Syriac Catholics go to court for land’s return

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Vercihan Ziflio?lu Vercihan Ziflio?lu
Syriac Catholic community’s Patriarchate complex is seen in the southeastern province of Mardin’s Midyat district in this photo. DAILY NEWS photo

Members of the Syriac Catholic community in Turkey applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Oct. 4 for the return of the Patriarchate’s land in the southeastern province of Mardin, according to a member of the community.

Münir Üçkarde?, a member of the Mardin Syriac Catholics Foundation, said they had applied to the court on Oct. 4 for the return of the Patriarchate’s lands to the foundation, after being unsuccessful with the local jurisdiction, and were seeking to meet with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an over the issue. “Our Patriarchate opened in 1895 was located inside a complex, including church and outbuildings. Some parts of the complex were demolished. In 1981, the council of state approved the confiscation of the complex by the state excluding the church and Patriarchate building. Between the years of 1986 and 1989, the Patriarchate building was turned into a museum and taken from us without informing us,” Üçkarde? told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday adding that they had learnt that they owned only around 10 square meters area out of a total of 1,000 square meters of land after they checked the land registers.

Üçkarde? said they had failed to retake the land through the local jurisdiction. The foundation applied to the court in Mardin to regain the land. However, the court refused trial on the grounds that the statute of limitation of 10 years had passed. The foundation objected to the decision, but the Court of Appeals approved the local court’s decision. The foundation then applied to the Constitutional Court, which did not approve the land titles owned by the foundation, according to Üçkarde?.

He said that they had to pay ticket fees for entering the Patriarchate building after it became a museum. “We believe in the prime minister’s sincerity. We will demand a meeting after the feast of the sacrifice over the issue. We only wish to have our building back,” he added.