The Action Chrétienne en Orient (ACO) Fellowship released the following statement calling on its member churches to devote one Sunday in 2015 to the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
The Action Chrétienne en Orient was originally created to provide assistance to the victims of the genocide that struck the Armenian people at the beginning of the 20th century. Pastor Paul Berron, from Alsace, was a direct witness to the terrible sufferings, and he began his assistance in Aleppo in 1922. Since that moment, this work of solidarity between Eastern and Western Christians has continued and expanded.*
In 1995 in Kessab, Syria, those who continued and expanded Pastor Berron’s work gathered in a Fellowship, developing a community in which Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Swiss, Dutch, and French partners met on an equal basis.
Twenty years after the creation of this Fellowship, our community wishes to remember the Armenian Genocide and the Chaldean-Assyrian Massacre, which began on April 24, 1915, just one century ago. The Turkish government still denies the existence of this genocide.
We do not wish for vengeance or revenge and we welcome the work of Turkish citizens, be they journalists, philosophers, historians, who no longer want to obscure these dark pages of the history of their country.
When a group, a government, a society, wants to eliminate another human group only because of its religious, cultural, or ethnic identity, it is genocide. And this is the worst crime against humanity. For, when one part of humanity decides that another part is not allowed to exist in this world, all of humanity is attacked, and its anthropological unity is denied. Our Christian faith gives us the conviction that every human being is created by God; that Christ gave his life and rose for him/her and so s/he is called to live the fullness of life, to receive forgiveness and to be loved. It is not up to one human being to decide whether life is worth living or not.
The 20th century has known other genocides. And until now, religious minorities in the Middle East have to suffer because of awful violence against them. ACO-Fellowship finds that this Centenary should not be a mere commemoration of tragic events of the past but a call for vigilance against any speech that aims at excluding from the human community one of its components. Such speech must be fought and firmly rejected.
With people of goodwill, from all origins, in the name of the victims’ inalienable dignity, the ACO Fellowship wants to be a witness to what happened then, which broke so many human lives. It also wants to be a witness to Christ, who calls the whole of humanity to a reconciled life.
The ACO-Fellowship invites all its member churches, as well as other churches and local communities in the Middle East and in the western countries, to devote one Sunday to the Commemoration of this event in 2015, either around April 24 or on the traditional Day of the Golden Rule (the 2nd Advent), or at any other moment according to each community’s own wish and pace.
On behalf of the Executive Committee of the ACO Fellowship,
Rev. Thomas Wild, General Secretary
Evangelical Synod of Iran
Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East
Action Chrétienne en Orient, France
National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon
DM-échange et mission, Switzerland
*In 1995, ACO-France worked in the Middle East with the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL), the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East (UAECNE), and the Evangelical Synod of Iran; in Europe, with the Dutch churches through the missionary body called GZB, and with the French-speaking Swiss churches through their missionary department, called DM-échange et mission.