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Eshoo, Fortenberry Condemn Turkey’s Seizure of Assyrian Church Properties

July 15th, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C— Today, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Co-Chairs of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus released the following statement strongly condemning the Turkish government for seizing sacred church properties from the Assyrian people.

“There are few things more sacred to the Assyrian people than the churches and monasteries that define their roots which date back to ancient Mesopotamia in 3500 B.C. The Turkish government’s latest actions are one more example of a deliberate and coordinated effort to eliminate the rights, history, and culture of the Assyrian people. Stealing millions of square feet of land, including two 1,500 year-old working monasteries is nothing more than religious persecution and threatens the Assyrian’s future in Turkey. As Co-Chairs of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, we stand firm in condemning these actions by Turkey and call on the government to return the monasteries and churches to their rightful owners.”

This week, it was reported that the Turkish government had begun seizing dozens of properties from the Syriac Orthodox Church, claiming that their ownership deeds had lapsed. Numerous monasteries and churches, as well as graveyards, have been given over to the state Treasury and now to Turkey’s Department of Religious Affairs. 

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