Sunday, July 23, 2017

Seizure of Aramean land in Turkey still unresolved

ASSYRIAN (MODERN SYRIAC) WATCH: Legal Limbo of Turkey's Assyrian Christian Properties Still Unresolved (Barbara G. Baker,WorldWatch Monitor via AINA).
In less than two weeks, the Mardin Governorate had stepped back from its decision to give the Christian properties over to control of the Muslim directorate. Calling together representatives of the three Syriac foundations whose properties had been confiscated, the governorate cancelled the transfer on 3 July; but that left the disputed properties back again under treasury control.

The Mardin Governorate's original court order transferring the Syriac deeds to the Religious Affairs Directorate was dated 12 August 2014. The Syriac church had not been informed of this judicial action taken nearly three years ago.

The 3 July cancellation order specified that a legal amendment was required "for the problem's exact solution". The Syriac community agreed, with the Syriac foundation chairmen sending a formal petition that same day, requesting Ankara to take a second step: transfer the ownership of all the church property deeds currently held by the treasury over to their respective Syriac foundations.

To date, the Syriac community has received no response to their petition from Turkey's central government.

Unless Ankara agrees to return the seized properties to official church ownership and amends the law, the Syriac community is left with only one alternative: file 100 or more separate court cases to gain back their centuries-old properties, a very expensive and lengthy option that would take years to complete.

"They can give them back to us, or not; it's up to them!" one Syriac leader who wished to withhold his name told World Watch Monitor. "It's out of our hands. We can't do anything unless they reveal the realities!"

"But always," he sighed, "they are coming to us with a club! You have taken them away from us. Now are you going to give them back? Or do you just want us to leave?"
The actions of the Turkish Government could be taken to look that way. Whatever the full merits of the case, and I cannot myself claim to have complete information, the world is watching. It needs to be resolved.

This article has detailed background on the story. For additional background, see here and links.

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