Harutyun Selimyan: “We have never rejected a Syrian-Armenian family that wishes to move to Armenia”

Hayern Aysor’s correspondent sat down for an interview with Chairperson of the Council of Armenian Evangelical Churches in Syria, Rev. Harutyun Selimyan to discuss the events unfolding in Aleppo recently.

Hayern Aysor: Reverend, what is the current situation in Aleppo?

Harutyun Selimyan: Aleppo is currently in a little weaker situation due to lack of security and military attacks. There have been many bombardments in the Armenian-populated and Christian-populated areas over the past couple of days. Unfortunately, the attacks killed 8 and wounded over 20, some of which are in critical condition.

Unfortunately, the disagreement between Russia and the USA led to negative consequences. Although we can’t surely say what really happened, all the people of Aleppo suffered from all that. Christians, Muslims, Arabs and Armenians are in a crisis and are sounding the alarm to the whole world, particularly superpowers and humanitarian and international organizations, as well as the UN Committees that deal with human rights protection. The people of Aleppo have been seeing bloody events for the past couple of months, but they don’t address this and don’t issue any statement.

As far as the Armenian community is concerned, it has no hope, and this is obvious because many were killed or wounded, homes, buildings, stores and factories collapsed. All this also had a psychological impact on the people. Despite this, there are still families and young people who have the will to stay clung to the city and the community, and our mission is to support them and take care of the daily needs of our people.

Hayern Aysor: Reverend, one of the hot topics today is that many Syrian-Armenians want to leave Aleppo, but can’t. What is the situation really like?

H. S.: The reality is that over the past couple of years, there have always been people who have wanted to leave Aleppo. There have been and are organizations that have helped them leave either temporarily or permanently. The Armenian Evangelical Church has simply told them that it is ready to help those who wish to leave for the homeland, meaning we need to show support by helping them repatriate. We don’t accept Syrian-Armenians who leave Aleppo for European countries or the United States as refugees and live under imposed conditions. We help and assist those who wish to move to Armenia and those who wish to stay there. We also believe it is our mission and responsibility to help them.

We have never rejected a Syrian-Armenian family that wishes to move to Armenia. I recently met some Syrian-Armenian families that wanted to leave Aleppo. When I suggested that they move to Armenia, they said: “We want to move to Armenia temporarily, tour the country, see the conditions and then come back.” There are also people who think like this.

Every Syrian-Armenian seriously wants to leave here and settle in Armenia. There are people who have a great desire to go to Armenia, but not all of them want to settle in Armenia.

Hayern Aysor: Reverend, on October 7, a plane carrying humanitarian assistance from the Republic of Armenia arrived in Aleppo. You were also there when the assistance was transferred to the St. Mary Church of Aleppo. What can you say about this?

H. S.: We are all aware that President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan ordered to send 40 tons of humanitarian assistance (food, personal hygiene accessories, winter clothes, blankets, etc.) to Syria. On October 7, the three organizations of Aleppo combined efforts and received the assistance. The emergency and recovery unit of the Syrian-Armenians was assigned to distribute the assistance so that our people could receive the help from the Republic of Armenia. It is not only for the Armenians of Syria, but also the Syrians. There were 10 tons of assistance for the people in Damascus and the coastal areas, and another 30 tons for Aleppo.

Hayern Aysor: Is there anything you would like to add?

H. S.: During these difficult times, the Armenians of Aleppo are looking towards their brothers and sisters around the world so that they can extend a helping hand to them.

We will continue to do our best to extend a helping hand to our people. It is our duty to help them. Once again, I would like to say that those wishing to move to Armenia can contact us. There are families that want to stay in Aleppo upon their desire and for various reasons. Our mission is to help them as well.

We pray for the salvation of Aleppo. We pray with the desire that it remains the city with a major Armenian community and a historic city because the destruction going on in Aleppo will be considered the shame of all mankind in the future. The wealth of different nations and cultures is being destroyed. The whole world needs to get involved and help accomplish the sacred mission of saving Aleppo.

Lusine Abrahamyan

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