Turks, Kurds Threaten Assyrian Monastery in Turkey
Kurdish leaders from the villages of Yayvantepe, Eglence and Candarli, in cooperation with influential members of the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), are continuing their so-called "lawful means" campaign to confiscate the land of the Assyrian monastery of St. Gabriel, founded in 397 A.D. (AINA 9-16-2008).
During the Ottoman Empire the monastery received the status of a Foundation for the Syrian Orthodox Church and is still legally regarded as such. Over the last three decades it has developed into a major religious and community center that attracts tens of thousands visitors from Turkey and abroad. The entire region has benefited from this development, though for some fanatic Kurdish village heads, it seems to be a problem.
As their initial efforts did not materialize and court hearings and trials have been postponed, the Kurdish leaders of the villages increased pressure by harassing the monastery with the following false accusations:
- The monastery has been established illegally while a wall has been built around it
- The Church is doing missionary work among youth
- The teaching in the monastery violates Turkish laws
- National Unity is destroyed
- The church is a historic museum and should be not misused for praying
- The monastery does not pay taxes
Meanwhile, Bishop Samuel Aktas of St. Gabriel has issued a detailed report titled The Imminent Problems Facing the Syriac monastery of Mor Gabriel in Midyat, Turkey, while summarizing what he calls "alarming concerns" the monastery is facing. The report is also replying in detail to the false criminal accusation filed as lawsuits; in fact, the latter are a means to harass the monastery and its inhabitants. […]