(AINA) -- The Assyrian Association of the village of Hazakh in Tur Abdin, Turkey, was attacked on February 12, according to Suroyo TV, an Assyrian television channel based in Sweden. The identity of the attackers is unknown. Assyrians in Tur Abdin have asked the authorities to open an investigation into the incident as a possible crime against the community. Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) are Christians and have in the past been subject to harassment and persecution in Turkey.
Facing persecution and discrimination, Turkey's Assyrian population, once numbering more than 130,000, has been reduced to about 5,000. Most of the Assyrians of Turkey have fled to Europe -- mainly Sweden, The Netherlands and Germany.
Some examples of persecutions:
- The St. Gabriel Assyrian monastery, founded in 397 A.D., has been embroiled in a legal battle over its land (AINA 1-30-2011). The Turkish state has attempted to confiscate the monastery's land, which is located in the Tur Abdin area.
- As many as 50 Assyrians were killed during a ten year period between 1987 and 1997 in the Tur Abdin area, in "Operation Ergenekon" (AINA 2-10-2010).
- Fr. Yusuf Akbulut, an Assyrian priest from St. Mary's Syriac Orthodox Church in Diyarbakir, Turkey was arrested in 2000 for affirming the Turkish genocide of Assyrians in 1915-1918 (AINA 11-23-2000).
- On June 25,1996 the Turkish military arrested four Assyrian men in Midyat, Tur Abdin (AINA 4-17-1997).