Excavation for parking garage construction on Syriac monastery premises in Mardin

Historical places belonging to minorities are faced with "destruction policies," says HDP deputy Garo Paylan.

This article was originally published by BIANET English on 1 April 2021. The original can be found here.

İstanbul – BIA News Desk – The municipality of the southeastern Mardin province is carrying out excavation work on the premises of a monastery belonging to the Mardin Syriac Catholic Church, according to reports.

Mor Efrem Monastery has a first-degree historical monument status and the excavation work would put it in danger of collapse, says a report by Gazete Sabro, a monthly newspaper in Syriac language.

The İstanbul Syriac Catholic Foundation echoed the same concern in a Twitter post.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Garo Paylan submitted a parliamentary question regarding the issue to Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy.

“Don’t you know that the multi-story car park being built on the area usurped by Mor Efrem Monastery on the pretext of ‘green field’ poses a threat to the existence of the monastery?” the MP asked.

The construction work is carried by the Mardin Metropolitan Municipality, which had been led by the HDP until August 2019, when the Ministry of Interior replaced Mayor Ahmet Türk with a “trustee” on the grounds of a “terrorism-related” case against him.

“The destruction policy”

“Why don’t you say ‘stop’ to the policy of destruction against historical places, including churches, monasteries and cemeteries, belonging to ancient cultures such as the Armenian, Syriac, Rum in the Anatolian region?” Paylan also asked the minister.

Over the past year, similar construction works have been carried out in historical areas belonging to the minorities in the country.

Located in Mardin’s Diyarbakırkapı Neighborhood, the monastery was in use between 1884 and 1933. It had been used as a military hospital for 12 years after that date and has been abandoned since then.