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Author Topic: Attempts by Turkish authorities to confiscate Mor Gabriel Monastery  (Read 9303 times) Average Rating: 0
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Salpy
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« Reply #45 on: June 29, 2012, 12:00:11 PM »

Quote
Turkish Court Takes Monastery's Land, Declares Assyrians 'Occupiers'

(AINA) -- The final decision of the [Turkish] Supreme Court of Cassation in the legal case of St. Gabriel, ordering it to transfer the lands which the monastery has owned for 14 centuries to the State Treasury marks a major legal scandal. Cynically, it was the same institution which in 1974 ruled against the [non-Muslim] minority foundations in Turkey and has played an important role in intensifying minority problems. The latest ruling, in which the State is designated as the 'land owner' and the 'other' (being St.Gabriel) as the 'occupier' proves that not much has changed in Turkey's policy towards minorities. The court decision sheds light on an important parameter of the process that has been labeled as "democratization."

http://www.aina.org/news/20120629005252.htm

Does anyone know if the decision they are talking about is a final decision by the courts?
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« Reply #46 on: July 11, 2012, 12:02:00 PM »

http://www.aina.org/news/20120710193603.htm

Quote
Some 300 individuals, including writers, academics and artists, have signed a petition to protest a verdict by the Supreme Court of Appeals to hand over the historical Syriac Christian Mor Gabriel Monastery in the southeastern province of Mardin to the treasury.

Click here for complete coverage of the St. Gabriel Monastery case.

Established in 397 A.D., the Mor Gabriel Monastery bears exceptional significance for Syriacs, as it stands on par with Muslims' "Al Aqsa Mosque" for the Syriac community, trains half of all their clergy and has enabled the survival of the Syriac language, according to Tuma Özdemir, the head of the Mesopotamia Culture Association.

Prof. Cengiz Aktar, Tuma Özdemir and Tuma Çelik, the owner of the Mardin-based Syriac journal Sabro, came together in Istanbul's Cezayir Meeting Hall to expound on the petition campaign entitled "Turkey is the Syriacs' Homeland, and the Mor Gabriel Monastery is not an Occupier."
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« Reply #47 on: July 11, 2012, 12:03:19 PM »

Here is a good archive of articles about the Mor Gabriel Monastery case:

http://www.aina.org/releases/20090120141229.htm
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« Reply #48 on: July 11, 2012, 12:11:54 PM »

looks like they took it.
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« Reply #49 on: July 11, 2012, 02:03:37 PM »

Will Monks still be allowed to inhabit the Monastery?
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« Reply #50 on: July 12, 2012, 08:20:38 PM »

From another article:

Quote
...

The case (which was the subject of a more extensive 2009 article [8] in the Wall Street Journal) has caught the attention of the European Union, which has expressed [9] "serious concern" about the recent court ruling. For human rights activists, the fact that the treasury pursued this case so vigorously is being seen as a worrying indication that the Turkish state could be reverting to some bad habits regarding its treatment of non-Muslims, particularly when it comes to property rights. Writes [10] human rights lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz in Today's Zaman:

When the Treasury appealed against the decision by the court of first instance, the first shocking decision came from the Supreme Court of Appeals, which says the monastery has no document proving its ownership of the land. The monastery this time requested a "decision correction" from the Supreme Court of Appeals and this time included all the documents on which the court of first instance based its decision. Nothing, however, has changed; the Supreme Court of Appeals declared again that the Treasury is the rightful owner of these lands.

