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Turkish MP Labels Murder of Elderly Assyrian As Tactic to Deter Community's Land Claims
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The recent murder of an elderly Syriac [Assyrian] was a targeted act to intimidate the Syriac community in Turkey's southeastern province of Mardin (Mêrdîn), and to deter their land claims, according to George Aslan, a Syriac MP from Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP).

The incident, which occurred on the night of 6 November, involved Akgüç being attacked by unidentified assailants wielding firearms. Despite the efforts of medical teams who responded to the scene and subsequently performed surgery, Akgüç succumbed to his injuries.

The incident has heightened tensions over the ancestral land rights of Turkey's Syriac community in Mardin (Mêrdîn). Although the southeastern city now has a Kurdish majority, the Syriac community has historically been significant in the region, with a presence dating back centuries. Akgüç was a respected figure who had returned to his ancestral village in Yemişli (Enhil) after living in Istanbul.

In a parliamentary address on Tuesday, Aslan called on the government to reveal the instigators of the attack, recalling the forced displacement of Syriacs in the 1990s, and the recent pattern of attacks on returnees from the diaspora.

"The unresolved murder of Hürmüz Diril and now the killing of Gevriye Akgüç are not isolated incidents but part of a systematic campaign against our community to drive us away from our lands," Aslan asserted.

Aslan referred to Syriac couple Şimoni Diril (65) and Hürmüz Diril, who disappeared in January 2020 from Turkey's southeastern province of Şırnak (Şirnex). Three months later, Şimoni Diril was found dead only minutes from their village. Hürmüz Diril remains missing.

The Syriac newspaper Sabro reported that of 15 individuals detained in connection with the investigation, 12 have been released. The newspaper highlighted the community's shock and the urgency for justice in the case, underscoring the broader concerns of safety for the Syriac population in the region.

Sabro also underscored the palpable tension within the Syriac community, as they mourn the loss of Akgüç.

The Syriac Associations Federation has demanded that Akgüç's murder not remain unresolved, following the release of the last three individuals detained during an initial investigation. The World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (WCA) condemned the attack, urging Turkish authorities to ensure a thorough investigation and justice for Akgüç, who was also a presenter for the Aramaic TV Channel Suryoyo Sat. The WCA has shared the family's loss, with President Johny Messo expressing, "We will not rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice."

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