45 Days In Hell: Syrian Armenians Kidnapped And Tortured By FSA

45 DAYS IN HELL: SYRIAN ARMENIANS KIDNAPPED AND TORTURED BY FSA

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

A snapshot of the ‘Balanko.’ (Photo: SyrianTube.net / 2014)

BY SARKIS BALKHIAN
>From the Armenian Weekly

In October 2013, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report titled
“You Can Still See Their Blood” that documented the atrocities
committed by extremist groups, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and
al-Sham (ISIS) and Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, against civilians
in Latakia, Syria.[1]

In response to the report, the Supreme Military Council (SMC) of
the Free Syrian Army (FSA) “wholeheartedly condemned” the crimes and
reiterated its “full commitment to respecting the rule of law.” The SMC
“stressed that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra,
Ahrar al-Sham, Suqour al-Izz, and Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar are
not part of the SMC command structure and do not represent the values
of the FSA or the Syrian revolution.”[2]

Three months earlier, on July 26, 2013, the Free Syrian Army had
kidnapped seven Syrian Armenians (four men and three women) while they
were leaving Aleppo to resettle in Yerevan, Armenia. The women were
released within the first 10 hours, while the men were incarcerated
for 45 days.

This report documents the experience of those four men according to
the first-hand accounts of Carlo Hatsarkorzian and Sako Assadourian.

The conundrum: ‘good rebels’ vs ‘bad rebels’

Over the past two years, Western politicians with vested interests in
the outcome of the Syrian conflict and the ousting of the Assad regime
have asserted the notion of “good rebels” versus “bad rebels.” These
policymakers affirm that the good rebels consist of battalions fighting
under the command of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian
Army to bring justice, freedom, and democracy to the Syrian people,
whereas the bad rebels are jihadists seeking the creation of an
Islamic Caliphate across the MENA region.

The primary purpose of classifying the Syrian rebels into two
principal categories–the good and bad–is to legitimize and justify
any political, military, and financial support provided by the Western
governments and their regional allies to the “good rebels” of Syria.

On Sept. 2, 2013, while the four Armenians were being tortured by the
FSA, President Barack Obama had a private meeting with U.S. Senator
John McCain to discuss the potential for an intervention in Syria
and the possibilities of arming the “good rebels”–that is, the Free
Syrian Army.[3]

“He [Obama] said that he was willing to upgrade the capabilities of
the Free Syrian Army,” McCain stated in an interview with the Daily
Beast. “For the first time we have an outline of action that could
lead to the removal of Bashar al-Assad… I’m certainly willing to
join that effort, but I need to know a lot of the details.”[4]

The rhetoric used by these policy makers has influenced the mainstream
media’s coverage of the ongoing conflict. The vast majority of media
sources have been quick to overlook the crimes of the FSA and have
instead focused on the crimes perpetrated by the Syrian government
and the “bad rebels”–the jihadists.

Moreover, international human rights groups have failed to properly
document the plight of the minority groups in Syria. Whether or not
this failure stems from the fact that the vast majority of these
groups either support Assad’s regime or fear persecution in the
absence of his secular government is up for debate. But one thing is
certain–without the adequate documentation and condemnation of the
human rights violations against all Syrians, including minorities,
the cycle of crime will continue.

Prelude In late July 2012, the armed conflict arrived in Aleppo,
changing the destiny of Syrian Armenians forever. Prior to the
beginning of the conflict, Carlo Hatsarkorzian, 21, worked as a
mechanic at his family’s workshop in the Argoub district of Aleppo, and
Sako Assadourian, 27, as a goldsmith. They both came from lower-middle
class families.

In September 2012, rebels took over the neighborhood forcing the
Hatsarkorzians to close their workshop. Carlo moved to Armenia,
where he started working as a construction worker for 3,000 AMDs
($7.50) per day.[5]

In December, Carlo booked a round-trip flight to Aleppo to visit his
family for the New Year. He never made the return flight because the
Aleppo International Airport was shut down in early January. He’d
remain in Aleppo until that life-defining journey in July 2013.[6]

In June 2013, Sako, a former Syrian Arab Army soldier, received
a notice demanding his return to the army. His mother, Siranoush,
begged Sako to leave the country and to join his brother in Yerevan.[7]

By late July, Carlo, Sako, Garo Boboghlian, and Nareg Varjabedian,
along with three Armenian women, decided to leave Aleppo for Yerevan.

