Syriacs in Sweden to launch an initiative to take their seized properties in Turkey

Mor Gabriel Monastery in Mardin's Midyat district.

Scandinavian Syriac Churches Union has condemned the seizures of Syriacs’ properties by Turkish government and stated that they will not be silent in the face of these seizures. Meanwhile, it was reported that Swedish Liberal Party deputy Robert Hannah has submitted a written inquiry and took the matter to the Swedish Parliament.

The Union’s chairperson Aydın Zette Chelma has stated that Syriacs in the US, Australia and European countries met with embassies and demanded the Mardin Governorate’s decree for seizure to be reversed. “A couple of days ago, the Mardin Governorate offered to ‘rent the properties’ to the Syriacs in Mardin. Whose property are they renting out? They first seized our property, and now they are telling us to rent it. I know very well that there is no law and no justice in the country, but this is too much. It is shameful,” said Chelma.

Chelma, who is also the chairperson for the Union of the Swedish Syriac Churches, said that if Turkish government doesn’t take necessary steps to solve the matter, they will take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

“The AKP and Erdoğan want us to forget about the Sayfo Genocide. They don’t want us to voice it for the world. As we refuse to be silent, they want to punish us by seizing our properties… They can’t achieve anything with denial,” said Chelma and added that “Now they seize our property to tell us, ‘leave these lands for good, we don’t want you here.’ The monasteries and cemeteries that have been seized have spiritual value. These are our places of worship, our life and our honor. We won’t allow them to be touched.”

Reminding that there are still 2,100 Syriacs around Midyat, “We don’t dare return to our lands,” said Chelma and he added that “If they don’t return our grabbed lands, we will organize boycotts against Turkey around the world. We will hold mass demonstrations and marches.”

Representatives from Syriac churches working in various countries reportedly came together in Switzerland last week. The Syriac Patriarch was also present in the meeting where it was decided for the churches to play an active role and initiate attempts to have Turkey return the seized properties.

 

The issue of seized Syriacs’ properties has also been taken to the Swedish Parliament for the third time by Liberal Party deputy Robert Hannah, following inquiries by Social Democratic Workers Party deputy Yılmaz Kerimo and Christian Democratic Party deputy Robert Halef.

Hannan stated that Turkish regime has imposed an intense Turkification policy on the Syriacs who managed to survive a genocide and the churches are left empty due to the systematic oppression. Hannah asked Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström if they had any plans to condemn the seizing of Syriac lands in Mardin.

July 21, 2017

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