Following the alarming news of the confiscation of 50 Aramean churches and monasteries in the city of Mardin last week, the co-chairs of the Intergroup, Peter van Dalen and Dennis de Jong, have written a letter to the Turkish President, Receyyp Erdogan, urging him to protect the rights of the countries various minorities.
Although Turkey is officially a secular state, and the Turkish constitution provides for freedom of conscience, belief and conviction, the rights of minorities have become increasingly imperilled during the government of Erdogan and his AK Partei.
It was proposed that ownership of the 50 churches and monasteries in Mardin would be transferred to the Diyanet – The Turkish directorate of religious affairs. Although the Diyanet masquerades as an institution that concerns itself with all religious activities, in reality it concentrates only on promoting and protecting Sunni Islam, the majority religion of Turkey.
Whilst the government decided to make a U-turn on the decision to transfer the ownership of the churches, they are still not back in the hands of the Aramean community. The Intergroup has urged President Erdogan to respect his own constitution and the Turkish government’s obligations under international law, and ensure that the properties are returned to their rightful owners, and the rights of those minorities protected.