ASIA/TURKEY - In the offensive against Kurdish militias, the Turkish government even "expropriates" the churches in Diyarbakir

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 area crisis  


Diyarbakir (Agenzia Fides) - In the context of the military operations carried out in southern Turkey against Kurdish positions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the government in Ankara ordered the expropriation of a large area of the historical center of Diyarbakir even confiscating all the churches of the city which stands on the bank of the Tigris River. This is what local sources reported, relaunched by Agos, the Turkish-Armenian bilingual newspaper published in Istanbul.
The order of expropriation of the government was also published on the Prime Minister's Official Journal, and involved the Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Giragos (Ciriaco), the Syriac church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Chaldean church of Mar Sarkis (St. Sergius), the Armenian Catholic church and a Protestant place of worship, in addition to more than 6 thousand homes, located mostly in the old Town. At the moment no Christian church in Diyarbakir is open for worship.
The Turkish official Adnan Ertem, head of the Directorate of Religious Foundations, presented the expropriation as a preventive measure to safeguard the historic center of Diyarbakir by the devastation caused by the conflict. While Nevin Solukaya, head of the Office for Culture of the city of Diyarbakir, suggested to the Foundations who are responsible as owners of several expropriated churches to appeal against nationalization.
The Armenian church of San Ciriaco, recently restored after years of neglect and exhausting negotiations with civil authorities, is one of the largest Armenian churches in the Middle East, and has a long history.
On Monday, March 28, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that since last July - when clashes with insurgents resumed in areas of the country where the Kurdish minority is concentrated - the Turkish armed forces killed more than 5,000 PKK militants while in the same period government security forces recorded among its ranks 355 dead. In the on and off conflict between the Turkish army and paramilitary groups, the conflict that began in July is the bloodiest season registered in the last two decades. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 30/03/2016)