PRESS RELEASE: SYRIAC MONASTERY LOSES FORESTRY CASE

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Midyat, Turkey, Wednesday 24 June, 2009
Midyat, Turkey – In an as to nis hing verd ict, the S yriac U nivers al Alliance (S U A), a
reco gniz ed NG O at the U nited N atio ns that repres ents the Aram ean (S yriac) peo ple
w o rld wid e, repo rts that the co urt trial held to d ay o n Wed nes d ay, June 24 2009, in M id yat,

http://www.ankawa.com/upload/634/SUA_Press_Release_Saint_Gabriel_Monastery_240609.pdf
T urkey, has res ulted in a lo se o f the “F o restry Cas e” by the S aint (Mor) G abriel M o nas tery.
H o wever, in ano ther puz z ling d ecis io n, the C o urt als o ruled to d ay in favo ur o f the M o nas tery
o n the “T reasury” C as e.
T he M id yat C o urt d ecid ed as fo llo ws :
• T he M o nas tery has lo s t its appeal agains t the earlier d ecis io n o f the F o res try
Departm ent which claim ed o wnership o ver s o m e 3 4 Hectares o f Land fro m the
M o nas tery (“F o restry Cas e”). T he C o urt d ecid ed that the F o res try Departm ent, o n
behalf o f the T urkis h State G o vernm ent, o w ns the land and no w has co m plete
d is cretio n o ver what it w ill d o withthe land ;
• T he case invo lving the H ead o f the R eligio us F o und atio n o f the M o nas tery, M r
Kuryako s E rgü n, as a d efend ant, fo r the “intentio nal vio latio n o f the F o res try law ”, has
been po s tpo ned to 30 Septem ber, 2 0 0 9 ; and
• T he T urkis h State T reas ury D epartm ent has lo s t its cas e agains t the M o nas tery
claim ing the 1 2 Parcels o f land ins id e and o uts id e the w all o f the M o nas tery,
am o unting to s o m e 24 Hectares o f Land .
In the F o res try Cas e, the Jud ge pro claim ed that the S tate co ns id ers the land as a “fo res t”
and therefo re by d efinitio n it has beco m e “F o restry” land o wned by the S tate. T he res ult o f
the cas e has d eeply tro ubled the M o nas tery, w ith Kuryako s E rgü n s tating: “T hes e are s cary
tim es . We are no t s ure what to d o no w. T he State G o vernm ent can no w break d o w n o ur
pro tective w all and give a s ubs tantial am o unt o f o ur land to third parties to cultivate it. Who
kno w s what is next fo r us . All I kno w is that w e no w live w ith fear and an ins ecure future.”
Daniel G abriel, S U A’s Hum an R ights and N G O D irecto r, expand s o n this : “While w e are
pleas ed that we w o n the T reas ury cas e, w e are equally co ncerned by ho w w e lo s t the
F o restry Cas e. T he co urt ruling s ho ws us ho w the T urkis h G o vernm ent co ntinues to m is treat
its m ino rity gro ups . I und ers tand that w e w ill appeal this d ecis io n to the C o urt o f Appeal in
Ankara. T his is jus t a firs t s tep. R ecent E uro pean C o urt o f Hum an R ights d ecis io ns have
s ho wn us that the E U w ill no t to lerate s uch d is crim inato ry d ecis io ns by the T urkis h State. O n
s everal o ccas io ns , the E uro pean U nio n, which T urkey s eeks to jo in, has called o n the
G o vernm ent to return s eiz ed pro perties to m ino rities and expand their religio us and cultural
freed o m s . T his is no d ifferent.”
2
Jo hny M es s o , Pres id ent o f the S U A, expres s ed his co ncerns s tating: “With the lo s s o f this
cas e, w e ques tio n the s incerity o f the T urkis h State when it claim s it intend s to secure the
future o f the ind igeno us Aram ean peo ple in their trad itio nal ho m eland . We s urely canno t and
will no t accept this rem arkable verd ict. B y all peaceful m eans , w e w ill intens ify the pres s ure
o n Ankara, where the final d ecis io ns are taken. I call upo n all po liticians and m ed ia, and in
particular the T urkis h peo ple, to s tand united behind the M o r G abriel M o nas tery and act
acco rd ingly to upho ld jus tice.”
T he SUA again reques ts all m ed ia, hum an rights o rganiz atio ns and po liticians to increas e
their public o utcry o ver the injus tice which is faced by the Aram ean (S yriac) peo ple. T he
victo ry o f the B o und ary and T reas ury Cas es , pro ves that internatio nal pres s ure can affect
o ther cas es .
T he SUA will co ntinue to keep yo u upd ated in relatio n to all events related to thes e trials . If
yo u require any further info rm atio n, pleas e co ntact M r Daniel G abriel (S UA’s Directo r o f
Hum an R ights and NGO) o n +44 7 7 95 602 078 o r o n d aniel.gabriel@sua-ngo .o rg. F o r m o re
info rm atio n, especially o n his to rical m aters , yo u can als o co ntact M r Jo hny M es s o (SUA’s
Pres id ent) o n +3 1 6 1 1 5 3 9 7 7 1 o r o n jo hny.m es s o@sua-ngo .o rg