What followed would haunt them for years to come.

A journey to hell

Abduction In the morning of July 26, the seven Armenians got on a
bus headed towards the Bab al-Hawa border point with Turkey. By 11
a.m., the bus had stopped at an FSA checkpoint near what is known
as the Maabar al-Mawt (the Corridor of Death) in the Bustan al-Qasr
neighborhood of Aleppo.

“At the checkpoint, the FSA soldiers requested our documentation,” Sako
told the Armenian Weekly. “When they realized that we were Armenians,
they transferred us to their headquarters.” Later that evening, at
around 6:30 p.m., the women were released and sent off to Turkey,
while the FSA comrades gave a warm “welcome” to the four Armenian men.

“They forced us to kneel down and say the Lord’s Prayer [Derounagan
aghotk in Armenian], while a dozen of their soldiers beat us up until
we all started bleeding,” said Carlo. “They hit us with their hands,
feet, and anything they could find.”

The abuse was both physical and psychological. While being tortured
physically, the four men were subject to verbal abuse, threats, and
dehumanization. “You [the Armenians] are all traitors! You are the
kafirs [infidels] who support Assad! We will kill you tomorrow!”

The headquarters In the town of Hraytan, the Free Syrian Army
headquarter consisted of a deserted liquor warehouse and a villa
positioned across the street.

Over the course of those 45 days, the four men were placed in 3
different cells.[8]

At the compound, the majority of the FSA soldiers did not use their
official names when communicating with each other; instead they
addressed one another using “Abu Ahmad” or “Abu Mohammad,” meaning
“the father of Ahmad” or “the father of Mohammad” in Arabic.[9]

The chain of command at this particular base was divided into two
branches: religious and military. The head of the religious branch was
the Sheikh, the holy leader who was vested by Sharia law and whose
verdicts were conclusive. The military command was in the hands of
“Abu Ali,” a defector from the Military Intelligence Directorate of
Syria, the “Mukhabarat.”[10]

Ironically, prior to the FSA takeover of the Hraytan region, the
buildings where the four Armenians were held captive belonged to a
Syrian-Armenian family that imported the Efes brand of Turkish beer.

Following the takeover, the Free Syrian Army upgraded the Chaprazian
family properties, investing heavily in transforming the warehouse and
villa into a high-security concentration camp from which no prisoner
could escape.

Unfortunately for the FSA, not too long after the release of the
four Armenians, the “bad rebels” of Syria–the Islamic State of Iraq
and al-Sham (ISIS)–took over the Hraytan region and, along with it,
the FSA headquarters.[11]

The snapshots included in this piece are cropped from a video prepared
by the ISIS militants and published by the pro-regime news agency
Syriantube.net. The video demonstrates the various torture methods
used by the FSA and the locations of the warehouse and villa. Both
Armenian interviewees, Sako and Carlo, confirmed that the video
recording is from the site of their captivity, and the torture
techniques demonstrated therein correspond to what they experienced.

The first 23 days After they were beaten on the first day, the four
men were taken to prison cell no. 1 in the warehouse, where they were
kept for six days.

They were subjected to numerous verbal abuses but no physical
torture.[12]

A snapshot of prison cell no. 1 at the FSA headquarters. (Photo:
SyrianTube.net / 2014)

In prison cell no. 1, they were accompanied by FSA soldiers convicted
by their own military tribunal, for crimes such as theft and “illegal
murder.” On average, the FSA soldiers were kept imprisoned for 30
days, and then released, to continue their battles against the Assad
regime. On July 27, one day after the abduction of the four Armenians,
an Arab Christian was also brought in to prison cell no. 1.[13]

During those initial six days, Abu Ali and his comrades systematically
harassed the men and blackmailed them. “Who the hell are you? Everyone
is talking about you. Everyone is pressuring us to release you,”
he said. “Unless the Syrian-Armenian community is able to convince
the Syrian Army to remove its military check-points near the Meedan
neighborhood in Aleppo, we will kill you.”[14]

“They did not understand that the Syrian-Armenian community has no
leverage over the Syrian Army,” explained Sako. “They didn’t accept
the fact that our lives were worth nothing in the grand scheme of
this conflict.”

