European Court Dismisses Lawsuit Filed By Assyrian Monastery Against Turkey
By Bar Daisan
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Midyat, Turkey (AINA) -- According to a press release by the Foundation of Mar Gabriel Monastery, on June 9, 2019 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) published a decision dismissing a lawsuit for the return of property of the monastery because to "missing documents."

The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by the Foundation.

In the context of cadastral work in 2007 and 2008, deeds of 30 parcels (totaling 276 decares) of the monastery land were transferred to the Turkish state treasury. After several unsuccesful trials in Turkey, the Foundation of Mar Gabriel submitted the matter to the ECHR in 2011.

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

On September 30, 2013, President Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister at that time, announced as part of his "democratization package" that the monastery lands would be returned to the Foundation. But only 12 of the 30 parcels have been returned to the foundation to date.

The rejection of the lawsuit comes as a big surprise to the monastery and the Assyrian Diaspora. In an interview with Assyria TV, Kuryakos Ergün, the President of the Foundation of Mar Gabriel, expressed shock, as many European followers and supporters of the case of the monastery were signaling a positive outcome of the lawsuit for the monastery.

"There has been intense exchange of documents and information with the ECHR," says Ergün, "within the scope of the application, some missing documents were requested by the ECHR in 2012 and delivered to the court."

The foundation's press release says that the judgment by the ECHR "contradicts with previous ECHR judgments concerning [religious] community foundations." In addition, the judgment has apparently been íssued "without assessing the evidence we presented during prosecutions in Turkey." Hence, the foundation sees this judgment as "explicitely contrary to the spirit of the European Convention for Human Rights and the established ECHR jurisprudence on [religious] community foundations."

Tuma Celik, the Assyrian MP (HDP Party member) in the Turkish Parliament, interprets the decision of the ECHR as a political balancing act. "As has been observed recently the court has taken decisions that can be considered politically balancing rather than decisions based on the rule of law," he said. "In several cases dealing with Turkey the ECHR has taken decisions that have nothing to do with the law."

The foundation is evaluating options to resubmit the case.

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