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The reason my family exists

100 years ago today a genocide was initiated in the disintegrating Ottoman Empire. Anders Q Björkman of the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet tells the story how his family was saved thanks to a small village that took to arms and defended itself.

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Morden på kristna fortsatte efter 1915. Bilden visar offren för en massavrättning i Aleppo 1919.

Foto: LIBRARY OF CONGRESSBild 1 av 4

En armenisk kvinna knäböjer vid sin döda dotter nära Aleppo i nuvarande Syrien.

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Familjeporträtt på en kristen familj från Midyat i Turabdin, kärnland för kristna assyrier/syrianer i sydöstra Turkiet.

Foto: FAMILJEPORTRÄTT PÅ EN KRISTEN FAMILJ FRÅN MIDYAT I TURABDIN KÄRNLAND FÖR KRISTNA ASSYRIER/SYRIANER I SYDÖSTRA TURKIET.Bild 3 av 4

Om det här fotot skrev USA:s ambassadör: ”Vyer som den här var vanliga i alla de armeniska provinserna under våren och sommaren 1915”.

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The girl was 12 years old.

On a spring day 1975 she started a bus journey together with parents and siblings: 1 550 kilometers, from their home town of Midyat in southeastern Turkey to the metropole of Istanbul in the other end of the country. They spent one night on the bus and then slept the following night in Istanbul. From there by train, via West Germany, all the way to Stockholm, Sweden. Thousands of years their roots had been firmly grounded in the red soil of the region around Midyat. Now the family was to take root in another part of the world. The mother and the father had however already found employment at the truck manufacturer Scania in Södertälje, just south of the Swedish capital Stockholm. They left their old lives as housewife and silversmith in their home country and overnight the family of nine persons became immigrants.

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