ASIA/TURKEY - European Award for the Armenian church in Diyarbakir, confiscated by the government

Friday, 6 May 2016 religious minorities  


Diyarbakir (Agenzia Fides) - The Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Giragos (San Ciriaco) in Diyarbakır has been awarded for its recent restoration by the European Union, but the awards ceremony and the laying of the commemorating plaque of the award cannot be held at the place of worship, which since March has been confiscated by the Turkish military authorities for security purposes, along with other churches in the historic center of the city.
Turkish sources, consulted by Agenzia Fides, report that the European Union Award for the cultural heritage was assigned to the historical Armenian church in Diyarbakir for the great success of the restoration work carried out. The restoration work, supported by the Armenian Apostolic communities across Turkey, had also represented a significant moment for reconciliation among the different components in the city and collaboration with local authorities.
The one in Diyarbakir is the largest Armenian church in the Middle East. Its majestic tower can be seen from every corner of the city, it is a remake of the original, which was destroyed by a gunfire in 1914.
In late March, the Turkish government had seized a large area of the metropolis, located on the bank of the Tigris River, in the context of the military operations carried out in southern Turkey against Kurdish positions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
All the churches in Diyarbakir arise in the urban area seized: in addition to the Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Giragos (Ciriaco), there is also 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. Already at the time of expropriation, no Christian church in Diyarbakir appeared open for worship. In recent weeks (see Fides 03/05/2016), the appeals filed by the legal representatives of foundations linked to the Christian community against the order of urgent expropriation imposed by the government have multiplied. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 06/05/2016)