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Turkey's Ugly Trap for Assyrians

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.aina.org/news/20130116185357.htm Turkey s Ugly Trap for Assyrians Posted GMT 1-17-2013 Stockholm (AINA) -- Turkey s permission to allow the Syrian
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 18, 2013
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      http://www.aina.org/news/20130116185357.htm

      Turkey's Ugly Trap for Assyrians
      Posted GMT 1-17-2013

      Stockholm (AINA) -- Turkey's permission to allow the Syrian Orthodox
      community to build a church in Istanbul after 90 years of the republican
      period did make a great splash in the Turkish press recently. At first
      glance, this decision is seen as a positive signal by everyone. But upon
      closer inspection the matter looks quite ugly and filled with mischief.

      For many years, Orthodox Assyrians (Turkish Süryani Kadim) living in
      Istanbul were using other Christian communities' churches to hold their
      holy sermons. The only existing church in Tarlabasi could understandably
      not accommodate the need of 17,000 people living in the city. In recent
      years the Assyrians asked the authorities to assign them a vacant lot to
      build a church in order to service the parishioners.

      Turkish authorities finally offered a lot of land to the administration
      of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Istanbul. However, it became clear that
      this land was seized by the government from the Latin Catholic church in
      1950 and is an old cemetery. The Latin Catholic church is in a legal
      battle with the government to acquire its land.

      The injustice done in 1950 to the Latin Catholic church is repeated
      again today against the Monastery of St. Gabriel (full coverage) in Tur
      Abdin, in southeasten of Turkey. Obviously, the high institutions of the
      Turkish state, regardless of domestic laws and signed international
      treaties, do not hesitate to confiscate minority properties based on
      political expediency.

      The Turkish authorities are trying to offer the usurped cemetery of the
      Latin Catholic church to the Assyrians in Istanbul as if it is state
      property. While the administration of the Syrian Orthodox church
      expressed some reservation about this ugly game of the government,
      Assyrian intellectuals in Istanbul and Europe voiced strong criticism.

      Sait Susin, the chairman of the Syrian Orthodox Foundation in Istanbul,
      stated in a recent interview with ACSA TV that the Latin Catholics are
      aware of the land issue and that everything will be done with their
      consent. However Nail Karatas, the Latin Catholic Church's lawyer, in a
      follow up ACSA TV interview disagreed with Sait Susin. Karatas said that
      they are against a transfer of the stolen cemetery lot to the Syrian
      Orthodox Church or to someone else and indicated that the case will be
      handed to the judiciary.

      Intellectuals within the community accuse the administration of the
      Syrian Orthodox Church in Istanbul of demonstrating an unethical
      approach to the subject, inconsistent with the righteous cause of St.
      Gabriel, and would ultimately hurt it.

      It remains to be seen how this action of the Turkish Republic, which
      brings the Latin Catholic Church in opposition to the Syrian Orthodox
      Church, will play out.

      By Dikran Ego

      Dikran Ego is freelance Journalist living in Sweden; he regularly writes
      on Assyrian matters and is a frequent guest commentator of ACSA TV.

      Translated from Turkish by AINA.

      © 2013, Assyrian International News Agency.
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