Syriacs in Europe demand Turkey stop cutting down trees in Tur Abdin villages

ANKARA / TUR ABDIN, Turkey — Political parties and institutions of the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people in Europe sent a letter of protest to the Turkish Minister of Forests and the Mardin Governor regarding the encroachment on the mountainous forests adjacent to the Syriac villages of Derqube and Beth Kustan in the Tur Abdin region of southeast Turkey.

The letter reads as follows:

“We, representatives of political parties and institutions who drafted this letter, hail from Mardin, but we now live in Europe. We write this complain letter about the discrimination practiced against residents of Derqube and Beth Kustan villages. The Syriac people have been living in these villages for thousands of years. We live in Europe, but we make periodic visits to Tur Abdin, in order to support the ongoing development process in the villages of the region. The Syriac people in these two villages depend for their livelihood on agriculture and raising livestock like the residents of the rest of the villages, but unfortunately the operations of unsolicited cutting down of forest trees surrounding Derqube and Beth Kustan, continue from 5th March so far, without permission of the villagers, causing severe damage and losses to the plant and natural wealth in the region.

The Syriac political parties and institutions demanded the Turkish government to stop these violations and cutting down the forest trees and to hand over the wood to the villagers to be used for their living needs.”

The letter warned that the continued cutting of trees worsens the living conditions and threatens the lives of the remaining Syriacs (Arameans–Assyrians–Chaldeans) in Tur Abdin, which has been their homeland for thousands of years.

The below political parties and institutions signed the letter:

  • Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO)
  • Tur Abdin Villages Development Union
  • Kanu Syriac Foundation
  • Federation of Syriac Associations in Turkey (Süryani Dernekler Federasyonu, SÜDEF)
  • Assyrian Beth Nahrin Foundation
  • Assyrian Youth Foundation in Sweden.