Cablegate: Jandarma Evicts Village Guards From Syriac Village Of

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: ADANA 00105

1. (SBU) Summary: A Syriac Orthodox Church representative told
poloff that on September 12, security forces evicted the Kurdish
village guards that had been living in the village of Sarikoy in
Sirnak Province (reftel). Members of the Syriac community who
had resided in Sarikoy prior to 1994, and who had recently
returned from Europe in order to resettle in there, will consult
with Sirnak government officials on security and other matters
before returning to the now emptied village. The Sirnak
Governor's interest in this case, and ultimately strong action
by his office in concert with security forces, represents the
most affirmative official government response in favor of the
Syriac community in the Southeast to date. End summary.

2. (SBU) In reftel, post reported on Sarikoy, a village in
Sirnak province that had been inhabited by members of the Syriac
Christian community until 1994, when they left, fleeing violence
in the region. Twenty Kurdish village guards assigned to work
in the region subsequently inhabited the village, along with
family members. When Syriac community members returned from
Europe this year to find their resettlement in Sarikoy blocked
by the presence of the village guards, they addressed their
claims to the Governor of Sirnak. Five representatives of the
community have been staying at the Syriac Orthodox Church's
Dayrul Umur Monastary in Midyat while pursuing what observers
had initially hoped would be an amicable agreement allowing them
to return to their village.

3. (SBU) In a September 1 meeting at the monastery,
representatives of the Church told poloff that the Sirnak
Governor had that very day cut electricity services to Sarikoy
in an effort to dissuade the village's current occupants from
staying there. Church representatives also told us that in the
week leading up to this development, they had received a visit
from an Anatolian Agency wire service reporter who had visited
the Governor's office a short time earlier. The reporter said
that the Governor's desk had been covered with documents related
to Sarikoy and that the Governor spoke of the importance he
placed on resolving the case.

4. (SBU) In a September 16 phone conversation, a Syriac church
official based at the Monastery in Midyat confirmed press
reports that the Jandarma had "evacuated" the village guards
from the village on September 12, thus paving the way for the
Syriac community's return. The Jandarma were very clever, he
said, in the way they launched their "operation." He stated
that approximately three weeks earlier, the Jandarma had given
notice to Sarikoy's current residents of its intent to evict
them, including the date the eviction would be carried out.
When the Jandarma discovered that the guards had gathered media
representatives to observe the process, they abandoned the date,
and planned the September 12 operation. According to our
contact in Midyat, the Jandarma called the guards from Sarikoy
to the Jandarma post around 8:30 pm on September 12, informed
them that Jandarma officers were needed at an operation
elsewhere in the region, and asked the guards to occupy the post
while they were gone. When the guards were inside the post,
Jandarma allegedly disarmed them, and prevented their return to
Sarikoy. The Jandarma were reportedly planning to empty Sarikoy
houses of the guards' possessions September 18-19.

5. (SBU) For the moment the representatives of the Syriac
community have stayed put at the Monastery, as they are
concerned about security in the village. They will communicate
with the Governor and Deputy Governor of Sirnak as they
contemplate their return.

6. (SBU) Comment: Sarikoy is not the only place where the
presence of Kurdish village guards has proved an obstacle to
returns for displaced persons. Lawyers at the Diyarbakir Bar
Association told poloff they had been following this case, and
like the Syriac community members, were somewhat surprised about
the attention it was receiving from government officials. Other
village returns (to majority Kurdish villages, for example) will
be considerably more politically charged, and we should not
expect the Jandarma action in Sarikoy to be a precedent. It is
noteworthy, however, as the village return issue comes under
increasing scrutiny by the European Union. End comment.


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