The Persecution of Christian Communities of Nestorians and syrian orthodox of South East Turkey.
A-NESTORIANS. This race lives in the Hakkari province near the border of Turkey with Iran and Iraq. They are considered descendants of ancient Assyrians. They are christian monophysites (Nestorians). In the years 1915-1918 they allied with the armenians and placed their hopes of independence on the Russians. In 1918 the nestorian patriarch was mtirdered. In order to avoid persecutions and massacres by the Turks, many Nestorians fled to Iraq. In 1920, the Nestorians were organised and armed by the British to form the so-called assyrian troops, who tried to reconquer their motherland, but failed.
In 1932, the british mandate of Iraq came to an end. The nestorian community had difficulties with the Iraqui government and were forced to flee Iraq and go to Syria, Lebanon (where they live near the city of ZALEH) Cyprus and the United States. At present, a small number of Nestorians live in S.E. Turkey, where they have almost no human rights at all. B-SYRIAN-ORTHODOX. In S.E. Turkey, north of the syrian-turkish border, in the region of the towns of Mardin and Midyat lived many centuries ago, thousands of people belonging to the semitic race, speaking ancient syrian (Aramaic) which was spokenin Palestine on the time when Christ was born, members of the monophysite church of the Jacobites (from the bishop Jacob Baradai). These people claim to descend from Asour and Aram, children of Sim, and that their ascendants belonged to the early christians. These are the geographic, political, ethnological and religious characteristics of the so-called syrian-orthodox.
After undergoing the Byzantine, Arab, Latin rule (of the Crusaders) and a period of semiindependence, the syrian-orthodox were under the Ottoman Empire, in the l6th century. Because of religious difference, they had self-government with their own laws, courts of justice, and political (clerical ) authority.
After the Ottoman Empire was dissolved, they were not assigned to Syria, as should have been the case, since, being of Semitic origin, they are related to the Arab-Syrians. Instead, they remained within the Turkish border. After Ataturk’s westernisation and his attempt to turn the state into a turkish state, their self-government was abolished and persecutions began.
Some years ago, they had been fiercely persecuted because Turkish hatred, which in 1915 slaughtered the Armenians, did not always make distinction between the christians of Anatolia. Thus, because of this <<mistake>> tens of thousands of Syrian Orthodox were slaughtered at the same time with the armenians, as an extension of the armenian genocide.
Today in Mardin-Midyat, live approximately 30.000 Syrian Orthodox, though 20 years ago, there lived 100.000 and 70 years ago, 200.000.
Until 1978, there were 50 churches and 10 monasteries, most of which have ancient gospels in manuscript.
The most important of these is the Mar Gabriel, where is the seat of a bishop, and where the ancient Syrian language is taught, and the ancient art of manuscript is practised. In the Mar Yakoub monastery there is an imposing church if the 5th century and around it churches of the 3rd and 4th centuries, carved in the rock. The Deir UI Zafaran monastery once had 100 monks and was the seat of the syrian-orthodox patriarch, who in 1954 was established in Damascus. In this monastery was taught the ancient syrian language. In 1978, the turkish ministry of education decreed this teaching illegal and sent away the teachers in order to obtain the turcification of this minority.
At present, especially since 1974, there are continuously organised suppressions of the Syrian-Orthodox minority. These suppressions are manifested with deliberate actions, such as attacks, kidnappings, murders burglaries, destruction of vineyards, and crops, thefts, forced weddings accompanied by forced acceptance of Islam. All these persecutions have forced many Syrian-Orthodox to emigrate. These persecutions are known and approved b the turkish authorities in violation of the articles 37-45 of the Treaty of Lausanne, which stipulate the protection of minorities and the non-distinction among turkish civilians, concerning their civil rights.
More distinctly, the provisions of the articles a) 38 § 1, b) 38 § 2, c) 39 § 3, d) 40 and e) 42 § 5 of the Treaty of Lausanne, stipulate that the turkish government undertakes the obligation to provide respectively :
- Total protection of life and freedom,
- the possibility to exerce in freedom any faith, or dogma
- equal civilian rights to every turkish citizen irrespectively of difference of religion
- equal rights for the installation of philanthropic, social institutions and schools for education and
- protection of churches, synagogues cemeteries and other religious institutions of the minorities.
None of all these stipulations and obligations that Turkey has undertaken under the Treaty of Lausanne have been respected by any turkish government (democratic or fascist) of any political colour. The minorities in Turkey have no human rights.
A very interesting research conducted by a Committee of the World Council of Churches (Avenue d Anderghem 23, Bruxelles) in 1979 reveals that no obligation is being kept by the turkish government. The guarantor Powers of the Treaty of Lausanne. i.e. Britain France, Italy and Japan, are thus obliged, according to article 44 § 2, to attract the attention to these violations that take place and to ask the turkish government to change its attitude, and respect human rights and its signature on the Treaty. Otherwise, if the Treaty of Lausanne is abolished, the Treaty of Sevres must be applied.