On April 4, 2014, Armenian-Americans will gather in front of the Tip O’Neill Federal Building to protest the State Department’s failure to condemn the perpetrators of the invasion and occupation of the Armenian-populated town of Kessab and surrounding villages in northwestern Syria. Turkey facilitated the attack by Al-Qaeda affiliated extremists that included the desecration of churches, looting of homes, and expulsion of 2,000 civilians from their homes just over the Syrian border.
On March 21, rebels associated with Al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front, Sham al-Islam and Ansar al-Sham crossed the Turkish border and attacked the Armenian civilian population of Kessab. The attackers immediately seized two guard posts and later took over the border crossing point with Turkey. Snipers targeted the civilian population and launched mortar attacks on the town and the surrounding villages. According to eyewitness accounts, the attackers crossed the Turkish border with Syria openly passing through a Turkish military base. Turkish media reported that the attackers carried their injured back to Turkey for treatment in the town of Yayladagi.
Protesters will condemn the hypocrisy displayed by the State Department when it stated that it was “deeply troubled” about the human rights violations occurring but failed to even name the perpetrators. The State Department regularly condemns other governments and rebel groups in the region for human rights abuses, but has remained silent in this case when it is a NATO ally who is complicit in the deaths and destruction by Syrian rebels. The Armenian National Committee of America has called on the Senate and House Intelligence committees to launch an investigation into Turkey’s role in the attacks.
Protesters will call on the U.S. Government to speak clearly and unambiguously in calling on Turkey to cease its support for this invasion and pressure foreign extremists to end their occupation of Kessab. Thousands of Armenians worldwide have taken part in protests against this incursion in Paris, France, Sydney, Australia, and Los Angeles.