Midyat churchgoers remain on edge after attack during sunday mass

Midyat, Southeast Turkey

Turkish police have arrested a local man charged with terrorizing churchgoers in Midyat, Turkey. The Syriac Universal Alliance (SUA), the recognised United Nations NGO representing the Aramean (Syriac) people worldwide, condemns the actions of a 27-year-old Kurdish man intended to intimidate churchgoers at Mor Barsaumo Syriac Orthodox Church in Midyat on 22 August 2010.

Witnesses report seeing the assailant enter the church and walk directly to the altar. The individual then faced the terrified congregation and kissed the Turkish flag three times while simultaneously clutching a large hammer in his other hand. Members of the congregation then forced the man out of the church in an effort to avoid any further harm to those attending Holy Mass.

The SUA also understands that two weeks prior to this incident, the same perpetrator set fire to protected mountain lands of Mor Gabriel Monastery. No action was taken against the assailant at that time. The young man reportedly is of Kurdish descent from the village of Zinavle (Turkish: Eğlence).

The village of Zinavle lies at the border of Saint Gabriel Monastery in Midyat, which has claimed a sizable amount of land against the Monastery in recent court cases. In an amazing twist, the offender appears to be the son of Mahmut Düz, one of the three individuals who filed the Land Boundary Case against the Monastery on 20 August 2008. Furthermore, this same individual, Mahmut Düz, also issued a letter that outlined 10 false allegations against the Monastery. This contrived letter was submitted to the Midyat Public Prosecution Office on 27 August 2008.2His brother Abdullah Düz, however, is reportedly the mastermind behind all anti-Mor Gabriel acts. 


Remarkably, the Midyat incident from outside the church property was captured on CCTV and can be viewed at http://www.midyathabur.com/haber_detay.asp?haberID=9061.

Following the incident, the local community leaders confronted the local police questioning the actions of the assailant, only to be told that he is mentally disturbed, a defence claimed often by the Turkish authorities to condone criminal behaviour. Such replies being recently used, for instance, when Luigi Padovese, a Catholic Bishop and Apostolic Vicar for Anatolia, was killed on 3 June 2010, being stabbed to death at his home in south-eastern Turkey by his driver.

Mr. Daniel Gabriel, the SUA Human Rights and UN NGO Director, states that “this is not an isolated incident. Time and time again the Aramean (Syriac) population in Turkey is terrorized. There are clear inherent and systemic issues with the Turkish justice system and action must taken quickly to alleviate the fear that the Aramean population continue to live through. The Turkish government and its people are standing by idly while danger and insecurity envelopes their everyday lives. Turkey claims to be a tolerant and democratic state, but it seems this is nothing more than rhetoric.”

Mr. Johny Messo, President of the SUA, believes that “such developments point to ‘a silent genocide’. We are now witnessing the final phase of Turkey’s ethnic cleansing of its indigenous peoples. The Armenians, Greeks and Arameans (Syriacs) are not only victims from the past, but even in the present. We continually hope and pray for a new page to be turned in and by Turkey, especially in light of a push for its long-yearned EU Membership. Instead, the reality on the ground increasingly makes us believe that this is blind optimism, since these premeditated acts of terror seek to instil even more fear and insecurity in the Aramean people in as well as outside of Turkey – all with the objective of having the native populations abandon their ancient homeland so that a new local history and future destiny effectively can be written.”

The SUA calls upon the general public, media outlets and all those concerned with protecting human rights, to continue in their drive to protect the Aramean (Syriac) people. The increase in terrorization of Arameans in Turkey is evident (see most recently http://www.sua-ngo.org/?p=media&bb=28). In a quite decimated community, there are now currently less than 2,500 Aramean souls in the southeast of Turkey and no more than 25,000 in total dispersed through the whole of the Turkish country.



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