MIDYAT, TURKEY — The bright voices of children at play echoed off the ancient walls of Mor Hanonyo last week, breaking centuries of stillness in this 1,600-year-old Syriac Orthodox monastery outside Mardin in southeastern Turkey. Little boys skipped around the monastery courtyard zipped up in quilted winter jackets, while their elders huddled indoors and lamented the violence and mayhem that have forced them to flee their homes in Syria.
Leading Syriac figures say they met with officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Foreign Ministry in an effort to establish a separate camp in Mardin for Syriac citizens who are defecting from Syria.
The European Union has stated that it is "seriously concerned" about a court decision on the Mor Gabriel Monastery in Mardin.
The spokesman for Stefan Füle, the commissioner responsible for the Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy said the commission was concerned both about the verdict and about the fact that the litigation against the monastery had been started by state authorities.
WHEN the Young Turks enlisted Kurdish tribesmen to take part in the mass slaughter of the Armenians in 1915, Muslim clerics spurred on their flocks: those who slew Christians would be blessed with wealth and beautiful girls and their places in heaven assured. Although the deaths of around 1m Ottoman Armenians are well documented, little is known about the tens of thousands of Syriacs, one the world’s oldest Christian communities, who fell with them.
Turkey is home to Syriac Christians, whose followers extend across the Middle East. In the 1990s, many Syriac Christians fled Turkey during years of fighting between the Turkish state and Kurdish rebels. In the last few years, they have been returning. But a series of court cases against the ancient monastery of Mor Gabriel, in southeastern Turkey, has put their return increasingly in doubt.
For 1,600 years, the bell at the Syriac Orthodox Mor Gabriel Monastery has called people to prayer. The ceremonies are conducted in Aramaic, a language spoken at the time of Christ.
GianThe building and region around it have survived invasions by Persians, Arabs, Mongols, Kurds and Turks, going back more than 1,000 years.
A group of Syrian Syriacs have thrown their support behind the struggle against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by forming an agreement with the leading representatives of the Syrian opposition, the Syrian National Council (SNC). In the agreement a democratic Syria is demanded, in which all peoples would have equal rights and could alternately come into power after the al-Assad regime falls.
Twelve Syriac-origin lawmakers in the Swiss Parliament have come together to establish a group that aims to make the voice of Syriacs heard.
The group, named “Schweiz Suryoye” (Switzerland Syriacs) will aim to bring the problems of the Syriacs in Turkey and the Middle East to the agenda, Rima Tüzün, the head of foreign affairs at the Brussels-based European Syriac Union told the Hürriyet Daily News. “The main objective of the group is to distribute information about the cultural, communal and social situation of the Syriacs in their native countries [Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Lebanon],” said Tüzün. “This is the first time MPs have come together politically in a group for our people and therefore this group is a historic step for us,” said Tüzün. “The Syriacs are not yet united and do not have a powerful voice ... The Syriacs have a chance to regain their rights,” he added.
A recently established council bringing together Syria’s Christian minority groups in Syria has no fear of a possible Muslim Brotherhood rule in the country, according to a prominent member.
“We want to live as equal citizens and with equal rights all over the Middle East, especially in Syria,” Bassam Ishak, leader of the Damascus-based Liberal Party, told the Hürriyet Daily News on behalf of the council after announcing the establishment of the “Syrian Syriac National Council” on Sept. 8.
It has been more than a year and half for the start of the Syrian revolution that seeks better future for us and for our children. Killings, displacement, oppression and torture. The process of assassination has not stopped from killing our children and attacking our villages. The criminal gang did not provide a barbaric way of killing and only used, arrests, raids, shelling and bullets, killing and violations, displacement and mortar hatred destroy houses, cities, streets and fields. The ruling gang aircraft fired lava death and destruction. The regime is trying to destroy the pure image the Syrian revolution to divide the components of the Syrian people. The regime is trying to destroy our dream in the presence of any international support.
MOSUL (AFP) - The body of a kidnapped Chaldean Catholic archbishop was found in northern Iraq on Thursday, sparking outrage from Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other world leaders and expression of sadness from Pope Benedict XVI.