In Turkey, Even Dead Christians Aren’t Safe

September 14, 2020

Persecution of Christians in Turkey: the desecration of the graves in the Armenian Stanoz Cemetery in Ankara’s Sincan district demonstrates the same contempt for the Christian history and heritage of Asia Minor that we see in the conversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque, and the conversion of other ancient churches to mosques as well. This contempt for Christianity and Christians is also manifested in the ongoing denial of property rights and legal identity to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Turkey, see here.

“In Turkey, Even Dead Christians Aren’t Safe,” by Uzay Bulut, The American Conservative, September 12, 2020:

Hatred of non-Muslims is so intense that cemeteries are being attacked—and the government is fanning the flames.

A recent demonstration of this hostility took place in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Graves in an Armenian cemetery there were reportedly desecrated, according to the news website Bianet:

The Armenian Stanoz Cemetery in Ankara’s Sincan district has been the target of treasure hunters for years. The cemetery has been damaged many times before. A part of the Armenian cemetery with agricultural land next to it is also used as a picnic area. The barbed wires placed around the cemetery by the Sincan Municipality in order to protect the cemetery have been removed and added to the land of the vineyard houses built in the valley. The images of scattered human bones coming out of graveyards dug by treasure hunters looking for burials in the cemetery have been posted on social media many times. However, due to a lack of action [by authorities], only a few tombstones with Armenian inscriptions and cross carvings remain.

Opposition member of parliament Garo Paylan, who is of Armenian origin, asked Turkey’s culture and tourism minister Nuri Ersoy the following questions through a parliamentary motion:

  • Why have you not protected the Ankara Stanoz Armenian Cemetery?
  • Do you have a plan to protect the numerous Armenian cemeteries across the country?
  • Have you tried to catch the treasure hunters who looted the Stanoz Armenian Cemetery?

The minister has yet to answer Paylan’s questions.

Such attacks are not isolated incidents in Turkey. They’re widespread and the reason appears to be the hatred and intolerance many Turks have for non-Muslims. Even a majority of the representatives in the Turkish political opposition do not raise their voices against the abuses of non-Muslim cemeteries and graves. Meanwhile the examples keep accumulating.

In February, 20 of the 72 gravestones at the Ortaköy Christian Cemetery in Ankara were destroyed, according to news reports. Another attack was carried out on a grave in the cemetery of the Santa Maria Catholic Church in Trabzon in northeast Turkey….