“Erdogan: No kidding: Where are the Syrian bishops?”
Peaceful vigil in front of the Turkish consulate in Hannover (April 22)
Friday, April 22, 2016
In front of the Turkish Consulate, an der Christuskirche 3, 30167 Hannover
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) is organizing a vigil in front of the Turkish consulate in Hannover on the occasion of the third anniversary of the abduction of Mor Gregorios Yoanna Ibrahim, Archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church, and Boulos Yazigi, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of Aleppo. “In the scope of our human rights campaign, we want to draw attention to the fate of two of the most important Christian dignitaries in Syria, who were abducted in northern Syria – close to the border with Turkey, to the west of Aleppo – on April 22, 2013.” explained the STP’s Middle East Consultant, Kamal Sido, in Göttingen on Wednesday. Since that day in April, there has been no sign of life from the two Christian dignitaries. The bishops were ambushed when they were on their way to negotiate about the release of an abducted priest. Their driver, a deacon, was shot. The two bishops were abducted. So far, nobody has claimed responsibility for the act.
“The bishops had repeatedly called for a peaceful coexistence of the different ethnic and religious groups in their country. Both of them had repeatedly called for reconciliation, forgiveness and dialogue – and they had tried to find ways to put an end to the violence in Syria,” says Sido. Following a suggestion by the STP, the city of Weimar had presented the two bishops with its human rights prize in 2014, honoring their work as mediators, ambassadors, and human rights advocates in the ongoing civil war.
According to German, Turkish and international media reports, the Turkish government has significant influence on the Islamist groups operating in northern Syria, which is where the two bishops were abducted. Thus, the international human rights organization has repeatedly asked the Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to help to clarify what happened to the two bishops. However, the government in Ankara refuses to discuss this matter, denying that it has influence on the armed militias groups in Syria.
The Turkish leadership under President Erdogan is using religious issues to enforce its geopolitical interests in Syria and throughout the Middle East – and it provides logistical, political, and diplomatic support for Islamist rebels in Syria, fueling violence and hatred among the different ethnic and religious communities in the civil war-torn country. The radical Islamists have proclaimed a “holy war” against the Christians, Yezidis, Assyrians/Chaldeans/Aramaeans, the Kurds, Armenians, and other minorities.
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