Syriacs join forces under new group

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Vercihan Ziflio?lu Vercihan Ziflio?lu
This file photo shows a religious ceremony held in the southeastern province of Mardin’s Midyat district, which was home to many Syriacs living in Europe today. Hürriyet photo

Syriac Christian associations in Turkey have joined forces under a newly established federation based in the district of Midyat in the southeastern province of Mardin, the traditional homelands of the ancient community.

“We are a people that pays respect to our churches and Metropolitans, but we want to break out of the definition of a religious congregation and [receive recognition] as a community. We are becoming civilianized,” Evgil Türker, the head of the Syriac Associations Federation’s management board, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Syriacs prefer to resolve their problems with Turkey inside the country itself, rather than discussing them in other countries’ parliaments, he said.

“We also presented a file to the Constitution Commission with regard to our demands. Our contacts with Ankara will continue. On the other hand, we are also going to propound our problems through symposiums, seminaries and panels under the federation’s umbrella and promote Syriac culture,” Evgil added.

Syriac Christians lagged behind in explicating themselves, as the community living in the countryside had been unable to bring their problems to the fore, according to Evgil.

“The second generation educated in Europe now wishes to transfer their knowledge here and bring about solutions,” he said.

Coming back
Evgil also repudiated recent press reports that Syriacs in Europe had begun returning back to Turkey, adding that a mere 50 families had thus far resettled in the country.

“Of course, news about us are not limited to this either; the federation will answer all such [reporting that distorts facts] from the first hand,” he said.

In February 2012, the head of the Syriac Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation, Kuryakos Ergün, met with the Parliament’s constitution-making commission commission and highlighted the need to give Syriacs official minority status similar to that granted by the Lausanne Treaty to Jews, Greeks and Armenians. k