Etchmiadzin, Cilicia Denounce Destruction of Memorial Church by ISIS

A view of the interior of the now-destroyed Armenian Genocide memorial church in Deir ez-Zor

DEIR EZ-ZOR, Syria—The Holy Sees of Etchmiadzin and Cilicia condemned Sunday’s destruction of an Armenian memorial church in Deir ez Zor, Syria, which was built to commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide in a part of Syrian where countless Armenians were sent to die in death marches. The church was reportedly destroyed by the Islamic State (ISIS), on the day of Armenia’s independence anniversary.

“The destruction of the Church containing the remains of victims of the Armenian Genocide is a disrespectful step towards the Armenian people and the memory of its innocent victims,” a statement from the Mother See of Etchmiadzin said.

“It was an apparent attempt to strike the Armenian people’s just claims of reparation ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

“What happened in Deir ez-Zor is an inhumane barbarity, which cannot be justified by any religion or ideology based on religious and humanitarian values,” the Mother See said.

Etchmiadzin urged the international community to condemn the act of vandalism in order to prevent the reoccurrence of similar crimes in the future.

Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia also strongly condemned the Islamic State’s recent terrorist act.

The patriarch said that he was aware that the bombing of the Armenian church was part of a premeditated plot that led also to the destruction of an adjacent museum and complex.

“We view this atrocity, committed in the run-up to the Armenian Genocide centennial and on the 23rd anniversary of Armenia’s independence, as an act of barbarism. Many of those standing behind this plot know that Deir ez-Zor, which symbolizes our martyrs’ memory and our nation’s struggle for justice, will never be destroyed as a sacred place in our nation’s collective memory,” reads his post.

Aram I says he later addressed the violent incident at a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens.

He called upon top government officials and clergymen to strictly condemn the atrocity and attract international attention to the act.

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