On Tuesday, 27 January 2015, the WCA met with Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Bülent Arınç, at the United Nations Office in Geneva immediately after the Universal Periodic Review of Turkey by the UN Member States, which takes place every four years. On behalf of the six-headed WCA Delegation, Mr. Johny Messo (WCA President) and Mr. Melki Toprak (Chairman Federation of Arameans in Switzerland) presented this important document to him and his high-level delegation.
What do the Aramean (Syriac) People of Turkey want?
Turkey Universal Periodic Review 2014
United Nations Office in Geneva
27 January 2015
On behalf of the Aramean people, the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”) welcomes the distinguished Delegation of Turkey to the United Nations Office in Geneva. As the indigenous people of Southeast Turkey, we first and foremost request Turkey to renew its Constitution and develop a comprehensive and all‐inclusive policy on minorities in compliance with international treaties, conventions and standards. We also would like to bring to Turkey’s immediate attention the following problems, recommendations and opportunities.
RECOMMENDATIONS: WE ASK TURKEY TO
- Officially recognize the Arameans as a ‘minority’, in line with the Lausanne Treaty and the existing international treaties on minority rights that are especially guaranteed by the UN;
- Officially recognize the Arameans as ‘indigenous people’ of Southeast Turkey, in keeping with the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples signed by Turkey in 2007 and Resolution 1704 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe;
- End the delays of legal cases that ancient monasteries, villages and proprietors are facing, as noted by the European Court of Human Rights Annual Reports;
- Stop the illegal expropriation of huge amounts of land that historically and legally belongs to the Aramean people, as affirmed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe;
- Accept its responsibility in restoring, safeguarding, developing and promoting the endangered Aramaic cultural heritage in Southeast Turkey;
- Take historic steps in funding schools that teach Aramaic in the Aramaic language, train teachers of this language and prepare textbooks and materials that will be used at such schools;
- Assist and sponsor the Aramean Diaspora that originates from Turkey, in effectively preserving the threatened Aramaic language, culture and identity;
- To invest structurally in its south-eastern region, particularly in improving the security, infrastructure, job employment and facilities for attractive life circumstances in the area;
- Ensure that the Tur-Abdin region in Southeast Turkey continues to be populated by its original inhabitants and that measures are taken to increase the current Aramean population of 3,000 souls who are struggling for survival and a brighter future in Tur-Abdin;
- Offer a sincere explanation and a solution for the loss of more than 500,000 innocent Arameans in its south-eastern territory between 1895 and 1923, which experts qualify as a ‘genocide’.
GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS OR OPPORTUNITIES
The WCA has five additional recommendations for Turkey which, if implemented, will improve the situation in our homeland and the dialogue between the Turkish Government and the Aramean people. There are indeed many opportunities which we should jointly pursue and work on together.
We have excluded from this online document our five unique ideas and proposals,
which we plan to implement and realize in 2015-2016.
If the Turkish Government has the political will to actually and constructively work with the Arameans in order to turn ongoing problems into solutions and opportunities, the WCA is assured that we will improve the situation of the Aramean people and secure a bright future for them in their homeland. It boils down to Turkey’s willingness to recognize and appreciate our existence, in addition to equal rights that are constitutionally guaranteed and implemented.
Turkey receives recommendations concerning its native Aramean people from the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs)
f.l.t.r. Mr. Johny Messo, President World Council of Arameans (Syriacs), Mr. Bülent Arınç, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey,
Mr. Melki Toprak, Chairman of the federation of Arameans in Switzerland.