Turkey's minority foundations meet in Mardin for iftar dinner

Turkey's minority foundations meet in Mardin for iftar dinner

MARDİN – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkeys minority foundations meet in Mardin for iftar dinner

Diyarbakır Gov Mustafa Cahit Kıraç hosted the iftar dinner, which was attended by several religious leaders and politicians. Minorities’ problems were also highlighted during the organization. AA photo

Members of Turkey’s minority foundations gathered in Mardin for an iftar dinner organized by Mardin Catholic Syriac Foundation upon the idea from Laki Vingas, minority foundations representative for the Directorate General of Foundations, Aug. 6.

Mardin Syriac Catholics Foundation member Münir Üçkardeş said it was remarkable that the fast-breaking dinner took place in the southeastern Turkish province of Mardin, rather than Istanbul.

“Those foundations are struggling to survive here,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News. “Even though they have representatives in Istanbul, the fact that those foundations are telling their problems firsthand means a lot.

Üçkardeş added that a great number of foundations’ members had to migrate and many of the communities had lost their lands.

He added that foundations’ administrations had found the chance to meet the Directorate General of Foundations at the gathering, which was important.

The Mor Gabriel Monastery is one of the most important subjects on the agenda.

“This is a big issue. It is not only interesting for the Syriac community, but it is the heritage for all mankind.”

Mor Gabriel is a 1,700-year-old historical monastery located in Mardin’s Midyat district. In 2008, the Forestry Ministry, the Land Registry Cadastre Office and the villages of Yayvantepe, Çandarlı and Eğlence sued the monastery for allegedly occupying their fields. The lawsuit was finalized last year, recognizing the monastery as an “occupier.” The case was then brought to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The future of the monastery currently hinges on the ECHR’s decision. “We need to protect those foundations, the state owes this to them,” Vingas said.

“Mor Gabriel Monastery’s problems are well known, but few people think that there is a chain of communities there and they have their lands,” he added.

Vingas said the iftar did not have political motivations, but called for a “cultural transformation.” “As the whole country, we are living in suspicion. We need a cultural transformation,” he said, adding that “democracy, transparency and state’s support” were needed for that.

“There will always be problems. What matters most is that you accept the existence of problems,” Vingas added. “If you recognize the problem, you can find a solution.”