This is exactly the same Supreme Court of Appeals which deprived non-Muslim foundations of all their properties before. Seeing non-Muslim citizens as "indigenous foreigners," a term once used by it, is embedded in its genes. However, the other part of the story needs quite a serious explanation. How can this government, after developing all these minority-friendly policies, be the architect of such a deeply embarrassing action against our handful of Aramean citizens and their ancient church?
...

http://www.aina.org/news/20120712190845.htm

"Indigenous foreigners?" What?  That sounds like the kind of phrase the Turks would use.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 08:38:54 PM by Salpy » Logged

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« Reply #51 on: July 12, 2012, 08:31:42 PM »

And from another article:

Quote
ANKARA -- The Mongolians failed to destroy it 700 years ago despite the massacre of 40 friars and 400 Christians. Yet the existence of the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world, the fifth century Mor Gabriel Monastery in the Tur Abdin plane (the mountain of God's servants) near the Turkish-Syrian border, is at risk after a ruling by Turkey's highest appeals court in Ankara.

...

The monastery's reputation 1500 years ago was such that Roman Emperors Arcadius, Theodosius and Onorio built new buildings around it and enriched it with art and mosaics. But in the past 150 years Mor Gabriel has gone through a decline after the massacres of Christians by nationalists at the end of the 19th century - 3,000 Christians were burnt to death in Edessa's Cathedral in 1895 - and clashes between Turks and Kurds in the area during World War I.

In the mid 1960s the community in Tur Abdin numbered 130,000.

Today only 3,500 people are left and the 'second Jerusalem' is in danger. The heads of the three neighbouring Muslim villages, Kurds with the Belebi tribe, filed a lawsuit against the monastery years ago with the support of an MP member of the Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

...


http://www.aina.org/news/20120712191041.htm

Read the whole article.  Among other things, it states that the lawsuit includes the claim that the sanctuary was built over a mosque, notwithstanding the fact that it was founded almost 200 years before Mohammed was even born.  

They may appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.  Let's hope they do, and continue to pray for them.
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« Reply #52 on: July 12, 2012, 08:35:41 PM »

Will Monks still be allowed to inhabit the Monastery?

According to the article I just linked above, there are only a handful of monks and nuns left there.  I can't imagine the Turks allowing them to stay, but perhaps if enough of a fuss is raised over in Europe, they will.  Perhaps dhinuus has more information on this.

Lord have mercy!
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 09:15:47 PM by Salpy » Logged

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« Reply #53 on: July 16, 2012, 03:56:38 PM »

Column by a Turk on this issue: http://www.todayszaman.com/columnistDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=286349

Quote
How was a monastery robbed in Turkey?

When there is no deep, profound change in his neurosis, a neurotic person repeats his old habits, no matter how much he has changed on the surface. Well, Turkey has changed quite dramatically and this government has made a lot of reforms, but old habits have not changed fundamentally and irreversibly.
Look at what is going on in the Mor Gabriel Monastery case. This monastery has existed since before we Turks arrived in Anatolia. It is a 1,600-year-old, ancient institution. Today, our Treasury claims that the lands of the monastery belong to it. And we got to this point through very well-known legal tricks.

First, the villagers who live in the neighboring villages brought legal cases against the monastery from 2008 onwards. They claimed that quite significant portions of the land were actually theirs and the monastery was illegally occupying them. I know from my experience very well that if some “citizens” bring an organized action against non-Muslims in Turkey, it is almost certain that the state somehow has a hand in it. There must have been some dark circles operating behind the curtains to motivate the villagers to take action against the monastery. In this regard, I do not think it is surprising that these cases and the return of the Arameans from abroad to their homeland somehow coincided. The legal action was a kind of welcome home present for the Arameans.

Well, after seeing all the changes that have taken place in Turkey, we were expecting that the government would intervene in this situation and would look into who was actually behind these legal cases which suddenly popped up. What happened instead was mind-boggling. The Treasury joined the villagers in this intimidation and attack campaign. The Treasury claimed that these lands belonged to it. The Treasury is a body that operates under the strict orders of the government. So there is no room to argue that this institution took all this legal action on its own initiative. Even if it did at the beginning, it was not possible for it to pursue these cases so far and to such an extent without having the consent of the government after all the criticism directed at these cases.