Following the first six days, the four men were transferred to solitary
confinement–to prison cell no. 2–where they were left without water
and food for around two days.[15]

The entrance to prison cell no. 2 (Photo: SyrianTube.net / 2014)

On the third day, Abu Ali opened the gate, stepped into the underground
cell, and shouted, “Are you still alive?” The men were dehydrated. They
didn’t have the energy to respond.[16]

Abu Ali asked, “Do you want water?” They pleadingly said, “Yes.” One
of the soldiers accompanying Abu Ali went away for a few seconds
and returned with a bottle of water. After the four men finished
drinking, Abu Ali sardonically said, “That was the water from the
swimming pool!”[17]

“The swimming pool is where the FSA soldiers used to swim and urinate,”
Carlo said. “We had no choice but to drink. It was urine or death.”

Cell no. 2 was located in the basement of the villa. It was a dark
locker room consisting of two small rooms and a narrow hallway. Each
room could fit one person at a time. The four Armenians established a
rotation system, where two of them would sleep on the concrete floor
of the rooms, while the other two would sit in the narrow hallway.

This was their life for 17 dark days.[18]

On the 24th day of their journey, the four Armenians were transferred
back to the warehouse, to prison cell no. 3, also known as “the party
room.” The men thought that the worst was behind them.[19]

Interrogation (a conversation with the Sheikh) That morning, the Sheikh
summoned the four men to an interrogation session. “You Armenians
are civilians,” he told them. “We are in a war against the Alawites,
against Assad’s Army. Why did the Armenians pick up arms against us,
against the Sunnis? Why are you supporting Assad?”[20]

Entrance to prison cell no. 3 (Photo: SyrianTube.net / 2014)

As Sako recalls the conversation with the Sheikh, he subconsciously
switches to Arabic. “No. We are not supporting Assad. The Armenians
who picked up arms are stationed in their own neighborhoods to defend
the Armenian population.”

The Sheikh disagreed. “No, the Armenians are against us. The FSA
constantly tried to penetrate the Meedan neighborhood, but the
Armenians were stationed at the army’s checkpoint and fought against
us. The Armenians are like the Alawites.”

Sako reluctantly disagreed, “Honorable Sheikh. We are not like the
Alawites. After the Genocide, when the Armenians arrived to Syria,
it was the Sunnis who took us in. We lived together in peace and
harmony long before the Baath Party came to power.”

After a moment of silence, the Sheikh asked, “Are you a supporter of
Assad or are you against his regime?”

Sako responded, “I am against the regime.”

“You are a liar.”

Sako continued, “I am not lying my Sheikh. I am against the regime.

Every Syrian citizen is against the regime, against the corruption of
the government. But there is a difference between civil disobedience
and a violent destructive war. Every Syrian wanted reform, but we
don’t want the country to be destroyed in the process.”

The Sheikh angrily replied, “No. You are a liar. All of you are against
us. The Kurds, the Druze, the Christians, the Armenians, the Shiite,
and the Alawites are all against the Sunnis. We are going to teach
you all a lesson.”

Sako responded, “Dear Sheikh, the Armenians are different. The Druze
and the Shiites had weapons long before this conflict. The Armenians
are civilians. They never had weapons, they only picked up arms to
defend their own neighborhoods.”

The Sheikh disagreed. “If you didn’t want to get involved in this
conflict, you should have gone to your country, Armenia. But you
didn’t. Your archbishop is with the government. Every Armenian is with
the government. Where did the Armenians get their weapons form? Didn’t
you get them from Assad’s army? Aren’t you using it against the FSA?”

Sako replied, hopelessly, “I don’t know. I did not pick up arms. I
don’t know.”

The Sheikh opened his laptop and retrieved some files. He showed
pictures of “Armenians carrying weapons in Aleppo.” The Sheikh asked,
“Who is this guy?” The four men replied, “We don’t know.”

