A ‘Nation’s Garden’ on Armenian, Syriac Cemeteries: ‘The Project Must Immediately Stop’

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  • November 12, 2019
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The Federation of Syriac Associations chairperson and two minority MPs have reacted to the recreational facility project in Dargecit, Mardin.

A "Nation's Garden" that consists of a park and a wedding salon has been built in Dargecit, Mardin.

The "Saray Neighborhood Recreation Project" was launched in March 2016 by the trustee whom the Ministry of Interior appointed in place of the elected mayor. The tender price for the project was 1 million 270 thousand liras (~220 thousand US dollars).

The "Nation's Gardens" are recreational facilities that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) promised to build all around the country before the 2018 presidential elections.

The locals say the project area, where they call "Tirbik" includes Armenian and Syriac cemeteries.

Federation of the Syriac Associations (SADEF) Chairperson Evgil Turker, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MPs Tuma Celik and Garo Paylan have spoken to bianet about the issue.

Turker: We strongly condemn the project

Turker said that it is a "really serious case" that made the Syriacs ask, "Is it now the turn of our deceased?"

"This mustn't happen, we strongly condemn it as the federation. Of course, this event reminded us of the past. There had been similar cases in the past.

"Municipalities change hands or not, this is a cemetery or not, this is looting. This is proof that the deceased of others are not respected.

"We will investigate the case, we will pursue it. Political parties and lawyers must also give their best efforts.

"These rent-seekers should not be allowed. This is a mentality, this mentality has to be stopped."

Celik: It must be stopped immediately

Mardin MP Celik said, "We encounter similar cases in many places in Turkey. We previously faced similar scenes in Van and Tekirdag."

"Syriacs have lived in the region for years. It is possible that these cemeteries belong to the ancestors of the Syriacs. They don't show respect even in such a delicate situation like cemeteries.

"Tombs and gravestones were encountered during the work in this area. The work had to be stopped at that moment and an examination had to be carried out, accompanied by experts. The museum, the cultural directorate and the relevant committees had to act.

"The work must be stopped immediately and the necessary examinations must be carried out."

Paylan: There is still a toilet in the Armenian cemetery

Diyarbakir MP Paylan recalled that a toilet that was built in an Armenian cemetery in Edremit, Van still has not been demolished despite all efforts.

"In the last year, the trustee built a toilet in an Armenian cemetery. Although I spoke to the minister of culture for its demolition and he gave an order at the budget committee, that toilet still has not been demolished.

"Unfortunately, everything that went unpunished repeats.

"Unfortunately, a nation's garden is being built on an Armenian cemetery in Dargecit this time.

"Of course, it is very important for us that children play in a garden but not showing respect to those who lay under the soil is great remorselessness.

"We think that it would be important to correct the situation or to put a stone or a symbol in the name of the Armenians who lay there under the soil.

"There should not be a toilet in that garden. It should be protected as a green area."

Source: English Bianet