Mystery shrouds fate of kidnapped elderly Christian husband and wife

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Their son, a Chaldean priest in Istanbul, is deeply concerned. He cares for over 7,000 refugees. The last contact dates back to January 7. Neighbors did not report the disappearance for fear of retaliation. A Kurdish activist, who has been in prison and ill for 28 years, commits suicide in protest against abuses and human rights repressions.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – “We only heard about the disappearance of my parents when my relatives and I […] arrived at the village on January 12th” and since then there has been no news. “The last time my brother spoke to them was January 7.”

The disappearance of two elderly Christian spouses in south-east Turkey remains shrouded in mystery, with no news from them for almost two weeks, as confirmed by the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, by one of their sons, the priest Fr. Adday Remzi Diril of the Chaldean Church in Istanbul.

“A neighbor in the village – he adds – at first did not tell us that my parents had been kidnapped, out of fear of retaliation”, but later confirmed that “they had been taken by armed men”.

Diril is an Assyrian-Chaldean priest in the economic and commercial capital of Turkey and is known within the community for his work and service for over 7,000 Christian refugees across the country.

As the days pass his concern increases for his father and mother, both elderly and sick, from the Assyrian-Chaldean village of Meer (Kovankaya, ??rnak province), in south-east Turkey, taken by “unidentified men”.

Since 11 January, there has no certain information on the fate of 71-year-old Hurmuz Diril and his wife ?imoni (65 years). Their children have been joined by some special teams in their search for their parents, while the winter cold and sub-zero temperatures do not lead to optimism. Local authorities have opened an investigation, but the search operations are difficult and, to date, there are no elements that give hope for a quick solution.

The news of their disappearance came a few days after the arrest, followed by the release, of a Greek Orthodox priest, also in the southeast. Behind the arrest, along with two other Christians from the local community, the accusation of “terrorism” for helping PKK members. Now they are on probation, awaiting trial.

The south-east of Turkey has long been the scene of a clash between Turks and Kurdish independence activists, which has also ended up involving Christians.

“Our village – remembers Fr. Diril – was evacuated for the first time in 1989, during the war between the PKK and the Turkish army. There were 80 houses at that time. In 1992 four families returned, in 1994 the area was evacuated again. Most of the inhabitants fled to Europe. Since 2010 we have resumed visits to the village “and his parents were the first to want to rebuild it, resisting pressure and threats.

“At the moment – concludes the priest – we suspect everyone. We have no specific information. “

Meanwhile, the suicide of another political activist has taken place in Turkish prisons. 47-year-old Nurcan Bakir, who has been in prison and sick for 28 years, killed herself in a cell to protest the repression in Turkish prisons and denounce unworthy conditions. Nurcan had been transferred from Gezbe Women’s Prison to Burhaniye Special Prison, near Mardin, in retaliation for participating in the hunger strike last year in protest against total isolation from Kurdish leader Ocalan.

Her release was still two years away; the woman had gone to the European Court of Justice for human rights to be released for health reasons. In her last contact with family members, the previous day, she said he did not want to “keep silent in the face of repression”, but above all to remember “her children murdered by the regime every night in her dreams”.