As he flipped through the pictures, the Sheikh furiously asked,
“Isn’t this George? Isn’t this Daron? You all know each other. You
are lying to me. Tonight you will enjoy the party.” The livid Sheikh
sent the men back to their prison cell.

The FSA had extensive records on the Syrian Armenians who they alleged
had carried arms. They had personal information including names,
addresses, and pictures.[21]

Torture That evening, a few FSA soldiers, who appeared to be under
the influence of narcotics, entered the room and asked the men to
stand up and follow them. One of the Armenians said, “Are you going
to release us?”

“No. We are taking you to the party.”[22]

When the four Armenians walked out of the prison cell, the FSA soldiers
began to attack them: striking, punching, slapping, pushing, pulling,
kneeing, and kicking. Winded and humbled, the men were hauled across
the hall and placed near the Balanko. “You will like this game,”
said one of the soldiers.[23]

The Balanko was a steel chain that hung from the ceiling with a
hook at the end. It is customarily used to offload or unload heavy
shipments. In this instance, the shipments were the four Armenians.

A snapshot of the ‘Balanko.’ (Photo: SyrianTube.net / 2014)

“They lowered the Balanko to the ground. One of the soldiers brought
a rope, tied my bare feet together, and my hands behind my back,”
Sako recalled. “After connecting the hook to the rope, they gradually
lifted me up until I was one meter above the ground. I was hanging
upside-down. They started slapping me. I swung like a pendulum.”

“After a few minutes, one of the soldiers grabbed an iron rod and
started pounding my lower body,” said Sako. “Then another soldier
grabbed an electrical wire and started hitting the bottom of my bare
feet. The pain was excruciating.”

The four Armenians took turns riding the Balanko. While they were
being tortured, the soldiers continued to hurl verbal abuses and swear
words. “The blasphemies ranged from Bashar al-Assad to the Armenians
and even the Virgin Mary,” said Carlo.

Following the Balanko, the four men had no energy to stand. They
crawled back to their prison cell, while the FSA soldiers continued
to kick them.

The next day, the process was repeated. But this time, while the men
were hanging from the Balanko, the FSA soldiers called the families
of the prisoners on the phone. “They placed a gun to my head and told
me to repeat their words in Arabic,” said Carlo. “They told me that
if I used a single Armenian word, they would shoot me.”

While Sako was hanging from the Balanko, Carlo was on the phone with
Sako’s relatives. “I told Sako’s aunt exactly what the FSA soldiers
were telling me. Initially, they asked for a ransom,” said Carlo.

“They wanted our families to hear our pleas while we were being
tortured.”

Sako ended up speaking with Carlo’s parents and asking them for a
ransom of 10,000,000 SYP (around $60,000 at the time). Garo and Nareg
spoke to their respective families. Each family was told to pay that
sum in exchange for their son’s release.[24]

Torture at the FSA headquarters (Photo: SyrianTube.net / 2014)

The next day, the Balanko ride became more violent, as the soldiers
began hitting the prisoners’ upper body. “After the ride was
completed, they brought an electric wire, connected it to our feet,
and electrocuted us,” said Sako.

While Sako was being electrocuted, one of the FSA soldiers realized
that Sako’s toenail was coming off from the extensive beating he had
received. “Let me put you out of your misery; I will remove that nail
for you,” the soldier told Sako.[25]

“He brought pliers and ordered the other soldiers to pin me down,”
said Sako. “He denailed my left toe. I actually did not feel a thing.

My body was too numb from all the beating and electric shocks.”

At the end of that day, Abu Ali informed the four men that they
should expect the torture “party” to continue until their families
paid the ransom.

Exhausted from the beatings, electric shocks, and the denailing, Sako
pleaded, “My parents are poor. They can’t pay you the ransom. If you
are not going to let me go, why don’t you just kill me?”

Abu Ali replied, “If your parents don’t pay the ransom, then you are
going to enjoy the Balanko party for a long time. Your life belongs
to us now. You are going to wish you were dead. You are going to
beg us to kill you, but we won’t. You’re going to live through this
hell forever.”

