Protestants and Mor Gabriel on agenda at Merkel’s visit

Protestants and Mor Gabriel on agenda at Merkel’s visit

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Protestants and Mor Gabriel on agenda at Merkel’s visit

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

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.