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  • Chev. Thomas Daniel
    Dec 10, 2008


      Your Excellency,

      Greetings! We are writing this letter to bring to your kind attention
      the recent developments that is taking place in connection with our
      Mor Gabriel Monastery, also called Deyrulumur, in Midyat, Turkey. As
      Your Excellency might be aware of, the Mor Gabriel Monastery,
      established in 397.AD, is a very important historic monument and a
      holy place for the entire Christendom and particularly for the Syriac
      Christians all over the world. This has been a religious place of
      lofty regards and a centre of high reverence for the Syriac people
      all through out its history. It was owned and cherished by the Syriac
      church fathers, and the monastery enjoyed full freedom of ownership
      of its land and properties from the time of its inception. Even the
      people of other religions upheld in high esteem and respected this
      institution as a holy place for all. For most of the non-Turkish
      origin Syriac Christians, the first thing, that, the very name:
      Turkey, immediately bringing to their mind, with reverence to the
      esteemed land of Turkey, is about their holy monasteries in Turkey,
      like the Mor Gabriel Monastery of Midyat, Deir-ul-Zaafran of Mardin,
      the Holy place: Antioch etc

      But some of the disputes and false claims that have recently arisen
      regarding the territorial ownership of the monastery deserve serious
      attention of all. This very sensitive and touching issue is imparting
      much sorrow and anxiety to us and to the entire Syriac communities
      all over the world. As has been detailed in the attached report of
      the bishop of the Monastery, Metropolitan Mor Timotheos Samuel Aktas,
      the Cadastral Survey Department and some misguided people of the
      surrounding villages, is coming up with unjustifiable claims about
      the property rights of the monastery.

      It is a very sad as well as very serious matter, that, even after
      producing enough concrete proofs and solid supporting governmental
      documental evidences to prove the historic rights of ownership of the
      land and properties of the monastery, the present Cadstral Survey
      Department and other government departments are going ahead blindly
      with their false claims and proceedings regarding the boundaries of
      the land of the monastery. The claims of the department are
      absolutely against the prevailing rights of the minority communities,
      now prevalent in the esteemed country of Turkey and these are against
      the International treaties and agreements reached with Turkey.

      Also the ill motivated and illogical allegations and complaints of
      some of the nearby villagers, as detailed in the attached report are
      also to be considered very serious infringements, and as an attempt
      to breach the religious freedom, and putting at risk, the peace and
      harmony enjoyed by the minority communities in Turkey. Now, at a
      time, when many of the Syriac Christians of Turkish origin in
      diaspora, who had to flee their homeland for fear of their life in
      the difficult tides of times, want to return to Turkey â€" (the
      settlement at the village ‘Kaphra’ in southern Turkey is a good
      example for that), this sort of incursions and attacking mentality
      brings serious concern, fear and disappointment in the minds of them.
      Moreover this will fade and disfigure the good image that the nation
      Turkey is achieving.

      So, Your Excellency, please consider this issue with proper
      importance and through your reputed office, we would like to bring to
      the attention of the esteemed government of Turkey, to take some
      urgent, decisive and fruitful actions in order to safeguard the
      rights of the Syriac Christian communities in Turkey, and to provide
      enough protection to them from the incursive forces that endanger the
      life and freedom of the Syriac minorities in Turkey, that they had
      enjoyed since the inception of Christianity in the first century AD.

      With thanks and sincere regards,

      Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
      Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
      Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church