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Turkey Wants to Clear the Region of Ancient Peoples
By Murat Kuseyri

Following a legislative amendment introduced in late 2012, the Governorate of Mardin established a liquidation committee. The Liquidation Committee started to redistribute in the city, the property of institutions whose legal entity had expired. The transfer and liquidation procedures are still ongoing.

In 2016, the Transfer, Liquidation and Redistribution Committee of Mardin Governorate transferred to primarily the Treasury as well as other relevant public institutions numerous churches, monasteries, cemeteries and other assets of the Syriac community in the districts of Mardin.

Related: The Case of the St. Gabriel Assyrian Monastery in Midyat, Turkey

In mid June, more churches, monasteries, graveyards and other assets of the Syriac community in Mardin have been usurped and transferred to the state's Treasury and other relevant state institutions.

Writer and analyst Jan Bet- Şawoce spoke about the Turkish state's seizure of Syriacs' property in Mardin and called these practices of the AKP regime a continuation of Ottoman policies which based on the blood of non-Muslim people.

Commenting these practices as intentions to homogenize the region completely and to clear it from ancient peoples, Şawoce said the following: "The Ottoman policy was built at the expense of non-Muslim people. They enforced their policy throughout their history by stirring chaos under which disguise they grabbed the desired swathes of land and properties and tried to subjugate the peoples' will. Then they would always make sure that the owners could never remember that, by destroying all written records of those practices. And unfortunately it actually gets overwritten after two-three generations have passed. What should one expect from their future, how should one think of their own history, when former churches and monasteries are being used by them as mosques, state's offices and such for a long time?"


Sawoce continued as follows: "Let me give an example, today the extent of the Turkish military base in Midyat used to be the Monastery of Mor Šarbel until the Sayfo genocide. The Great Mosque is actually a Nestorian Church. The municipality is built on what used to be a Chaldean Church. The People's House was in the past a protestant guest house. There are many such examples in Mardin, Amed, Siirt, Hakkari, Cizre, Urfa, Adıyaman, Nusaybin, Sirnak, Bitlis, Van, Antakya, Mersin and many other cities where the Turkish state has changed the original form of such buildings.

They did the same to buildings of Greek, Armenian, Pontus and Ibrani communities in big cities. Ayasofya is just one such example.

Their goal is to homogenize Anatolia, Mesopotamia, West-Armenia and the Aegean. In other words, they want to create a picture which says that all these places have been Turkish and Muslim since ever, and to obstruct in that way the righteous claims of the true owners."


Regarding what the Syrian people want in the face of this situation, Sawoçe said: "The demands of the Syriac people in the east and west of the world are clear and obvious as they have always been: The Turkish state should be prosecuted for the crimes they committed in history, and they shall pay for those!

They said 'Return to your soil', 'Come rebuild your villages', 'Resettle in your villages'! Many people believed them and returned, but thousands were befallen by predicaments which they still have to cope with.

The trust we had in the state, turned into a deep distrust. Unfortunately the state did this with their own hands."

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