TURKEY: Historical Hevsel Gardens of Syriac heritage vandalized by Omid Municipality 

OMID, Turkey — The Turkish authorities continue their crimes against the Syriac (Aramean-Chaldean-Assyrian) people, in attempts to obliterate the features of their civilization and history in Beth Nahrin (Mesopotamia), including the historical Hevsel Gardens , located between the historical city walls of Sur and the riverbeds of the Tigris in the southeastern province of Omid (Diyarbakir), was enlisted as a World Heritage Site in 2015 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

In 2016, Diyarbakir municipality officials decided to transform the archaeological area into a special project area, making way for construction works, a café, roads and an observation terrace being built using heavy machinery.

“At the moment, a protected urban natural area and natural landscape are turned into an area for rent. Heavy equipment and trucks are destroying these natural sites and riverbeds. These destructions will damage the wildlife,” member of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) Ferit Kahraman stated, adding that a criminal complaint has been filed against all responsible officials in Diyarbakir.

“We are looking at how long this destruction will last and what these unconscious works will bring. We demand those responsible punished and the destruction to be stopped,” he continued.

Co-Chairman of the Chamber of Mining Engineers Doğan Hatun stated that when they came to inspect the destruction area, officials of the Omid (Diyarbakır) Metropolitan Municipality Environmental Protection Department and Sur Municipality also came to the site and stated that they “asked for permission to take sand and gravel from the river bed”, but that they did not attach much importance to this request.

“While not a single nail can be hammered here without the permission of UNESCO and ICOMOS, they can give the municipality the authority to take sand randomly with shovels and trucks,” Hatun declared, indicating that they are trying to protect the city from municipalities administered by trustees.

“It is necessary to remind the municipalities once again that real authority lies with the people because they are the real owner of the city, not the municipalities,” he added.

“Since they do not aim to protect this city, they can randomly change the river bed with heavy equipment. If no sound is heard, they will turn this place into an area of ​​rent,” Hatun concluded.