Yerevan: His Holiness Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II participated in the Opening Ceremony of “Against the Crime of Genocide” Global Forum. His Holiness Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, the President of Armenia Mr. Serzh Sarkissian, Mr. Thornborn Jagland, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, and Prof. Daniel Feierstein, President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars spoke in the High Level Segment of the Opening Ceremony. The Opening Ceremony was also attended by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Coptic Patriarch and Pope of Alexandria, His Beatitude Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Raii and many representatives of Churches particularly from Russia, England, Jerusalem, Egypt, Zimbabwe, and Cyprus.
In the first panel consecrated for the religious leaders and dealing with the subject of the Genocide, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II opened the session with a prayers for the Coptic and Ethiopian martyrs of the massacres in Libya. His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II then spoke about the effects of a genocide and how the holy shrines, churches, monasteries, and cultural centers are destroyed in an attempt to eliminate any trace of the persecuted people or their culture.
He called the international community and people of good will to recognize the genocide, comparing it to the confession of sins, with its stages of confession, repentance and redemption. He emphasized that the condemnation of such crimes is essential for prevention of the like in the future. He also expressed his worries of the rise of new similar crimes especially in the Middle East, referring to the recent Coptic and Ethiopian massacres in Libya. In his talk, Pope Tawadros II spoke about remembering the martyrs and explained the meaning of martyrdom in the Church.
His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II asked the audience to pause in silence and prayer for the return of their Eminences Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, especially since today marks exactly 2 years since their abduction. He then spoke about the link between what happened 100 years ago during the Armenian Genocide and the Syriac Genocide Sayfo to the abduction of the archbishops, as the same will to exterminate a people whose only sin is being ‘courageous Christians’. His Holiness also condemned the killings of Copts and Ethiopians in Libya and the killing and abduction of Syriac-speaking Christians in Khabour, Syria. He concluded with the hope that the risen Lord gives us and an affirmation to stay in our homeland despite all persecutions.
His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai spoke about the difference between a legal and theologica debate about the Genocide. He called all to remember to restart anew, recognize that this is a genocide in order to avoid the like and confess the sin of killing in order to reach total repentance.
Letters were read from representatives of Patriarch of Russia Kyrill, Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilus III and Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II as well as short speeches by the Anglican Church Representative and the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Zimbabwe Seraphim.