Arameans call for reversal of place names

The Syriac Universal Alliance (SUA), an umbrella organization for Aramean federations, appealed to Minister of Interior Beşir Atalay on Monday for the “reversal of the Turkification of ancient Aramaic place names” and for Arameans to be given the right to replace their Turkish surnames with their original Aramaic family names.
In a written letter, the SUA noted that Atalay had said last week that, although it is not on the agenda of the government at the moment, if there were local demands for returning the original names of villages and towns in Turkey, they would be considered.

“With great enthusiasm, we have welcomed your bold statements,” the letter said, providing information and examples of places in Turkey that once had Aramaic names, including Diyarbakır, which the letter claimed was called Amid.

The letter also emphasized that Arameans were not able to enjoy the rights and freedoms that should be given to minorities under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.

“For example, in theory the Arameans should have been given ‘an equal right to establish, manage and control, at their own expense, any charitable, religious and social institutions, any schools or other establishments for instruction and education, with the right to use their own language and to exercise their own religion freely therein.’ In practice, however, Aramean teachers were imprisoned for teaching Aramaic. In more recent times, state officials even attempted to permanently close down the Christian monasteries of Kurkmo/Zafaran in Mardin [1978] and Mor Gabriel in Midyat [1997] for teaching Aramaic,” the letter said.