Stockholm (AINA) — Tensions are rising in the Swedish municipality of Botkyrka, south of Stockholm, as Assyrian groups push for a memorial site for the victims of the Turkish genocide of Assyrians in World War One, known as Seyfo (sword) in Assyrian. Turkish groups oppose the initiative, saying they feel offended and stigmatized.
The Genocide claimed the lives of 750,000 Assyrians (75%), as well as 1.5 million Armenians and 500,000 Pontic Greeks.
In an article in the January 20 issue of Svenska Dagbladet, two Swedish journalists revealed a letter sent by a former senior official at the Turkish embassy in Stockholm instructing the Turkish associations in the municipality to object the memorial. “The embassy can’t become publicly involved but its your obligation to object it,” the letter said.
“This proves that Assyrians are still being oppressed by the Turkish state and are not left alone even in a remote country like Sweden,” said Afram Yakoub, chairman of the Assyrian Federation of Sweden. “This should make it clear to the council of the municipality that the true opponent of the memorial is a foreign state trying to impose its will and not some local Turkish associations.”
Assyrian organizations are preparing a demonstration in front of the municipality hall on Thursday to show their support and make their voices heard. “We are united and determined to speak up for our right to have the memorial,” said Fehmi Barkarmo from Seyfocenter, an organization working to increase awareness about the genocide of Assyrians.
A decision by the municipality council is expected within two weeks.