In the early hours of the next morning, a Kurdish rebel group,
likely affiliated with the Popular Protection Units (YPG), launched an
offensive on the FSA checkpoints near the compound. By the afternoon,
the FSA soldiers had captured a few Kurdish rebels and transferred
them to their headquarters. To make room for the new prisoners,
the four Armenian men were transferred back to prison cell no. 1.[26]

“Thanks to the Kurdish offensive we were spared the Balanko ride and
the electric shocks. After that point, we were mere observers. We
watched the Kurdish rebels get tortured by the hands of the FSA,”
said Carlo.

Prison labor The Kurdish offensive came on the 27th day of the
Armenians’ captivity. After that, the four men were no longer tortured
physically, although the verbal abuse continued up until their release.

The FSA implemented its prison labor policy by forcing the four
Armenians to assist with their everyday work. “We were forced to
clean the bathrooms of the soldiers, the FSA offices, and the bedrooms
located in the villa,” recalled Carlo. “We also worked as carriers,
transferring the shipments that arrived at the headquarters.”

The FSA headquarters received empty gas tanks on a regular basis. The
Armenians off loaded the tanks and transferred them to the production
room. There, the gas tanks were transformed into ammunition for the
FSA’s mortar bombs.[27]

Over the past three years, the Syrian opposition has used mortar
bombs on a consistant basis. In recent weeks, more than 80 mortar
bombs were launched against the predominantly Armenian neighborhoods
of Meedan and Sulaymaniyah in Aleppo. These assaults have resulted
in the death of numerous Armenians and the destruction of Armenian
churches, schools, and homes.

This was not lost on the FSA soldiers, who continuously reminded the
four men that they were aiding in the murder of fellow Armenians.

“Today we are going to attack the Meedan, Sulaymaniyah, and Azizieh
neighborhoods. Thank you for your assistance guys,” said Abu Ali
sarcastically.[28]

“We knew very well where the mortar bombs were heading,” said Sako.

“We were helping the FSA in its assault against the Armenian
neighborhoods. But we had no choice. It was either compliance, Balanko,
or death.”

The Quran In the last 18 days of their captivity, the four men were
forced to learn the Quran. When they were transferred to prison cell
no. 1, the Sheikh had told them, “Every day you are going to learn
verses from the Quran and every night you will be tested. If you make
a mistake you will be sent to the Balanko.”

“They forced us to pray with their soldiers,” said Carlo. “We asked
some of the Kurdish prisoners who were accompanying us in the prison
cell to teach us the Quran and the proper ways of prayer.”

“Every night, the FSA soldiers used to examine us,” said Sako. “We
were good students. We learned the verses very well. We could not
afford to make a mistake. Fearing the Balanko, we learned and prayed
with the soldiers like proper Muslims.”

The Facebook message from within On Sept. 1, 2013, the 37th day
of captivity, an FSA officer entered the prison cell and asked,
“Is there anyone who understands computers?”

Carlo volunteered. “I volunteered because I wanted to go out of the
warehouse. The officer took me to the FSA office located in the villa.

He wanted me to download some programs. Based on his demands, I
realized that he didn’t understand a thing from computers.”

A snapshot of Carlo’s Facebook post on his own timeline.

Carlo told the officer that he needed some time to surf the web in
order to locate a free-of-charge downloading option. As he was surfing
the web, the officer received a phone call, stood up, and walked out
of the office. Carlo logged onto his Facebook account, and posted a
pleading message on his wall. The message stated, in Armenian, “please
get us out of here as soon as possible… let the Prelacy give money
so we can get out of here sooner rather than later … plzzzzzzzzzzzz”
(hagetsek mezi hosge hanel vargian m arach.. arashnortarane togh tram
da vor shoudov yellenk hosge … plzzzzzzzzzzzz).

‘Freedom’ in Syria: On Sept. 9, 2013 Narek Varjabedian was released
by the FSA, after his family had managed to pay the ransom. The amount
was less than the initial sum demanded by the FSA.

As mentioned earlier, Carlo and Sako came from lower middle-class
families. Due to their family’s financial limitations, their release
was postponed. Carlo’s mother sold her jewelry to conjure up a small
amount of money for her son.

When Carlo’s father realized that Sako’s family was unable to pay for
their son’s release, he asked community members to donate. They did.

