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Armenian Martyrs in Syria

In Syria’s Deir el-Zor province—a locale already infamous in Armenian history, and a byword for Armenian martyrdom—an Armenian Catholic priest and his father were murdered this week in an act of terror by the Islamic State (ISIS), which has claimed responsibility for the outrage.

Fr. Hovsep Bedoyan, the Armenian Catholic pastor in the Syrian city of Qamishli on the Turkish border, and his father Apraham Bedoyan were traveling to Deir el-Zor to inspect the reconstruction of an Armenian Catholic church that had been desecrated by ISIS in 2015. Their car was ambushed at a checkpoint by gunmen and shot at point-blank range before the killers fled on motorcycles. The elder Bedoyan died instantly, while his son succumbed to wounds in transit to a hospital.

A third passenger in the car, a deacon from the town of Al-Hasakeh, survived with minor injuries and reported the above details. Early press reports identifying both victims as priests were evidently mistaken.

On the same day as the murders, a series of bomb blasts rocked Qamishli, targeting the Armenian Catholic church, an Assyrian Christian-owned business, and a Catholic school. At least six people were killed; no Armenians appear to be among those casualties.

Words of Sympathy, Solidarity

His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Pope Francis, pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, have issued messages praying for the victims, their community, and the beleaguered Christians of Syria. Armenia’s government expressed condolences to Armenian Catholics and to all Syrian Armenians, and pledged to continue its humanitarian support to the region.

Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel Findikyan called the murders “a horrible tragedy,” and noted that alongside Armenian Catholics, the Syrian city of Qamishli has significant populations of Syrian Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, Assyrian, Assyrian Catholic, and Armenian Apostolic Christians. He sent letters of condolence to Patriarch Krikor Bedros XX at the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate in Lebanon, and to Archbishop Mikael Mouradian, Eparch of the Armenian Catholic Church in North America.

“With tremendous sorrow, we witness again the unspeakable tragedy of fallen humanity, which can never achieve true peace and justice apart from God. In Der Hovsep and his father Apraham, two innocent lambs whose only aspiration was to be agents of God’s holy work in this broken world, we are reminded of the loving, selfless sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the life of the world.”

The Primate has directed parishes throughout the Eastern Diocese to offer the requiem service on Sunday, November 17, 2019, for the souls of Apraham and Fr. Hovsep Bedoyan. In the meantime, please join our prayers to the Lord Jesus Christ, to protect his children and all innocent people of good will in the region.

Above: The late Fr. Hovsep Bedoyan (Photo by Chris Huby/Le Pictorium).

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