Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

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Fayez El Ghossein 1883 - 1938

his memoir is one of the first pieces of documentation and testimony about the Armenian Genocide

Fayez El Ghossein

Fayez El Ghossein

Fayez was born in 1883 in El Sharaeh, a village in Ottoman Syria. As the son of a sheik of the Sulut tribe, on turning 14, he was sent to school in Constantinople (now Istanbul). He then attended law school and became a lawyer. He was appointed kaimakan (sub-prefect) in Mamuret Ul Aziz, in the Kharput district, but after three years he decided to go back to Damascus to work as a freelance.

During the war he was arrested and accused both of belonging to a secret association that fought to free the Arabian territories from the Ottoman Empire and make them independent, and of being in contact with the British. Sentenced to death by court martial, he was spared and exiled to Erzerum

On the way from Damascus to Aleppo, in Severek he often met columns of deported Armenians; he saw the horrors and sufferings, the meetings with their executioners and with the managers of the Union and Progress committee. His journey was interrupted in Diarbekir as the Russians advanced. He stayed in the region for six months and gathered the secrets of Turkish officers, officials, notables, influential people, Armenian Ottoman citizens and witnesses. He saw the convoys of prisoners, witnessed massacres and the rape and murder of girls and children. 

He managed to escape and reach Bassora, a city controlled by the British to whom he begged for protection. His family knew nothing about him. He was sent first to India, to Bombay, then to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, where he met Sharif El Hussein and became his advisor. He met Lawrence of Arabia who often remembered him in his famous book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. With the son of Sharif, Feisal, and Lawrence, Fayez worked for Arabian independence and, once the war was over, he moved to Damascus.

He was appointed judge of the criminal court of Margieh, but he left the assignment due to problems of conscience and carried on his activity as a lawyer with his two wives and his many children till he died in 1938. He is buried in the cemetery in El Sharaeh.

Fayez wrote four books, including his memoirs, one of the first contemporary documents to witness the Armenian genocide at the hands of the government of the Young Turks. The text, written in Arabic in 1915 and published in 1916, is the simple and brave reproach of a Bedouin, faithful to Islamic rules and offended by the Turkish atrocities, which pushed him to denounce the evil born of mean political interests and against the teachings of Islam.

Today, in the village El Sharaeh in Syria, almost all the inhabitants have the name El Ghossein. Fayez’s son Kussei still lives in the family home, an elegant palace with a hall and pillars. In the background, there is a picture of Fayez wearing a turban and standing near the family tree of the formerly nomadic Bedouin tribe of the Salut.

Justin Mc Carthy, a world famous historian, claims that Fayez El Ghossein never actually existed, but has been invented by the Armenians to counteract those who still deny the truth about the Armenian genocide!

Righteous for the Armenians

remembered in the Wall of Remembrance of Yerevan

Every year on 24 April, the anniversary of the outbreak of Metz Yeghérn (the "Great Evil", that is to say the genocide against the Armenian people in 1915-1916) Armenians remember their rescuers with a procession to Dzidzernagapert, the “Hill of Swallows”, where the Mausoleum in memory of the victims of extermination was erected.
Since 1996 the ashes or the grave earth of the Righteous and rescuers or witnesses who tried to stop the massacres or risked their lives to denounce the Young Turks' genocidal plan and its execution are interred in the Remembrance Wall.
Pietro Kuciukian, founder of the International Committee of the Righteous for the Armenians,has been researching the Righteous figures into the survivors' pieces of testimony, the tales of their children, the writings by the eyewitnesses, the diplomatic documents and the broad literature that accompanies the events related to this genocide. He retraces their walks of life, he revives their memory by visiting the places where they are buried, he meets with the relatives and descendants who keep family memories of great intensity and then he transports their ashes or handfuls of their burial earth on the "Hill of Swallows" of Yerevan. The stones with the names of the "RIghteous for the Armenians", gathered in the Wall of Remembrance, are the tangible sign of the gratitude of the Armenian people and take on a universal kind of exemplary value.

Tales and testimony

Metz Yeghern stories

other exemplary stories featured by Gariwo