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Mor Augin Monastery’s Land in Tur-Abdin seized by Kurds

Perspective: Guest-Editorial

by Sabri Atman — Director of Seyfo Center.

Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 10:34 PM UT


The land of Mor Augin Monastery in Tur-Abdin, Turkey.
The land of Mor Augin Monastery in Tur-Abdin, Turkey.

“This is our land and we will not rest until we receive the Monastery's land back. The only hope we have is that the ‘good people’ can hear our cry and start to support us with our struggle.”

— Iskender Gabrielsson

Confiscation of Assyrian properties in Turkey is not limited during the period of the Assyrian Genocide during World War I, it is a habitual process that continues to this day. The land of the Syriac Orthodox Mor Augin Monastery, is one of the most well known Mors which has a monastery located on Mount Izlo, in the region known as Tur Abdin (the southeastern part of Turkey). Mor Augin Monastery's land has been seized by some supposedly “good” Kurds for more than forty years despite several attempts to gain back the land. The Kurds that seized the monasteries’ land are connected to The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Several promises were given to Assyrians by some well known Kurds such as Ahmet Turk, but nothing happened. Also the PKK leader, Öcalan, declared from a prison (where he has been on death sentence 1999), “I am very furious that you are not able to solve these kinds of problems. You have to interfere in the villages where the Assyrian and Ezidis land are sized. Already, these people were massacred and exiled. A handful of people are left. Now, those who do not want to stand with these handful of people and take account of the attackers are dishonest!” However, despite this strong message from Öcalan to his fellow Kurds, nothing happened and the land of the Mor Augin Monastery is under the occupation of some “good Kurds”.

I was in contact with the president of the Swedish based Mor Augin Monastery Association, Iskender Gabrielsson, who told me that they have contacted many organizations and personalities in Turkey with the hope to receive their properties back. However, all promises were given to them and ended without any sort of result. According to Gabrielsson when being talked to about the Assyrian genocide and land confiscation that has occurred hundreds of years ago, some Kurds express their regret. They accused the religious and ignorant Kurds that were used by the Turkish state, but how about these the “good Kurds that have position in the HDP”, and oppose the Turkish state? Should we only blame the Turkish state? Gabrielsson asks, “When will the Kurds take responsibility for their actions?”

The representatives of HDP and other Kurdish personalities were informed several times about this issue. Besides these, some commissions were created in order to solve the land problem, in both Ankara and Istanbul. But when the delegates of these commissions went to the region, they remained powerless towards the authoritative Kurdish tribes and their interest in confiscating the Assyrian lands.

According to Gabrielsson, the occupant’s strategy is to tire the Assyrians and see them give up. But he stated, “This is our land and we will not rest until we receive the Monastery's land back. The only hope we have is that the ‘good people’ can hear our cry and start to support us with our struggle.” We don’t want Kurds to remain known as “dishonest and powerless people” towards the handful of Kurdish tribes that seized Mor Augin Monastery’s land for the last forty years.



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