Special Report by Mor Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh
(Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama)
Photographs from Mor Timotheos Matta Alkhouri
(Metropolitan & Patriarchal Secretary)
My brothers and sisters
The peace of the Lord be with you:
I present to you a glimpse of the events which have overtaken Sadad over the weeks since its occupation by armed men and terrorists.
1- Sadad is a small Syriac town of 15,000 people located 160 km from Damascus
2- It has 14 churches and a monastery with four priests and five halls for social activities and celebrations.
3- Most citizens are poor, because of the lack of natural resources
4- They live in the middle of the desert, and it is a harsh, dry climate, where no rain falls..
5- The number of families which immigrated to Sadad from the different villages and provinces, owning to the Syrian crisis, is 600.
6- The terrorists entered Sadad on 21-10-2013 and occupied it for a week. On 28-10-2013 they were driven out and some of them were killed.
7- 2,500 families fled Sadad because of this occupation by the terrorists. They spread out between Damascus, Homs, Fayrouza, Zaydal, Maskane, and al-Fhayle.
8- 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields for a week, amongst them children, old men, young men, and women. Some of them fled, walking 8 km from Sadad to al-Hafer to find refuge.
9- Some were killed and some were threatened by the bullet, by strangulation, execution and with the destruction of their houses. 45 civilians were martyred including women, children and men.
10 – 10 persons have gone missing, and the number of injured is 30
11-All the homes of Sadad have been robbed, their possessions looted, by all the forces which entered Sadad. The commercial premises shared the same fate.
12- They destroyed the churches and stole some of their possessions, money and ancient books, and graphitized insults against Christianity.
All government, school, and council buildings were destroyed, along with the post office, the hospital and clinic, as well as the Finance and the Agricultural Ministry branches.
14- The crisis in Sadad led to the forced migration of some 500 families of al-Hafer, and the looting and destruction of some of their houses.
15- The families of Sadad fled from their town only in the clothes they were wearing, and anyone who brought with him money, gold or documents was robbed of them.
16- Our children have lost their future because of the destruction of the schools, the nursery, and the youth centre.
Above mentioned is a summary of the situation in Sadad and al-Hafer. On 28-10-2013 the young men returned to Sadad to repair the damage. They suffered a loss which is estimated at fifty per cent destruction, including houses which can never be rebuilt because they were totally destroyed, and have lost electricity, water and telephone connection. The state has started to repair the damage, especially that of the government buildings.
They have not yet been able to open the schools yet, and so the families have preferred to stay in their places of refuge, in order to ensure the future of their children, and to guarantee better personal security.
These events which happened in Sadad are considered the greatest massacre of Christians in Syria, and is second in the whole Middle East region after the bombing of Our Lady of the Salvation Church in Iraq, in the same month, and almost the same day in 2010. We ask if the terrorists are gone permanently, or if there is the possibility of a return for a second massacre…
3000 people were held hostage, and we cried out to world, and no-one heard us, except for the minority which came to our aid, and stood in solidarity with us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where, the Syriac conscience? Where is the human conscience? Where are my brothers, the metropolitans, priests, and friends? Where… where? And no-one answers… except for a few. There is a lump in the throat and burning in the heart for all that’s happened in my metropolitanate and its poor suffering people which no sooner did it flee to a place of refuge, then left from there empty-handed, and after all this, to where, I don’t know…
Pray for us..
Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh
Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama
OCP News Service