By AYF Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter
BOSTON, Mass.—Members of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Greater Boston Nejdeh Chapter voiced their outrage in the wake of rapidly increasing attacks on northern Syria by Turkish forces this week during a protest in Boston.
On Tuesday, about a dozen young Armenians marched a few hundred meters from the Arlington MBTA station to the Turkish Consulate of Boston with other local activist groups including the New England Kurdish Association, the Kurdish Student Association at UMass Boston and Zoravik.
Last week, President Trump’s administration decided to pull out US troops from the Syrian border to allow Turkish forces to attack northern Syria and its Kurdish-dominated region of Rojava. “As a Kurd, and I speak for a lot of Kurds, when I say this decision made by the White House has devastated us all, I really mean it,” said UMass Boston student Soma Syan and founder of the Kurdish Student Association. “We are in shock.”
This decision has alarmed not only Kurds, but many other ethnic minorities across the globe. Particularly, this Turkish assault is all too familiar for Armenians, traumatized by the oppression their ancestors suffered during the Genocide of 1915. In a recent statement condemning Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria, the AYF-Eastern Region wrote, “Through these actions, Erdogan and the Turkish government once again prove to the world that they are the legitimate heirs to the Ottoman Empire’s legacy of hegemony, tyranny and oppression.”
In her remarks, AYF Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter member Ani Khachatourian stressed to the local Kurdish community that they are not alone. “This fight has never been about only our [Armenian’s] rights,” she said. “At the end of the day, we’re talking about basic human rights here—something you’d assume the American government, or any government for that matter, would be able to comprehend by now.”
What’s particularly disturbing is the cyclical nature of this humanitarian crisis. As the month of April approaches every year, statements like “shame on turkey,” “humanity over politics,” “stop US aid to Turkey” or “Turkey is guilty of genocide” reverberate in rallies around the world. Many of these same phrases were echoed during the protest on Tuesday night, as activists expressed their frustrations up to the office of Turkish Consul General Ceylan Özen Erişen. “There weren’t enough people speaking out when it happened to our great-grandparents,” said AYF Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter member Nairi Krafian. “We need to be that voice right now, so that it doesn’t happen to the Kurds.”