On Sept. 10, 2013 a day after Narek was released, Carlo Hatsarkorzian,
Sako Assadourian, and Garo Boboghlian were released and sent back
to Aleppo.

When Sako finally arrived at his aunt’s house, he was greeted with a
subdued welcome. “After a few minutes I realized that my father and
mother were not around,” said Sako. “Everyone was wearing black. I
asked my aunt, ‘Where is my father? Where is my mother?'”

My aunt told me to sit down. My relatives handed me a glass of water
and told me, “Fifteen days after your kidnapping, your father had a
heart attack. He passed away. I’m sorry.”

“When I heard that my father had passed away, I lost control of
myself,” Sako told the Weekly, with tears in his eyes. “I started
banging my head to the wall. I kept repeating, I wish I had died in
that prison. I wish I had not come out to hear this news.”

On the day of his release, Sako’s mother, who suffered from mental
health issues, had flown from Beirut to Yerevan. She had lost all
hope of seeing Sako again, and had gone to Yerevan to be reunited
with her younger son, Anto.[29]

In the meantime, Carlo was struggling to cope with his newfound
“freedom.” With Aleppo under heavy bombardment, he suffered from
post-traumatic stress disorder, and kept dreaming that he was still
a prisoner at the FSA headquarters. “I used to wake up in the middle
of the night and start crying,” said Carlo. “My parents told me that
I had to leave Aleppo and return to Armenia. I did.”

Not long after, Sako was offered an escape route as well. To cover
his transportation costs, Sako borrowed $200 from a friend and left.

“Initially I was hesitant to leave Aleppo. I kept thinking to myself,
‘What if I am captured again?'” recalled Sako. “But eventually,
I took a few tranquilizers and set off to Armenia.”

Life in Armenia For more than two months following his arrival in
Yerevan, Sako was unable to seek employment; his mother’s psychological
condition had deteriorated, and she was admitted to the Avan Mental
Hospital.

After her condition gradually stabilized and she returned home,
Sako started working as a construction worker. Not long after, Sako’s
younger brother decided to leave his family, saying he could no longer
withstand the depressing environment of their household.

“It’s been more than five months since my brother left us,” Sako said.

“Until today we do not know about his whereabouts. Initially I believed
him: I thought that we were depressing him. But a few weeks after his
departure, I found out that my brother had accumulated $750 worth of
phone bill debts. That was his parting gift for me.”

Siranoush (Photo: Sako Assadourian)

Now, Sako is living in a one-bedroom apartment with his mother and
cousin. He makes approximately $250 (100,000 AMD) per month and pays
$125 (50,000 AMD) in rent. Between the debt left behind by his brother,
the monthly utility fees, and the accumulated rent, Sako felt lost. His
landlord, who had been considerate enough to grant the family a grace
period on the rental payments, ultimately grew tired of waiting and
requested his money.

In recent months, the Aleppo Compatriotic Charitable Organization
(ACCO), which assists refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)
in both Armenia and Syria, has provided rental subsidies to Sako’s
family. The ACCO also referred Sako’s case to the Caritas Foundation
in Armenia, which in turn has paid off some of the accumulated debt.

But Sako and his family continue to struggle in Armenia.

Carlo has moved back into his old apartment in the outskirts of
Yerevan. He shares the apartment with a friend from Syria. He’s
currently working as a carpenter, making $225 per month. His portion
of the housing rent is $50 per month. Carlo saves as much money as
possible and sends it to his struggling family in Aleppo.

Conclusion In its latest report, the Independent International
Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic portrayed the Free
Syrian Army–or the “good rebels”–as “Syrian moderate nationalists
organized in a conglomeration of armed groups affiliated to the
internationally backed Supreme Military Council, fighting the
Government and calling for the formation of a democratic and
pluralistic State. It also includes moderate Islamic groups and
armed groups with local agendas limited to their communities’
aspirations.”[30]

The abduction, torture, dehumanization, and the lack of due process
experienced by Carlo Hatsarkorzian, Sako Assadourian, Garo Boboghlian,
and Narek Varjabedian reflects a reality that contradicts the
international commission’s depiction of the FSA.

