Municipality in Turkey Building Parking Lot on Syriac Catholic Monastery Land
By Abdulmesih BarAbraham
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Mardin, Turkey (AINA) -- The Armenian newspaper Agos reported last Thursday that a parking lot is being built on the grounds of the Monastery of St.Efrem in Mardin, belonging to the Syriac Catholic Church.

The monastery was built in 1884 during the reign of Patriarch Cercis Şelhet and belongs today formally to the Syriac Catholic Foundation. It was in use until 1933 and had been utilized later as a military hospital for 12 years. A piece of land belonging to the monastery was confiscated by the city in 1969 under the pretext of being a 'green field.'

Agos reports that Garo Paylan, Armenian HDP member of the Turkish Parliament, asked Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, the Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism, about the construction of a parking lot built on the grounds of the monastery.

The MP is cited saying: "The information that excavations were initiated in order to build a multilevel concrete car park on the grounds of St. Efrem Monastery, which is located in Mardin's Diyarbakır Gate neighborhood, was reported in the social media and the press along with related photographs. The monastery is a first degree historical monument belonging to the Assyrian Catholic community."

Related: The Case of the St. Gabriel Assyrian Monastery in Midyat, Turkey

In fact, the Syriac Catholic Foundation tweeted the following message on April 1st 2021.

"The Municipality, which years ago expropriated a part of the land owned by the historical St. Efram Syriac Catholic Monastery in Mardin, as being 'green space' is now building a multilevel car park on top, knowing that the foundations of the historical building will be damaged and destroyed in that area."

The Monastery has a first-degree historical monument status and according to the Assyrian monthly Newspaper Sabro the excavation work would put it in danger to collapse.

According to the online portal of Bianet, 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.

In his inquiry, Paylan raised the following questions to the Minister of Culture and Tourism:

1. Why don't you stop the construction of the parking lot on the land of the Assyrian monastery?

2. Are you aware that the multilevel car park built on the area seized earlier from the St. Efrem Monastery on the pretext of "green field" is a threat to the existence of the historical monastery?

3. Why don't you stop the extermination policy against historical places such as churches, monasteries and cemeteries belonging to Armenian, Assyrian, Greek and similar ancient cultures in Anatolia's geography?

The actions of the Municipality of Mardin stand in contradiction to its usual tourist marketing campaign that the greatest richness of Mardin is the diversity of the religions and the different cultures living peacefully together for in the city.

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