Los Angeles. In the early part of the 20th century, the Ottoman government carried out a deliberate and systematic mass ethnic cleansing of its Christian inhabitants, namely the Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks. The proclamation of a fatwa for jihad against the Christians in Turkey quickly spread to northwestern Persia, in the densely Assyrian populated region of Urmia (Urmi).
From 1914 to 1918, two-thirds of the Assyrian population perished in a genocide that has remained cloaked under a shroud of secrecy. However, the anonymous Assyrian Genocide's staggering losses of 750,000 souls remains ever present in the remembrances of a nation that has vowed to never forget.
My maternal grandmother and paternal grandparents were survivors of the Assyrian Genocide. As I was growing up, the oral history describing the events of 1914 through 1918 by my grandparents were constant to me, just as they were to most Assyrian families. There seemed to be a need for a steadfast vigilance by these family elders who spoke of the mass murders of our nation in great detail.
Touched by a single event that unified the Assyrian nation, for survivors such as my grandparents, the constant retelling of these events was indicative of the personal conflict the elders were sorting through and a reflection of the frame of mind of much of the nation.
In time I began collecting corroborating letters, photos, family journals, family war diaries, newspaper articles and clippings and the quest for documenting and preserving this unwritten chapter of Assyrian history.
The extraordinary events my grandparents described formed images that (...)(...more)