Garo Paylan sends inquiry to Davutoglu about seizure of Armenian Church

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Siranush Ghazanchyan
Asbarez – Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), has presented an inquiry to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu regarding the cabinet decision to expropriate a number of areas and structures in Diyarbakir (Dikranagerd), among them the Surp Giragos Armenian Church.

In his inquiry, which he also posted on his Facebook page, Paylan asked Davutoglu about the reason of “immediate expropriation” of the total 6,300 areas, what legislations are to be made under the act, and how the rights of the citizens living in Sur will be protected.

In addition, the inquiry requests to clarify whether the expropriation decision affects the Christian, the Assyrian and Chaldean churches. At the same time it is requested to clarify by what standards and laws the “under risk” areas were selected.

While clashes and curfews continue in Diyarbakir, the cabinet took an urgent expropriation decision. St. Giragos Church, the largest Armenian church in Middle East, is among the places in Sur province of Diyarbakir that are expropriated by the decision of the cabinet. The church was restored and opened to worship in 2011. With the same decision, Assyrian, Chaldean and Protestant churches are also expropriated.

The co-chairperson of the HDP, Figen Yuksekdag, slammed the government decision saying “They want to destroy the living spaces and houses of the people who survived death and the massacres in those places, in Sur, in Silopi [in in the southeastern province of S?rnak] today,” reported the Hurriyed Daily News on Tuesday.

“Where is the law, right and justice in this?” asked Yuksekdag, who also remarked about the injustice of arresting more than 600 residents in the areas during Norooz festivities earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Adnan Ertem, General Director of the Directorate General of Foundations of Turkey, which oversees landmarks in Turkey told the Agos newspaper that the expropriation envisions the preservation of the historic structures around which numerous illegal buildings were constructed.

“This expropriation decision is not about historical structures or civil architecture. On the contrary, this decision is made for making the historical structures more visible by demolishing the unplanned structures around them. After ’80s, unplanned urbanization has been increasing in Sur. We want to eliminate that. This is an authorization which will be exercised only if there is a need to protect the historical structures. Whether a church or a mosque, it doesn’t matter, we want to preserve the historical structures,” rationalized Ertem. “Rest assured. We only want to preserve the historical structures.”

As a results of this vast expropriation order, hundreds of thousands of Sur citizens in Diyarbakir will be driven from their homes, creating a refugee crisis within Turkey’s borders.