TURKEY: Foundation of Syriac Catholic Mor Ephrem Monastery in danger of damage by car park construction

MARDIN, Turkey (@gazetesabro) – Construction work for the construction of a multi-storey parking building on site, is endangering the foundations of the Syriac Catholic Mor Ephrem Monastery in Mardin. A damaged foundation puts the 19th century monastery in serious danger of collapse. The Syriac Mor Ephrem Monastery has monument status (1st degree).

The monastery is located in Mardin’s Diyarbakırkapı district. It is known from inscriptions inside, that the religious site was built during the patriarchate of Patriarch Mor Cercis Şelhet, and consecrated in 1884 by Metropolitan Mor Jacob Matay Ahmardakno.

There is a large church with a big courtyard in the southern part of the monastery complex, similar to the one of the Dayr al-Zafaran Monastery. The monastery was in use between 1884 and 1933 after which the monastery and associated church were used as military hospital for 12 years. After that date, the religious site was no longer used. The monastery was confiscated by the Turkish state in 1969 under the “Yeşil Saha” (“Green Field”) decree.

Turkey has a long and notorious record in neglecting, appropriating, and converting centuries-old religious property of its indigenous peoples, many of whom have become minorities. The way a country respects its monuments and historical heritage, especially of its indigenous minorities, demonstrates its democratic evolution.

Thousands of churches, cemeteries, monasteries, and associated lands, including lands belonging to the Mor Gabriel Monastery in Tur Abdin (dating back to 397 AD), have been appropriated, converted to mosques, destroyed, handed over to the Diyanet religious government authority, or simply put up for sale.

In the last few months alone, 3 churches were put for sale in Turkey, 2 were converted to mosques, 1 church was destroyed and, under the claim that there was gold and treasure to be found in churches previously converted to mosque, 7 legal excavations have been carried out. On January 14 of this year, an Armenian Church in Bursa was put up for sale on the real estate website “Sahibiden.com”.

If the construction around the Syriac Catholic Mor Ephrem Monastery complex continues, it will face serious danger of collapse.

Also read: Zafaran Monastery calls for Turkish state to act and have historical Mor Yuhanon Church in Mardin opened for worship