By Marianne Brückl
A historical day in St. Mary Church in Gütersloh. A day that will never more be forgotten: August 30, 2009. A day of forgiveness, when finally also the Germans spoke out an apology for the devastating crimes, emerged as genocide of 1914/15 against the Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks – as it was already done by Philip Kiril Prince of Prussia 10 years ago for the Armenian people in a letter to the Armenian Embassy.
Around 250 Assyrians have assembled in the church hall of St. Mary Church in Gütersloh. Cameras and Spotlights built up, a curious crowd of people in view of the guests of this day. Sabri Atman from Seyfo-Center in Sweden, the Kurdish activist for human rights and writer Berzan Boti, and Ingrid Seigis, director of Human Rights Organization Christian Solidarity International (CSI) Germany.
How many people have lost their lives and how much the Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks were harmed, this also till this very day, Sabri Atman depicts in touching words in his lecture. The traces Genocide has left, it is nearly not to describe. More than 2.5 Millions of Christians fell victims to the cruel crimes, today there are just about 4 Millions of Assyrians left, living scattered worldwide. And when we talk about the massacres to them, there are only named the Armenians but not the Assyrian people, neither in history books nor else where. Instead this topic now shall be even excluded in schools, quite in the sense of the murderers from then. As well as also now the Turks protest against restoration of Lepsius-House in Postdam, a memorial for Genocide to the Armenian and Assyrian people. Sabri Atman's voice is filled with passion while speaking and he underlines his speech with gestures that express his feelings about the topic Genocide. He also confirms that the Assyrian people will no longer accept all these cruelties and humiliations but will stand up. However, that there are also living people with conscience in Turkey, he points out too.
Because Berzan Boti, a Kurdish man with principles, who open stays abreast of his feelings of guilt to the Christians, has started with expiation. On May 13, 2009 he already conveyed in the Swedish Reichstag all his property to Seyfo-Center, representative to the president Sabri Atman. Boti, a scraggy grey haired man, calm and discrete, with good-natured eyes, who steps to the speaker's desk. With a low voice he tells his story, describes his history as an intellectual human rights activist and the 11 years he spent in a Turkish prison because of his conviction. The keeping of his body reveals that he relives these moments once more. The minutes that gave him the certitude to expiate the guilt of his ancestors only by restoring the blood-soaked stolen goods, the inherited property to these, who were stolen from in cruellest manner – to these, who are still rest over from this former great Assyrian people. With bright eyes he talks about his family who has supported him in his intent, about the reactions of his environment, about people, who even threatened him with death. But all these troubles do not bother him. He is standing to his decision, doesn't let appear any doubts.
Then the director of CSI Germany gem. GmbH comes to the speakers desk. With a powerful voice she speaks about blame and expiation in the sense of God, apologizing in the German peoples name, that had become to a people of perpetrators, not having prevented Millions of innocent Christians to be massacred. In her impressive speech she asks for forgiveness for Germany in favour of the great-great-grandson of the Emperor William II, Philip Kiril Prince of Prussia, who himself is father of six children and theologian. She is citing the email she had received from the prince dated 26.08.2009, who had sent a letter of excuse to the Armenian Embassy ten years ago, which has not been not responded. "I am glad about your initiative. This also has agitated me already years ago and I have embarked on just this way, it is about ten years!" he writes. "I do not know any more who gave me the impulse to this step, but I sent a letter for forgiveness to the Armenian Embassy and to the Patriarch. – Unfortunately I did not receive a response." There is ruling a prayerful silence in the hall in view of this speech, expressing everything what many thought for a long time – forgiveness needs an excuse, being open spoken out. Ms. Seigis is asking Sabri Atman and the locum of the church-community, Rev. Abraham Gök, ahead. As a sign of reconciliation she hands out wooden cruces, handmade by Sudanese Christians. A historical moment in the sense of an effective international understanding, a ray of hope, that such a genocide will never happen again.
A camera team and a German journalist, both provided by CSI followed these touching moments that will be publicly forthcoming in a film.