Syriacs demand clarification of the fate of Chaldean couple

Syriacs in Europe call for clarification of the fate of Hurmüz and Şimoni Diril. The Chaldean couple was kidnapped in Şırnak and the Turkish state wants to hold the PKK responsible for the crime.

In the district of Beytüşşebap in the province of Şırnak lies the village of Mehrê (Turkish Kovankaya), traditionally inhabited by Assyrian and Chaldean Christians. Hurmüz (71) and Şimoni (65) Diril come from this village. The couple disappeared on 11 January 2020. The body of Şimoni Diril was discovered after 69 days on the bank of a stream bed. Crimes like these bear a clear signature in the region marked by the activity of Turkish death squads. Yaşar Küçükaslan, the European representative of the Freedom Party of Mesopotamia, sees the fate of the Diril family as a continuation of the genocide against the Syriacs, which began in 1915.

In an interview with ANF, Küçükaslan tells that this is not the first extrajudicial execution of members of the Christian population in the region. In the 1990s, when the freedom movement in Northern Kurdistan became strong, not only Kurds but also Syriacs were affected by the killings by state death squads. In Şırnak JITEM and so-called dagger teams made thousands of people disappear. Their bodies reappeared, if at all, with traces of torture in caves and so-called wells of death.

Because they have not left their country

The Syriacs have lived in the region for 7,000 or 8,000 years, says Küçükaslan. He describes the Diril family as a patriotic family that had already lost two children in the 1990s through the state practice of "disappearances": "It is still not known what happened to the children. In the course of the bloody expulsion policy in Northern Kurdistan, Mehrê was first depopulated in 1994 and then burned down by the Turkish military. Only in 2010 the state lifted the ban on entering the village. From 2011, the Diril couple, who were still living in Istanbul at the time, spent the summers in their home village, and in 2015 they moved back to Elkê. Recently, however, they are said to have been increasingly targeted by the state again. "But they refused to leave," explains Küçükaslan.

Kurdish liberation movement accused

"When the Diril couple disappeared, collaborators in the region tried to blame the Kurdish freedom movement. They tried to create strife between the people. But the people were not deceived by this provocation. They know who is behind this act."

Syriacs in Botan wanted to be completely destroyed

Yaşar Küçükaslan is convinced that forces of the state murdered the couple: "The village guards and Hezbol-Contras [the name of the paramilitary Turkish Hezbollah, which committed countless murders of opposition members, particularly in the 1990s] are behind it. The perpetrators are connected with the state. The state uses these circles against the Kurdish people and the HDP as well as against Syriacs. It is clear why it attacks in Botan. Botan is the land of our people. There is a world-famous patriarchy there. The state does not accept this civilization and culture. It wants to destroy it completely. To stand up for the Diril family is to stand up for the identity of the Syriacs and their culture."

Hurmuz Diril still missing

Küçükaslan continues: "The body of Şimoni was found after 69 days. But there is no trace of Hurmüz. We are following this closely. The Kurdish people and the democratic public should also follow this and put the issue on their agenda."

"Genocide continues"

"The Turkish state was never a friend of our people. This state has committed genocide against us and continues this practice in various ways. We also see the attacks on the HDP in this context. That's why our people should protest against the state everywhere."

"Our people should take an active stand"

Regarding the air raids on 15 June on the Maxmur refugee camp, the Shengal (Sinjar) region and the Medya defense Zones in Southern Kurdistan, the politician says: "We consider this attack on the Kurdish freedom movement as an attack on ourselves. We call upon all Syriacs to take an active stand."

"Authorities have been very reluctant to investigate"

Metin Rhawi of the Union of Syriacs in Europe says on the "disappearance" of the Diril couple that the authorities' search for the missing persons has been remarkably hesitant: "All this shows what status we have in Turkey. Remzi Diril, a son of this family, is the priest of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Istanbul. If it were not the family of a priest, but of an imam, the attitude of the Turkish state would probably be different."

Regarding the attempt to blame the PKK crime, Rhawi says: "The Turkish state is trying to blame someone else in order to look good itself. This is extremely worrying." Rhawi stresses that he has contacted Swedish MPs who want to put the issue on the parliamentary agenda.