I do not want to bore you with the legal details but it is necessary to quote a few parts to understand what is really going on in these cases. The court of first instance rejected the citizens’ claims, drawing attention to these details: Yes, it was true that the land was not registered in the name of the monastery at the Land Registry. However, two documents prove that the monastery was the legal owner. The first document was the so-called 1936 declaration, which was given to the Directorate General for Foundations (VGM) by the monastery in 1936 in compliance with an order that year for all non-Muslim foundations. We see in this declaration that these lands belonged to the monastery. The second group of documents is the tax records of the monastery. All these documents show that the monastery was the owner of these lands and paid regular taxes for them.

When the Treasury appealed against the decision by the court of first instance, the first shocking decision came from the Supreme Court of Appeals, which says the monastery has no document proving its ownership of the land. The monastery this time requested a “decision correction” from the Supreme Court of Appeals and this time included all the documents on which the court of first instance based its decision. Nothing, however, has changed; the Supreme Court of Appeals declared again that the Treasury is the rightful owner of these lands.

This is exactly the same Supreme Court of Appeals which deprived non-Muslim foundations of all their properties before. Seeing non-Muslim citizens as “indigenous foreigners,” a term once used by it, is embedded in its genes. However, the other part of the story needs quite a serious explanation. How can this government, after developing all these minority-friendly policies, be the architect of such a deeply embarrassing action against our handful of Aramean citizens and their ancient church? Well, my answer was in the first sentence, and if there are others, I am very much willing to listen to them.
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« Reply #54 on: November 17, 2012, 09:54:57 PM »

"An outpost of Aramaic speakers" From the Nov 3rd 2012 edition of the Economist

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21565655-battle-mor-gabriel-outpost-aramaic-speakers
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« Reply #55 on: November 28, 2012, 01:48:34 AM »

The latest:

Quote
The European Union has reacted to the latest court verdict against the Mor Gabriel Monastery stating that it is seriously concerned about the developments.

Click here for complete coverage of the St. Gabriel Monastery case.

The Supreme Court of Appeals has ruled that the Aramean (Syriac) Orthodox monastery is occupying state land, even though monastery officials have been paying taxes on it for decades.


http://www.aina.org/news/20121127195024.htm
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« Reply #56 on: February 20, 2013, 01:58:23 AM »

President Gül meets Syriac Church leader
Source : Hurriyet Daily News
President Abdullah Gül welcomed Patriarchal Vicar of the Syriac Orthodox Church Mor Filiksinos Yusuf Çetin on Feb. 18 along with an accompanying delegation in Ankara.

Sait Susin, president of the Meryem Ana Church Foundation, who was among the delegation, told the Hürriyet Daily News that it was a “positive meeting,” and that the Mor Gabriel Monastery was among the main issues spoken about in the meeting.

We spoke about Mor Gabriel and other areas that were seen ‘occupied’ in Turabidin [around the southeastern province of Mardin and Midyat],” Susin said, referring to the monastery, an area that was given to the treasury despite several appeals from the Syriac Church.

“The president’s approach to our demands was very positive,” Susin acknowledged. “He told us those issues were gradually being solved with steps of democratization.”

Susin added that they addressed their concerns about “negative remarks” on Syriacs in 10th-grade school books.

Turkey’s EU Minister Egemen Bağış also attended the meeting, which was closed to the press.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 02:00:15 AM by dhinuus » Logged

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« Reply #57 on: October 01, 2013, 11:34:07 AM »

UPDATE
Source: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/syriacs-to-regain-mor-gabriels-land-no-move-on-halki-seminary-in-democratization-package.aspx?pageID=238&nID=55408&NewsCatID=339

Syriacs to regain Mor Gabriel’s land, no move on Halki Seminary in ‘democratization package’

The land of the historic Mor Gabriel Monastery will be returned to the Syriac community in Turkey as part of the “democratization package” announced by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today, while the package fell short of meeting the expectations that the Halki Seminary could be reopened.

“The land of the Mor Gabriel Monastery will return to the monastery’s foundation,” Erdoğan promised today, while declaring a wide range of reforms on democracy.

