ASSYRIANS EXPERIENCE SLOW CULTURAL REVIVAL IN SOUTHEASTERN TURKEY
Yigal Schleifer 8/18/06
Filled with honey-colored stone homes with exquisite relief carvings, Midyat, located in southeast Turkey, is one of the country’s most beautiful ancient towns. It is also one of its most haunted.
Once almost exclusively populated by Assyrian Christians � an ancient sect that traces its roots back to the earliest days of Christianity and that still uses Aramaic, the language spoken during the time of Jesus, for its liturgy � the town is now almost completely devoid of its original inhabitants.
Caught up in the violence that resulted from the separatist war that was fought in the area in the 1980’s and 90’s between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces, Assyrians from Midyat and several other towns and villages in the area fled to Europe, particularly Germany and Sweden, leaving their ancestral homeland behind.
Some 30-40,000 Assyrians lived in the area around Midyat, known as the Tur Abdin Plateau, 40 years ago. Nobody is sure what the population is today, although in Midyat only 100 Christian families remain.
Still, there are signs of Assyrian life throughout the region. ...
Saturday, August 19, 2006
ARAMAIC WATCH -- An Assyrian town in Turkey is profiled by Eurasianet: