Arameans concerned EU draft report does not address problems

The Syriac Universal Alliance (SUA), referring to the Draft Motion for a Resolution on Turkey’s 2011 Progress Report written by Ria Oomen-Ruijten on Dec. 19 of last year, has expressed concerns that the draft motion does not mention the plight of the Arameans in southeast Turkey and therefore does not sufficiently tell the whole story of the events taking place on the ground.
Indicating that the deadline for tabling amendments to the draft motion is Jan. 18, the SUA, a nongovernmental organization that has had special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations since 1999, provided its comments and proposed amendments to the draft motion in a written statement on Monday.

The SUA noted that in the Resolution on Turkey’s 2009 Progress Report, “the European Parliament expressly referred to the problems faced by the Arameans with respect to the illegal land expropriation.”

“With great concern, this has not been reaffirmed in the 2010 Resolution or in the 2011 Draft Motion, despite the hugely deteriorated situation,” the statement said, adding that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is not addressing the illicit appropriation of land and the Arameans’ continued lack of legal status in Turkey.

The SUA proposes amendments to Articles 17, 18 and 22 and new Articles 17a, 18a, 23 and 25 with respect to the Draft Motion for a Resolution on Turkey’s 2011 Progress Report.

One of the recommendations to the EP is to insert an article reiterating its concerns about the difficulties encountered by Arameans with respect to property ownership. The SUA also recommends that the EP call on the Turkish government to ensure that the Saint Gabriel Monastery, founded in A.D. 397, is not deprived of its land and is protected in its entirety and that it “equally expresses concern about the continuation of the unlawful appropriation of significant amounts of land historically and legally belonging to a multitude of ancient Aramean monasteries, churches and proprietors in southeast Turkey.”

Another one of the SUA’s recommendations concerns Article 18. The group demands that it is amended, urging Turkey to rectify and revise the discriminatory and historically incorrect information stated about the Arameans and other minorities.

“Instead, the Turkish State and Education Ministry should act to promote the multicultural and multi-religious aspects of Turkish society with special focus on the indigenous Aramean, Armenian and Greek minorities,” it states.

The SUA notes that “‘Aramean/Aramaic’ is the original self-designation of the Arameans and the equivalent of the Greek name ‘Syrian/Syriac,’ which they adopted since the early fifth century A.D. In order to avoid the recurring confusion with the largely Muslim Arab citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic, they prefer the use of the artificial term ‘Syriacs’ or their ancient self-designation ‘Arameans’ in Western languages.”