Stockholm, 7 November 2013
Today, 7 November 2013, Mr. Kenan Anter and Mr. Gabriel Bozyel, respectively the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Syriac Federation of Sweden, met in Stockholm with the Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator, Mr. Egemen Bağış. On behalf of the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) and the Syriac Federation of Sweden, Mr. Anter discussed the Aramean question in Turkey and submitted a letter to Mr. Erdogan. The writing encourages the Turkish Government to continue developing its democratization efforts, and also calls upon the Government to recognize and support the endangered Aramean people in Turkey.
The World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”) and the Syriac Federation of Sweden (SRF) appeal to you on behalf of the endangered Aramean (Syriac; Süryani in Turkish) people, who are indigenous to, but not yet officially recognized and supported by, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
In May 2009, Your Excellency boldly declared that in the past century the non-Muslim minorities have suffered a lot and in many ways in Turkey, stating: “This mindset has seemingly not changed. It has been the same for many years in this country. They have chased members of different ethnicities out of this country. Have we won? This was the result of a fascist mentality.” Today, four years later, one is compelled to review the onground reality with Your Excellency’s comment.
The first major step in burying this attitude of the “old Turkey” with its denialist and assimilation policies was the latest democratization package, which you called a “historic moment for Turkey.” We encourage and support you to continue your reform efforts in shaping the “new Turkey.” We consider the package a first major initiative in preserving the endangered ethno-religious minorities in Turkey. It contains dozens of promising points, although we regret to announce that it also had shortcomings, including (but not limited to) the following important cases:
The Syriac Universal Alliance (SUA), the recognized United Nations NGO representing the Aramean (Syriac) people worldwide, is becoming increasingly alarmed at the anti Christian and anti-Aramean activities taking place lately in the Tur ‘Abdin region in Southeast-Turkey.
In addition to the COVER LETTER BELOW, read the SUA's proposals for amendments (pp. 3-5).
Also read the "SUA Report to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Human Rights Committee, 104th session, 12 - 30 March 2012" as as well as the SUA 2011 Turkey Report submitted to the UN.
Stockholm, 4 November 2013
On Friday, 1 November 2013 the European Parliament's Turkey Rapporteur, Ms. Ria Oomen-Ruijten, and her delegation visited the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Istanbul and Ankara to review the situation of Turkey's native Arameans. Ms. Oomen-Ruijten was in the country to prepare a Motion for a Resolution on Turkey's 2013 Progress Report, which the European Commission published last month. This meeting had been arranged by the WCA, which also sent a letter to the Turkey Rapporteur that included the below recommendations concerning the future presence of the native Arameans in Turkey.
The World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”) refers to the European Commission’s Turkey 2013 Progress Report (“Progress Report”) released on 16 October 2013.
As an NGO in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, we are grateful for this Progress Report. We have carefully reviewed it and commend all efforts dealing with minority rights in Turkey. However, much remains to be done in this respect for Turkey to align its forthcoming Constitution, the implementation of its laws and the promotion of its core values with those of the European community.
In view of your Motion for a Resolution on the Progress Report on Turkey and your visit to our diocese in Istanbul, we are compelled to bring two crucial recommendations to your immediate attention pertinent for the survival of the native Arameans (Syriacs) in Turkey, particularly in the Southeastern part of our country.
Turkey’s President and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Strasbourg on 24-25 January 2011 & Questions on Turkey’s Implementation of Articles 19.6 and 19.7 of the PACE Resolution 1704
We refer to Article 20 of Resolution 1704, adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (“PACE”) on 27 January 2010, which calls upon Turkey to “report back on the progress made on each point in paragraphs 16...and 19 of the present resolution by February 2011.”
The Syriac Universal Alliance (the “SUA”) refers to the European Parliament Meeting to be held in Strasbourg from 18‐21 January 2010. We also refer to the recent Council of Europe report by Mr. Michel Hunault about Freedom of religion and other human rights for non‐Muslim minorities in Turkey and for the Muslim minority in Thrace (Eastern Greece. As you are aware, this report will be discussed on 27 January 2010 in Strasbourg and on which the SUA has also sent a letter to the respective parliamentarians of the Council of Europe.
The Swedish parliament passed on Thursday a historic resolution recognizing the 1915 mass killings of 2,5 million Armenians, Pontian Greeks and Arameans (Syriacs) as genocide. Sweden is the first and only nation that has officially accepted the Aramean genocide.
Dear Mrs. Oomen-Ruijten,
On 6 January 2011, I wrote you in relation to your Draft Motion for a Resolution on Turkey’s 2010 Progress Report (“Draft Motion”). The letter offered a humble proposal of three amendments and four new articles by the Syriac Universal Alliance. They all directly pertain to the endangered yet neglected position of the Aramean (Syriac) people in their ancestral homeland in Southeast Turkey.
Council of Europe – Report on Freedom of religion and other human rights for non-Muslim minorities in Turkey and for the Muslim minority in Eastern Greece
The Syriac Universal Alliance (the “SUA”) refers to the report (Doc. 11860) by Mr. Michel Hunault, Freedom of religion and other human rights for non-Muslim minorities in Turkey and for the Muslim minority in Thrace (Eastern Greece), dated 21 April 2009 (the “Report”). We understand that this Report will be further discussed at the next Council of Europe meeting on 27 January 2010 and we wish to provide you with two (2) Recommendations in relation to the content of the Report.