TURKEY – Christian Couple Kidnapped in Turkey

Gatestone Institute | Uzay Bulut | January 20, 2020

Since January 11, an elderly Assyrian Christian couple, Hurmuz Diril (71) and his wife Şimoni (65), have been missing from the Assyrian village of Mehr, Kovankaya in the province of Sirnak, in Turkey’s southeast. In wintry, sub-zero conditions, their children, followed by military special units, have been searching for them.

“We found out that my parents were missing when I and my relatives… went to our village on January 12. My father’s uncle last saw them in the morning of January 11…. And my brother last spoke to them on January 7,” the couple’s son, Father Adday Remzi Diril told the newspaper Cumhuriyet.

Father Diril is an Assyrian-Chaldean priest in Istanbul and well known for his life of service to more than 7,000 Iraqi Christian refugees displaced throughout Turkey.

“A neighbor of ours in the village initially did not tell us my parents were kidnapped because he was scared,” Diril told the Mesopotamia News Agency, “but later said they had been kidnapped by armed men.”

An investigation concerning the missing couple is underway; the prosecutor’s office in Sirnak has issued a gag order regarding the matter. The Turkish authorities, Diril said, are in touch with the family. The weather conditions, though, have been treacherous and the search so far unsuccessful.

The news of the kidnapping came after the arrest of Father Aho Sefer Bilecen, a well-known Assyrian monk at the monastery, Dayro d’Mor Yakoub d’Qarno, in Mardin in southeast Turkey and two other Assyrians, Josef Yar and Musa Tastekin, on January 10 for allegedly “aiding the PKK”. The monk and the two Assyrians were later released on judicial control, pending trial.

According to the monk’s lawyer, Mustafa Vefa, Bileçen said:

“I give food to whoever comes to my door. I need to do so as per my religion and philosophy. As I am a priest, I cannot lie. I am not doing this in the name of helping an organization, but instead as per my belief. Philosophically, I cannot also denounce someone. This is also the case in terms of religion. I do not step outside the monastery anyway.”

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