Turkey Takes Over 50 Churches, Monasteries

The Syriac church in Mardin, Turkey
The Syriac church in Mardin, Turkey (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Close to 50 churches and monasteries were taken over by the Turkish government in Mardin, a city located in the southeastern part of the country, reported the news outlet Agos.

The move was made during the time that the villages that comprise the city were turned into an official municipality. As per legislation that established the city, a “liquidation committee” was established to distribute institutions of the city whose legal permits had expired.

“For years, minority foundations could not acquire property in Turkey,” explained Kuryakos Ergun, the chairman of Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation. “Then legislative amendments were introduced in 2002 upon which we engaged in a number of initiatives.” We were able to have some of the title deeds registered in the name of our foundation. And for others, the legal process was ongoing.

“It was not possible for us to follow-up on all the title deeds … we are (now) filing lawsuits to the extent possible. In places where we couldn’t follow up the situation, some monasteries and other property were given to the legal entity of the village.”

In the latest move, the liquidation committee gave ownership of the village’s churches, monasteries and cemeteries to the Treasury Department, which in turn transferred ownership to the Diyanet, the Religious Affairs Ministry.

Appeals have been filed but with no success to date.

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Meira Svirsky
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org