AINA News
New Book on Assyrian Genocide Published

(AINA) -- A new English book titled 'Year of the Sword - The Assyrian Genocide, A History' has been published by Prof. Joseph Yacoub, an emeritus Professor at the Catholic University of Lyon, France. The book is an English edition of the French book published last year and titled "Qui s'en souviendra ?: 1915 : le génocide assyro-chaldéo-syriaque."

The Armenian genocide of 1915 has been well documented. Much less known is the Turkish genocide of the Assyrian (also known as Chaldean and Syriac) people, which occurred simultaneously in their ancient homelands in and around ancient Mesopotamia -- now Turkey, Iran and Iraq. The advent of the First World War gave the Young Turks and the Ottoman government the opportunity to exterminate the Assyrians in a series of massacres and atrocities inflicted on a people whose culture dates back millennia and whose language, Aramaic, was spoken by Jesus. Systematic killings, looting, rape, kidnapping and deportations destroyed countless communities and created a vast refugee diaspora. Hundreds of thousand Assyro- Chaldean-Syriac people were murdered and a larger number forced into exile.

The 'Year of the Sword' (Seyfo - The Sword) in 1915, as Assyrians recall the events, was preceded over millennia by other attacks on the Assyrians and has been mirrored by recent events, not least the abuses committed by Islamic State.

Joseph Yacoub, whose family was murdered and dispersed, has gathered together a compelling range of eye-witness accounts and reports which cast light on this 'hidden genocide'. Passionate and yet authoritative, his book reveals a little-known human and cultural tragedy. A century after the Assyrian genocide and the treat of so-called Islamic State (IS), the fate of this Christian minority hangs in the balance in its ancestral homeland of Syria and Iraq.

Here are some selected reviews of the book:

"Yacoub's work is essential reading and sheds light on a dark chapter of twentieth century Middle Eastern history that has been deliberately silenced." -- Vicken Cheterian, Webster University, Geneva, author of Open Wounds: Armenians, Turks and a Century of Genocide.

"This book is intended for multiple audiences: the survivors of the communities themselves, as an account by a descendant of victims; academics, journalists and others dealing with the Middle East; and a wider public interested in Middle Eastern Christians. The diaspora communities include well over half a million people, so this alone is a very substantial audience. I think it is definitely an original contribution. To the best of my knowledge the literature on the massacres and persecution suffered by these communities is very limited, certainly compared with the Armenian dimension" -- William Harris, Professor, Department of Politics, University of Otago, author of Lebanon: A History, 600-2011.

"Yacoub's work is essential reading and sheds light on a dark chapter of twentieth century Middle Eastern history that has been deliberately silenced." -- Vicken Cheterian, Webster University, Geneva, author of Open Wounds: Armenians, Turks and a Century of Genocide.

"This important and revelatory book tells of the biblical race which has suffered genocide twice within a century: over half were destroyed by the Ottoman atrocities of 1915, and now their descendants in Mosul and elsewhere are being put to the sword by ISIS. The Assyrians today deserve more than our pity - they need our protection." -- Geoffrey Robertson QC, human rights barrister, Doughty Street Chambers, and author of An Inconvenient Genocide.

"Meticulous and moving, Year of the Sword documents the forgotten horrors that befell the Syriac-speaking Christians of the Ottoman Empire. This is a book for all times, but especially our own, when the Middle East's distinctive ethno-religious diversity is again under the threat from violence and forced migration. Readers will be sobered and better informed thanks to Yacoub's efforts." -- Christian Sahner, Research Fellow in History, St. John's College, University of Cambridge, and author of Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present.


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