By Betul Yuruk
One of the world’s oldest Christian minorities, Syria’s Arameans, expressed concern about forced assimilation by the terrorist group PKK-affiliated PYD following the group's unilateral declaration of federalization in the north of the war-ridden country.
"There are thousands of Aramean Christians living in northern Syria, and the PYD is trying to intimidate and threaten them," Johny Messo, president of the World Council of Arameans, told Anadolu Agency in Geneva.
Vulnerable minorities are attacked or terrorized with impunity by the Kurdish YPG forces – the armed wing of the PYD.
Syrian Christians are believed to make up about 10% of the country's 22 million people.
However, thousands of them have already been forced to flee their homes or convert to Islam by Daesh, while some others have faced death.
Now Syrian Christians are facing another threat, this time from YPG militias.
"They (the YPG) call on the US and Russia to give them arms for their fight against Daesh but unfortunately these arms are sometimes used for their goal to expand their territories...This trend of Kurdifying the whole region is still continuing at the expense of the indigenous people," he said.
Messo, a Dutch-Aramean politician, said that the last attack by the YPG on an Aramean Christian self-defense unit in the northeastern town of Qamishli had killed one person.
He also slammed the PYD's declaration of federalization last week, calling its unilateral declarations of first Kurdish autonomy and now a federal region in north Syria "illegal" and "irresponsible".
"Undermining Syria’s national unity, territorial integrity and the peace efforts, they not only fly in the face of national and international law, but such secessionist claims also threaten the fragile security of the local populations," he said.
"This includes the safety of Syria’s indigenous Aramean Christians in northeast Syria, who reject such one-sided actions and continue to be victims of the PYD’s expansionist plans," he added.
The PYD, which controls most of northern Syria – along the border with Turkey – declared a "federal system" last Thursday.
A place at the table
Messo also expressed concern that Syria’s vulnerable ethno-religious minorities were not allowed to participate as an independent voice in the Geneva peace talks.
He called on all parties to "listen to their own people" for a peaceful solution to the more than 5 years of conflict in Syria.
More than 250,000 Syrian have lost their lives in the war, which began as anti-government protests as the Arab Spring swept across North Africa and the Middle East. At least 11 million have been forced from their homes, according to UN estimates.