ARMENIAN-MONTREALERS CALL ON CANADA TO INTERVENE IN KESSAB
CBC News, Canada
March 31 2014
Armenian-inhabited village of Kessab in Syria attacked by rebel forces
When news came that the historic Armenian-inhabited village of Kessab
in Syria had been attacked by rebel forces and its people were forced
to flee, a shudder went through the global Armenian community.
Kessab, normally a 2,000-person village on the border between Syria
and Turkey, was primarily settled by Armenians in the 14th and 15th
Just over a week ago, insurgents with reported ties to al-Qaeda
pushed into the area with Turkey’s blessing, forcing Armenians from
Online, the hashtag #SaveKessab is being used on social media platforms
to draw attention to the devastation the village and its people have
faced in the Syrian civil war.
In Montreal, Lalai Manjikian, an Armenian-Montrealer with family
in Kessab, said she fears for the town, which she described as a
“gorgeous, mountainous village” just a few kilometres from the
“Like many Armenians throughout the world, I feel personally a deep
historic and ancestral connection to Kessab,” Manjikian told CBC
Daybreak host Mike Finnerty on Monday.
“The situation is dire. Our family members have fled Kessab and
they’ve taken refuge mainly in Latakia (a major port city in Syria),”
Manjikian said. “They now find themselves in complete limbo.”
Hagop Der Katchadourian, the chairman of the Armenian National
Committee International Council, said forces opposed to Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad have moved in and taken control of Kessab.
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He said major damage has been done to homes, many of which are
centuries-old, in Kessab and that churches in the small village had
been “desecrated” by anti-Assad rebel forces.
“It is definitely taken at this stage because those forces are still
roaming the streets,” Der Katchadourian said.
He said, however, that it is important to distinguish between
legitimate rebel forces fighting the Assad regime, and extremist
groups ransacking the area.
Both Der Katchadourian and Manjikian called on the Canadian government
to continue protecting minority groups in Syria, as well as to provide
humanitarian assistance to displaced Armenians.
Der Katchadourian also said the Canadian government and Prime Minister
Stephen Harper should tell Turkey that allowing cross-border attacks
is not acceptable.
“Turkey is a major regional power and as such it has full control of
its frontiers,” he said.