Syriac Monastery in Turkey Court Proceeding Status (April 2009)

Mor GabrielThe Syriac Universal Alliance (SUA), the acknowledged voice of and the only NGO among the Syriac (or Aramean) people, reports that the court proceedings held today on Wednesday, April 22 2009, in Midyat, Turkey, have once again been postponed.

The trials involving the Monastery relate to the following:

  1. Boundary Lines Case – The first court appeals proceeding has been initiated by the Monastery regarding its boundaries with the villages of Yayvantepe and Eglence and results from the redrafting of the Monastery Boundary Lines by Turkish authorities.
  2. Forestry Land Case 1 – The second court appeals proceeding has also been initiated by the Monastery against the Forestry Department in order to restore its property which is within and outside the outer wall of the Monastery. In dispute in this case is the removal of approximately 276,000 square metres of land from inside the Monastery walls and approximately 60,000 square metres outside the Monastery walls.
  3. State Treasury Land Case – The State Treasury Department recently initiated a fourth court proceeding against the Monastery, stating that there is other land inside and outside the Monastery that it wishes to claim as its own. This relates to about 244,000 square metres of land, which contains many different parcels of land being confiscated by the State Treasury (containing some former vineyards and other fields which by definition do not constitute a “forest”).
  4. Forestry Land Case 2 – This case to be held on 6 May 2009, involves the State making a claim against the Monastery (which also names the Head of the Religious Foundation of the Monastery, Mr Kuryakos Ergün as a defendant), for the intentional violation of the Forestry law. The argument from the State, which is strongly refuted by the Monastery, is that the Monastery built the wall with the intention of violating the Forestry law.

Cases 1, 2 and 3 were heard today in the Midyat Court. The results of the trials were as follows:

  • For the Boundary Lines Case, one of the complainants, being the village of Yayvantepe, did not appear at the trial. The Judge decided that he could not provide a verdict given their absence. In the earlier trial held on 4 March 2009, the Judge stated that he would conduct his own investigation and visit the disputed area. The Judge did so on 7 April 2009 and met with many interested parties about the issue and took relevant testimonies of certain witnesses. The Judge prepared a Report on the boundary lines and issued such Report today to the parties. It contained a claim by some Yayvantepe witnesses that the Monastery land should form part of its Village territories. This was strongly rejected by the Monastery’s Defence Counsel. The Monastery will provide the Court with relevant evidence in the next few weeks refuting this claim. The Judge subsequently adjourned the trial to 6 May 2009.
  • For the Forestry Land Case 1, the Judge decided to postpone the trial because the report of the Forestry Department was not complete and needed more time. The trial was postponed to 6 May 2009.
  • For the State Treasury Land Case, the Judge stated that further investigation was required in this matter and such investigation would be held on 12 May 2009, with a court date on 22 May 2009.

The strategy of the Turkish State to continually postpone the trials has paid off. It has resulted in less and less media attention and focus from parliamentary leaders. The SUA again attended the trials and has become increasingly concerned by the lack of progress of the cases. The SUA has also learnt that there are at least ten (10) other villages in Tur ‘Abdin, in the south-east of Turkey, which have been impacted by the same Forestry, Treasury and Boundary issues as above. The SUA is working with government officials to further investigate and report on the dire situation facing Syriacs in the region.

We continue to request all media outlets, human rights bodies and politicians to maintain and increase their interest and passion on these issues. We have recently seen interest in this matter from US President Barrack Obama after he received a letter from the German Aramean Diaspora on the matter and assigned one of his aides to follow the developments.

Together with the representative Federations of German Armenians, Greeks, Kurds and Alevites, the Federation of the Arameans (Syriacs) in Germany has also organised a public protest on 25 April 2009 in Köln (the last such protest brought no less than 20,000 people to the streets of Berlin); for more information, visit http://www.koordinationsrat.org

The SUA will continue to keep you updated in relation to these trials. I you require any further information, please contact Mr Daniel Gabriel (SUA’s Director of Human Rights and NGO) on  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For more information, especially on historical maters, you can also contact Mr Johny Messo (SUA’s President) on  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .





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