“In fact, our government has shown a great sensitivity in this issue throughout the [Turkish] Republic’s history and has made serious efforts in return for such rights. We have taken sincere steps with regulations we made about the removal of such injustices in 2003, 2008 and 2011 and we received concrete results. We have returned more than 250 [properties], costing more around 2.5 billion Turkish Liras to the original owners,” said Erdoğan. Erdoğan also said that they would continue to return the properties of minorities without occasioning the suffering of others.

Mor Gabriel is a 1,700-year-old monastery located in Mardin’s Midyat district. In 2008, the Forestry Ministry, the Land Registry Office and the villages of Yayvantepe, Çandarlı and Eğlence sued the monastery for allegedly occupying their fields. The court recognized the monastery as an “occupier,” after which the case was brought to the ECHR.

The package, announced by Erdoğan today, however, lacked any development about the reopening of the Halki Greek Orthodox seminary on Istanbul’s Heyebeliada Island, which has been an ongoing point of debate for years.

The reopening of the school has been postponed due to a lack of clarity over its status, as well as the principle of reciprocity with Greece, which has refused to allow Turkish minorities to elect their own religious officials.

On Sept. 12, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said that they would take the necessary steps for the reopening of the Halki Seminary “when certain local and international conditions are constituted.” He also gave signals of solving the Mor Gabriel Monastery issue in the same speech. “We have to apply the law on the matter but an alternative formula could resolve the problem [of Mor Gabriel monastery],” Arınç said.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2013, 11:34:30 AM by dhinuus » Logged

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« Reply #58 on: October 01, 2013, 11:37:41 AM »

Glory to God!

Teshbukhto L'Aloho!
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« Reply #59 on: March 19, 2014, 12:07:23 PM »

UPDATE

Turkey Returns Only Less Than Half of Syrian Monastery’s Land it Seized

The returned property is less than half of the land the monastery has owned since 1935. The monastery, in the southeastern province of Mardin, was built in 397 and is considered a holy place by Syriac Orthodox in Turkey and the diaspora.

The property first was contested in 2008 when the Turkish Forestry Ministry, the Land Registry Cadaster Office and three surrounding villages sued the monastery for allegedly “occupying” their land.

The heated legal battles ended in June 2012 when the Turkish supreme court of appeals upheld a decision to give substantial parts of the monastery to the Turkish Treasury and the Ministry of Forestry.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan announced in September that the government would return the land to the Syriac Orthodox Church, its historic owner as part of the government’s “democratization package”, according to the statement issued by the Turkish Ministry of EU Affairs. The decision was approved by the state agency for foundations.

In February 2014, the head of the Mor Gabriel Monastery, received the property deeds to 12 plots of land  (244,000 square metres, or 60 acres). However, the government did not return the remaining 18 plots of land (320,000 square meters, or 79 acres).  Of this 79 acres in dispute , about 67 acres,  are now in the hands of the Turkish Forestry Ministry. The rest remains seized by the Turkish treasury. This is despite the Turkish prime minister’s declaration that all the land would be returned.

Two years ago, the monastery’s foundation took its case to the European Court of Human Rights, in Strassburg, France, which attracted international attention and became a topic in Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. In the European Commission’s 2013 Turkey Progress report, it noted that the government’s abeyance on the issue was a cause for concern and called on Turkey to “ensure full respect for all property rights, including those of non-Muslim religious communities.”

Caught in between the violence between ethnic Turks and Kurds, many of the Syriacs had to leave Turabdin in the last 50 years. There are now only 2,500 Syriac Orthodox in Turabdin, where the monastery is located, compared to about 50,000 in 1950, according to Reuters.

The sectarian violence in neighboring Syria has led some of Syriac Orthodox to flee to Turkey and many of them have found temporary refuge in Turabdin, where they can practice their religion.  This has caused the Syriac Orthodox population of Turabdin to go up a little in recent years.
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Tags: Monastery Syriac Orthodox persecution Turkish Republic Mor Gabriel Turabdin St. Gabriel liturgical languages Arameans 
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