Christian communities disappear in Turkey due to reported ‘mass persecution’

Entire Christian communities in the city of Diyarbakir in Turkey have reportedly disappeared due to “mass persecution” at the hands of authorities as the believers’ properties have been included in the government’s expropriation plan which was adopted in March 2016, Gatestone Institute’s study denounces.

Entire neighborhoods have disappeared, reduced to rubble. The Surp Giragos Church in Diyarbakır has escaped the fighting relatively intact structurally… But the Turkish security forces have used it as an army base, desecrating the church, burning some of the pews as firewood, with garbage and smell of urine everywhere,” the report continues.

According to the report, “Armenian, Syriac and Chaldean Christians have not been able to worship in their churches for the last three years.” This is because virtually the entire town and all Christian properties belonging to the indigenous Armenian, Assyrian, Syriac, Chaldean and Protestant communities — was included in an expropriation plan adopted in March 2016 by the Turkish cabinet. Among the Christian properties expropriated are the Armenian Catholic, the Chaldean Mor Petyun and the Armenian Surp Giragos churches.”

Surp Giragos is the largest Armenian church in the Middle East. According to Agos, its bell tower was destroyed by artillery fire during the 1915 Armenian genocide (at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, precursor to the Turkish Republic), because it stood taller than the minaret of a nearby mosque.