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Syriacs continue battle over religious buildings

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Syriacs continue battle over religious buildings

Aug-08-2013 at 07:36 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

The Syriac Catholic Patriarchate land, which includes a church, is in a poor condition now.
Photo: Hürriyet Daily News
Syriacs continue battle over religious buildings
by Vercihan Ziflioğlu.
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News, August 8, 2013.

Turkey’s Syriac community is determined to continue their legal battle over religious buildings in Mardin, and is willing to take the ECHR option

Mardin’s Syriacs will continue their legal battle after Mor Gabriel, seeking to reclaim their rights to Syriac Catholic Patriarchate land and the Mor Efrem Monastery.

Despite a decree signed in 2011 to return property taken away from them, minorities have yet to take their lands back. Münir Üçkardeş, a member of the Mardin Syriac Catholics Foundation, said the Constitutional Court had ruled against them, who will take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

“We are sons of this country, we don’t want to complain about our country ,” Üçkardeş told the Hürriyet Daily News during an Aug. 5 iftar dinner where members of minorities gathered and presented their problems to state officials. “If step back from the mistake, we could withdraw from taking the issue to the ECHR.”

Mor Gabriel is a 1,700-year-old monastery located in Mardin’s Midyat district. In 2008, the Forestry Ministry, the Land Registry Office and the villages of Yayvantepe, Çandarlı and Eğlence sued the monastery for allegedly occupying their fields. The court recognized the monastery as an “occupier,” after which the case was brought to the ECHR.”
Controversial status

The Directorate General of Foundations head Adnan Ertem said some developments could happen in the Mor Gabriel case, but the other buildings exceeded the body’s authority.

“As the Directorate General of Foundations, it is impossible for us to respond to all problems,” Ertem told the Daily News. “Issues of expropriation are subjects of general law, so there is not much we can do about the patriarchate land.”

Mor Gabriel is a 1,700-year-old monastery located in Mardin’s Midyat district. In 2008, the Forestry Ministry, the Land Registry Office and the villages of Yayvantepe, Çandarlı and Eğlence sued the monastery for allegedly occupying their fields. The court recognized the monastery as an “occupier,” after which the case was brought to the ECHR.

Ertem also criticized the community for “not appealing between 1940 and 1960,” noting that legally, appeals should have been made in the 10 years following the expropriation, and once this term is exceeded, it leads to foreclosure. “Minority communities should self-criticize on that issue,” he said.

Ankara has been working on the return of Syriac Orthodox and Catholic Patriarchates to Turkey from Damascus and Beirut, respectively.

“Ankara is making a call to patriarchs and probably mulling returning the lands by allocating them, without giving the ownership,” Üçkardeş said. “However, our patriarchs will not return on such conditions.”

Currently, both the patriarchate land, which includes a church, and the Mor Efrem Monastery are in poor condition. Books, paintings and icons are not treated well and need to be treated well in order to avoid irreparable damage.

“It breaks our hearts,” Üçkardeş said.

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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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