Washington Examiner | Nuri Kino | February 2, 2020
As far as I know, Sabri Masoud, of Hasankeyf in southeastern Turkey, is the only living Christian born in one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world.
He might also be the only living survivor of the genocide of Christians in the Ottoman Empire that took place there between 1915 and 1923.
The first time I heard about him, I had no idea that he and I were related. Archbishop George Saliba of the Syriac Orthodox Church, who has his residence in Beirut, had told me about Masoud, describing the man who was about to celebrate his birthday as one of the most elegant, bravest, and smartest men he knew. He is, it turns out, my grandmother’s cousin.
In 1924, when he was four years old, Sabri, along with his family (his mother and his father, Yusuf), fled to the Sinjar Mountains in Iraq, where the majority of the inhabitants were Yazidis. His parents had by then lost hope that Christians could live in Turkey.
His brother Suleyman (my grandmother’s father) had stayed in Turkey and fled to Kerburan, a place still populated by Syriac and Armenian Christians. Sabri’s other uncle, Isa, had fled to Qamishli in Syria.
So, the three brothers and their young families were now separated and living in three different countries.