POLITICS > Protestants and Mor Gabriel on agenda at Merkel’s visit

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

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German Chancellor Merkel shakes hands with the Syriac Mor Gabriel Monastery's Metropolitan Archbishop, Samuel Aktaş. AA photo

German Chancellor Merkel shakes hands with the Syriac Mor Gabriel Monastery's Metropolitan Archbishop, Samuel Aktaş. AA photo

Vercihan Ziflioğlu Vercihan Ziflioğlu vercihan.ziflioglu@hurriyet.com.tr

Mor Gabriel Monastery and the Malatya Zirve Publishing House Massacre were among the main agenda topics during talks in Ankara on Feb. 25, in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with various spiritual leaders.

Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew, Acting Patriarch Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva, Syriac Mor Gabriel Monastery’s Metropolitan Archbishop Samuel Aktaş, the Turkish Syriac Catholic Deputy Patriarch Chorepiscopus Yusuf Sağ, and Ümit Şahin, Protestant Churches Association General Secretary and Coordinator of the Association’s Committee on Religious Freedom, were present in the meeting, which was held in the Official Residence of the Prime Ministry.

The issue of the historic Mor Gabriel Monastery in the Midyat district of the southeastern province of Mardin, which was given to the treasury despite several appeals from the Syriac Church, was on the agenda. A source who did not want to be named also told the Hürriyet Daily News that the problems regarding Mor Gabriel were the focus of the talks.

Victim’s wife asks for citizenship

“We at least saw that the state values and accepts us on legitimate grounds. We hope to be a part of the dialogue process from now on,” Ümit Şahin said.

Şahin also said they mostly focused on the Zirve massacre case and the problems Suzanna Geske – the wife of massacre victim Tillman Geske – faced regarding her Turkish citizenship, excluding religion boxes on ID cards, and various issues concerning the church building. “Geske’s application for Turkish citizenship was rejected, and she appealed it for the second time. The Prime Minister told his advisors to deal with the matter,” Şahin said. Three missionaries – German citizen Tillman Geske and two Turks, Necati Aydın and Uğur Yüksel – were tied up and tortured before their throats were slit at the Zirve Publishing House, a Christian publisher in the eastern province of Malatya, on April 18, 2007.

Syriac group calls on HRW to enlighten killings 

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

A Brussel-based Syriac rights group, known as the European Syriac Union (ESU), has sent a report regarding 50 Syriacs killed in Turkey between 1987 and 1998 during clashes between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces to the Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Well-known Syriac personalities, among them doctors, a former district mayor and businessmen were killed by unknown assailants as Syriac villages were damaged or fully evacuated,” David Vergili, a spokesman for the ESU, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

The ESU has called on the HRW to investigate the killings of those Syriacs and enact pressure on state authorities in order to have these incidents resolved, the report titled “The Situation of the Syriacs in Turkey-2012” said.

“Following the intensification of conflict in the region, Syriac people had become easy target for the shadowy groups. Due to lack of juridical and security mechanisms, deep groups with strong ties had been developed [in the region] and established a region of terror. Syriac people, without any reason, were victim of killings,” said Vergili, recalling that around 50 Syriacs were killed in those days.


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Notice on comments

Suhail Shafi

2/27/2013 7:01:00 PM

Maybe Merkel would be better off sorting out Germany's own multicultural society, which by her own declarations has been a failure, rather than telling other countries how to deal with their minorities. I am surprised how the Turks have tolerated her in their country, to say nothing of the German soldiers stationed in the south of their country.

john albay

2/27/2013 5:50:41 PM

@mara I am not sure you are correct about Turks getting german citizenship because a child is born in germany is correct,because I know that many Turks in the second and even 3rd generation are dedied german citizenship.As for the viel I agree that if arabs etc go to Europe they should not be allow to wear the viel,it is backward,we in Turkey and the TRNC dont tell anyone to wear or not wear the viel in the EU as Turkish women dont wear the Backward viel.

mara mcglothin

2/27/2013 5:14:14 PM

GAYLE You might be aware of Germany's double standard because Germans as a rule are pretty straight forward, where as in Turkey nothing is as it appears. Many ethnic people and foreigners and people of other religion live all together making Turkey look like a place where everyone lives in harmony, BUT didn't you read the pole where most Turks don't want to live next door to a Christian. So Turks are just not as forthcoming with their prejudices as Germans.

mara mcglothin

2/27/2013 4:55:48 PM

JOHN It is easy. In Germany, all a Turk has to do is have a child then they automatically are allowed to apply for full citizenship because their child is officially German. It is perfectly okay for Turkey to dictate to others on a daily basis, but Turkey is not expected to handle the reciprocal of that?

mara mcglothin

2/27/2013 4:24:04 PM

JOHN I seem to recall many people objecting to countries in Europe banning the veil from society, and many foreigners reacting to that. So Turkey is constantly teaching the EU what to do.

Gayle Ataceri

2/27/2013 4:00:15 PM

John, I agree with you about Germany's double standards.Having lived in both countries, my experience is that Turks are more welcoming of foreigners and less xenophobic than Germans are. The question this article fails to answer is whether Mrs. Geske has met the Turkish government’s own requirements for citizenship (years in residence, adequate means of support, etc.). I hope that modern Turkey will distinguish itself by embracing many cultures, as did its predecessor, the Ottoman empire.

john albay

2/27/2013 12:23:47 PM

It was wrong to kill these people! Why should Turkey give this lady Turkish citizenship? The germans turn down thousands of Turks who want Turkish citizenship every year. As for how we run our country and what we put in/on our IDs is a matter of Turkey and only Turkey no one else!! We dont tell the EU what to do(even though they think they should tell us what to do!!) and the germans should not and can not tell us what to do.


2/27/2013 12:35:33 AM

Fortunately Mr. Erdogan the mighty cannot erase the past. The time for Turkey to start issueing apologies to those it has abused in the name of nationalism is finally here. Regards
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