An excerpt from, “Armenian-Americans blame Turkey for Kassab invasion” by Pinar Tremblay, Al-Monitor, April 3, 2014:
The concerns of Armenian-Americans are strongly shared by a small but resilient minority of reporters and citizens, particularly those living in the border towns of Turkey. Although rarely reported in the mainstream media, Turkish people have protested the government’s actions in Syria multiple times. Public-opinion surveys have consistently shown that support by the Turkish public for any military involvement in Syria is low. Even among Justice and Development Party loyalists, only 32% are supportive of such action. It would be fair to assess many Turks as not knowing what really is happening in Kassab as the Twitter and YouTube bans continue.
The same cannot be said for many Armenian-Americans, as many of them have relatives in Kassab and the region. Indeed, the crisis hits close to home for thousands of Angelinos. One of my best students, George Doctorian, happens to be one of them. He told Al-Monitor, “My great-uncle was asleep when he was suddenly awoken at 5 a.m. by the sound of gunshots. His son rushed into the room and told him that their town was under attack. Their neighbor had a car and they quickly jumped in and drove to Latakia. They left everything behind — passports, money, pictures, etc. My great-uncle left without a shirt. Everything they own has been left behind. They have been trying to get new passports and documentation, but it is almost impossible due to the ongoing conflict. My great-uncle believes that if they had waited a little longer to get their paperwork, they surely would not have made it out in time.”
He added, “Our family back in Kassab fears the worst. Churches have been destroyed and there are reports that even the cemeteries have been desecrated. Many reports show that the Turkish government has funded these rebel groups, primarily Jabat al-Nusra, and this is evidenced by the fact that these rebels were able to enter Kassab through the Turkish border.”
I hope for Doctorian’s commentary to be taken seriously by all parties. He said, “The events that are occurring in Kassab are horrific and should not occur in the 21st century, when the international community stresses the importance of religious freedom and basic human rights. I would, however, caution Armenians to stop using the word ‘genocide’ when describing the events that are taking place in Kassab. The word ‘genocide’ entails many requirements [in regard to what] was perpetrated by the Young Turks in the first world war. Using the word ‘genocide’ [for] the events in Kassab is wrong and does a disservice to our ancestors who went through the genocide.”
It is understandable that the younger generations of Armenians fear further persecution of their relatives in Syria. It is also understandable that Armenian youths from different parts of the world yearn to go to Syria to fight in defense of their relatives. With this background analysis, news about Los Angeles gang members going to Syria to take up arms in pro-Assad militias is not surprising.
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