Mardin locals fear confiscation after Mor Gabriel land decision
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
A number of villagers in Mardin think the return of the houses may come onto the agenda and that their historical properties could be confiscated for low prices. DHA photoVillagers living in southeastern Turkey plan to sell their houses, evacuated by Armenians and Syriacs in the past, over concerns that they could be next in line following the government’s recent decision to return the lands of Mor Gabriel Monastery to the Syriac Foundation.
Abdülkadir E. is a member of one of these families, and wants to sell his house, which used to belong to Christians in the province of Mardin.
Declining to declare his surname as he is a public servant, Abdukadir E. recently told the Hürriyet Daily News that the government’s decision to return the Mor Gabriel Monastery’s land to the Syriac Foundation had worried locals about the future of their house.
“I have been thinking about selling the house for a while, but the decision [to return the Mor Gabriel land] has been influential in my thinking. We have the land title but we are worried that our houses will be confiscated with this decision. This house belonged to Christians [in the past],” he said.
Plans to sell house to Mor Gabriel Foundation
He said he planned to sell the house to the [Mor Gabriel Monastery] Foundation for around 300,000 Turkish Liras, but stressed that he was not aiming to gain "easy money" over the house.
He also said that he was worried about the reactions from the locals over his decision to sell the house to the foundation. “Actually we are worried about the possible reactions from the Muslim community over our decision to sell the house to the foundation,” he said.
The Mardin General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadaster officials has said there was no obstacle before those who possess the land titles in selling their property. Many houses evacuated by Armenians and Syriacs in the past started to be used by the locals and their inheritors now hold the land titles for these properties.
Tevfik Gümüşay, living in Midyat district of Mardin, also said he wanted to sell his house after the recent decision on Mor Gabriel, which was announced as part of the government’s recent "democratization package."
“We thought the return of the houses may come to the agenda and our houses may be confiscated for lower prices. This is why we want to sell the house,” said Gümüşay who is holding the land title of the house.
Atiye Erdem is another local who plans to sell the historical house, despite having the land title, said they want to sell the house to the first who wants to buy it at a good price.
The Assembly of Foundations, the highest decision-making body of the general directorate for foundations, decided on Oct. 7 to return the lands of the historic Mor Gabriel Monastery to the Syriac community in Turkey. Mor Gabriel is a 1,700-year-old historic monastery located in the southeastern province of Mardin’s Midyat district. In 2008, the Forestry Ministry, the Land Registry Cadaster Office and the villages of Yayvantepe, Çandarlı and Eğlence sued the monastery for allegedly “occupying” their fields.