ASIA/TURKEY - Turkish government seizes more than fifty Syriac-Orthodox churches, monasteries and cemeteries

Friday, 30 June 2017 oriental churches   middle east  


Ankara (Agenzia Fides) – There are at least fifty Syriac-Orthodox churches, monasteries and cemeteries scattered around Mardin, which have recently been seized by the Turkish government under the direct attention of the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet, a body directly linked to the Prime Minister, ndr). According to local sources such as the weekly bilingual Turkish Armenian Agos, after Mardin became a Metropolitan Municipality, its villages were officially turned into neighbourhoods as per the law and attached to the provincial administration. In 2016, the Transfer, Liquidation and Redistribution Committee of Mardin Governorate transferred to primarily the Treasury as well as other relevant public institutions numerous churches, monasteries, cemeteries and other assets of the Syriac community in the districts of Mardin. The appeal filed against that decision by the Mor Gabriel Foundation - which in 2013, after a lengthy legal dispute, had obtained the return of the historic Syriac Orthodox Monastery of Mor Gabriel (in the photo), which dates back to the 4th Century after Christ - was rejected last May by Turkish administrative bodies. Now, the Mor Gabriel Foundation has filed a petition to the Civic Court in Mardin to stop and annul the systematic and official plundering of their properties. Meanwhile, organizations of Syriac Orthodox Christian migrants in Europe - like the European Syriac Union - have begun to mobilize as what they call "an illegal seizure" created in the region that represents an area of historical rooting of Syriac Christian communities. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 30/6/2017)