News in Bet-Nahren, Assyria

Turk Police Arrest Priest for Genocide Remarks
by Reuters
Posted: Thursday, October 05, 2000 09:06 pm CST


DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Turkish police on Thursday said they had arrested a Syriac priest after he allegedly told newspapers his Christian minority community had been the victims of genocide carried out by Turks.

Police in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir told Reuters they had detained and questioned Father Yusuf Akbulut about stories in Turkish newspapers quoting him as saying Turks had systematically killed Syriac Christians in the southeast.

Turkish officials have been outraged by a U.S. Congressional panel's approval this week of a non-binding resolution urging U.S. President Bill Clinton to characterise the killings of Armenians in the latter days of the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

Turkey rejects the charges, emphasising the context of widespread partisan fighting in Anatolia in 1915, and characterises an Armenian minority as rebels carrying out Russian plans to carve up the country.

Police said a prosecutor had freed Akbulut, who denied having claimed his community had suffered genocide at the hands of Turks. Turkey is overwhelmingly Muslim.

A few thousand Syriac Christians, among the world's oldest denominations, live in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, formerly the site of fierce conflict between Turkish forces and separatist Kurdish rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party.

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