In fact, the experiences of these four Armenians reveal one of two
things about the Supreme Military Council: that either the SMC has
no control over the FSA battalions under its chain of command, or
that the SMC of the Free Syrian Army has no intention of creating a
democratic and pluralistic state in the Syrian Arab Republic, where
the rights of minority groups such as, the Armenians are preserved.

The independent commission’s March 18, 2014 report was based on
investigations conducted between July 15, 2013 and Jan. 20, 2014–the
same period of time that saw the kidnapping and torture of these four
Armenians. Within that same interval, Wanis (father) and Minas (son)
Levonian were abducted by ISIS and brutally executed on Jan. 8 or 9,
2014.[31] After their execution, the Aleppo Sharia Committee refused
to hand over their bodies for a proper Armenian burial.

Moreover, during this specific interlude, numerous other Armenians
were kidnapped and subjected to human rights violations. And yet,
the independent commission’s report fails to make a single reference
to human rights violations committed against the Armenian population
of Syria.

More than three years into the Syrian conflict, local and international
human rights organizations have failed to properly document the
constant violations and crimes committed against the Armenians. This
consistent negligence of the plight of the Armenians compels us to
believe that in the eyes of the international community, the Armenians
are an insignificant segment of Syrian society.

How you can help Carlo and Sako are de facto political refugees who
have endured an insurmountable amount of terror at the hands of the
Free Syrian Army.

Considering their recent experience in Syria, both men are unable and
unwilling to return to Aleppo. Their desire is to find a permanent
home in Armenia.

Recognizing the unique and urgent circumstance of these two men, the
Aleppo Compatriotic Charitable Organization NGO recently launched
an online fundraising campaign to raise funds for the purchase
of apartments for Carlo, Sako, and their respective families. The
California based non-profit, the Ani & Narod Memorial Fund, Program
on Justice & Equity for Syrian-Armenian Refugees, will match up to
$5,000 in donations, towards the purchase of these apartments.

You can donate to ACCO by visiting their website or by sending a
check to the organization’s offices in New Jersey: Aleppo Compatriotic
Charitable Organization, 2 Marvin Rd., Middletown, NJ 07748.

Please specify the purpose of your donation by writing “Carlo & Sako
Apartments” in the memo line. For further information about this case,
contact the author via email.

Notes

[1] hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/syria1013_ForUpload.pdf

[2]hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/The_Supreme_Military_Council_of_the_Free_Syrian_Army_response_to_You-can-still-see-their-blood_0.pdf

[3]
thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/02/obama-to-arm-syrian-rebels.html

[4] Ibid.

[5] The Armenian Weekly interview by Skype with Carlo Hatsarkorzian,
April 23, 2014

[6] Ibid.

[7] The Armenian Weekly interview with Sako Assadourian, Yerevan,
Armenia, April 11, 2014

[8] Ibid.

[9] The Armenian Weekly interviews with Sako Assadourian & Carlo
Hatsarkorzian on different days

[10] During the interview with the Armenian Weekly, both Carlo and
Sako, provided the real identity of the FSA military commander,
“Abu Ali,” but in order to protect themselves and their families,
they requested not to publish those details.

[11] emmejihad.wordpress.com/tag/hraytan/

[12] The Armenian Weekly interview by Skype with Carlo Hatsarkorzian,
April 23, 2014

[13] Ibid.

[14] The Armenian Weekly interview with Sako Assadourian, Yerevan,
Armenia, April 11, 2014

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] The Armenian Weekly interview by Skype with Carlo Hatsarkorzian,
April 23, 2014

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] The Armenian Weekly interview with Sako Assadourian, Yerevan,
Armenia, April 11, 2014

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] The Armenian Weekly interview by Skype with Carlo Hatsarkorzian,
April 23, 2014

[29] The Armenian Weekly interview with Sako Assadourian, Yerevan,
Armenia, April 11, 2014

[30] The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian
Arab Republic, March 18, 2014 Report

[31] english.al-akhbar.com/content/story-two-armenians-arrested-isis

http://asbarez.com/124218/45-days-in-hell-syrian-armenians-kidnapped-and-tortured-by-fsa/

You may also like