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Tur Abdin (Syriac : ܛܘܼܪ ܥܒ݂ܕܝܼܢ; Arabic : طَوْرُ عبدين) is a hilly region situated in southeast Turkey, including the eastern half of the Mardin Province, and Şırnak Province west of the Tigris, on the border with Syria. The name 'Tur Abdin' is derived from Syriac, meaning "mountain of the servants (of God)". Tur Abdin is of great importance to the Syriac Orthodox, for whom the region used to be a monastic and cultural heartland. The Syriac community of Tur Abdin call themselves Suryoye, and traditionally speak a central Neo-Aramaic dialect called Turoyo.
The town of Midyat and the villages of Hah, Bequsyone, Dayro da-Slibo, Salah (with the old monastery of Mor Yaqub), Iwardo (with Mor Huschabo), Anhel, Kafro, Arkah (Harabale, with Dayro Mor Malke), Beth Sbirino, Miden (Middo), Kerburan, Binkelbe with Mor Samun Zayte and Beth Zabday (Azech) were all important Syriac Orthodox places among with countless other villages. Hah has the ancient 'Idto d'Yoldath-Aloho, the Church of the Mother of God.
In the 9th century BCE the Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II described crossing the plateau of Tur Abdin (which he calls "Kashyari") on his way to attack the region of Nairi. Assyrian source from the 9th century BC; where it is called "Kashyari".In 586 B.C. the prophet Ezekiel mentions the famed wine of Izlo, on the southern edge of the plateau of Tur Abdin, in his prophecy against Tyre. The Mor Gabriel Monastery, the oldest Assyrian (Syrian Orthodox) church in the world, was founded in 397 by the ascetic Mor Shmu'el (Samuel) and his student Mor Shem'un (Simon). According to tradition, Shem'un had a dream in which an Angel commanded him to build a House of Prayer in a location marked with three large stone blocks. When Shem'un awoke, he took his teacher to the place and found the stone the angel had placed. At this spot Mor Gabriel Monastery was built.
During World War I, 300,000 Syriac Christians were killed in the Ottoman Empire's [Syriac Genocide] (called in Syriac Sayfo, simply 'the sword'). In the last few decades, caught between Turkish assimilation policies against Kurds, and Kurdish resistance, many Syriacs have fled the region or been killed. Today there are only 5,000, a quarter of the Christian population thirty years ago. Most have fled to Syria (where the city of Qamishli was built by them), Europe (particularly Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands), Australia and the United States. In the past few years, a few families have returned to Tur Abdin.
Prior to the start of World War I, the village of Gülgöze had about 200 families, and all were ethnic Assyrians that belonged to the Syriac Orthodox Church. During the Assyrian Genocide, tens of thousands of refugees from throughout Tur Abdin arrived here for safety. At one point, the number of Assyrians in the village was up to 21,980 people. Refugees arrived from villages including Habasnos, Midyat, Bote, Keferze, Kafro Eloyto, Mzizah and Urnas. Even refugees from outside Tur Abdin arrived, coming from villages such as Deqlath, Bscheriye, Gozarto, Hesno d Kifo and Mifarqin.
Being aware of the Turks and Kurds coming to Gülgöze, the Assyrian villagers and refugees created a militia to defend themselves, which was led by Masud Mirza, the son of a Melik. Their resistance lasted 60 days, and ended in success.
At the same time, the Kurdish authority of Midyat was given orders to attack Gülgöze and Arnas. However, Aziz Agha, the leader of the Midyat area, told them that they didn't have enough soldiers to attack both areas, and therefore they would attack Gulgoze only, and then go to Arnas later on. Therefore, The Kurds of Tur Abdin and Ramman, under the generalship of Ahmed Agha and Salem Agha, collected themselves in Mardin, and created a unit of 13,000 men. The government authorized the distribution of arms, and they headed towards Gülgöze, arriving late at night to begin the siege.
After hours of gun-battle, the Assyrians defeated the Kurds and drove them out, but there were many casualties on both sides regardless. After 10 days, The Kurds attacked again only to be beaten yet again, as they lost well over 300 men. Before the beginning of a third attempt, Kurdish leaders called for aid from the mayors of Diyarbakır(Raschid) and Mardin(Badri). However, A third attempt also failed and after 30 days of battle, Aziz Agha suggested a peace treaty between the two sides. 3 Assyrians met with Aziz to discuss a peace treaty, But the Assyrians refused to lay down their weapons, thus the battle continued. The siege continued for another 30 days leading to many deaths on both sides. In the end, the Kurdish soldiers surrendered and left the Assyrians of Tur Abdin alone, hence why the Tur Abdin region is one of the only Christian populated areas left in Turkey outside of Istanbul. The total death toll of this 60-day siege is unknown, but there were at least 1,000 deaths with both sides losses combined.
On 10 February 2006 and the following day, large demonstrations took place in the city of Midyat in Tur Abdin. Muslims angry about the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons gathered in Estel, the new part of the city, and started to march towards the old part of Midyat (6 kilometers away), where the Christians live. The mob was stopped by the police before reaching old Midyat.
In 2008 a series of legal challenges were made against the monastery of Mor Gabriel. Some local Kurdish villages sought to claim land on which the monastery had paid taxes since the 1930s as belonging to the villages, and made other accusations against the monastery. This led to considerable diplomatic and Human Rights action throughout Europe and within Turkey.
The most important Syriac Orthodox centre in Tur Abdin is the monastery of Dayro d-Mor Hananyo, 6 km south east of Mardin, in the west of the region. Built from yellow rock, the monastery is affectionately known as Dayro d Kurkmo in Syriac, Dayr al-Zafaran in Arabic, or Deyrülzafarân in Turkish: the Safron Monastery. Founded in AD 493, the monastery was the residence of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch from 1160 to 1932. Although the patriarch now lives in Damascus the monastery still contains the patriarchal throne and tombs of seven patriarchs and metropolitans. Today the monastery is led by a bishop and a monk and some lay assistants, and is a school for orphans. The bishop of Mor Hananyo is also the patriarchal vicar of Mardin. His goal is to rebuild the monastery and to preserve the history of the Syriac Orthodox church. The Dayro d-Mor Hananyo is part of the UNESCO world cultural heritage and was visited by numerous celebrities e.g. like Prince Charles.
In the centre of the Tur Abdin region, a few miles south of Midyat, is Dayro d-Mor Gabriel. Built in AD 397, Mor Gabriel monastery, is the oldest functioning Syriac Orthodox monastery on earth. It is the residence of the Metropolitan Bishop of Tur Abdin, seven nuns, four monks and a host of guests, assistants and students. The monastery is charged with keeping the flame of Syriac Orthodox faith alive in Tur Abdin, for which it is as much a fortress as a church.
The Saffron and Mor Gabriel monasteries are the most important of the region, existing along with six or seven other active monasteries:
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The Assyrian genocide was the mass slaughter of the Assyrian population of the Ottoman Empire and those in neighbouring Persia by Ottoman troops during the First World War, in conjunction with the Armenian and Greek genocides.
Mardin Province, is a province of Turkey with a population of 809,719 in 2017. The population was 835,173 in 2000. The capital of the Mardin Province is Mardin. Located near the traditional boundary of Anatolia and Mesopotamia, it has a diverse population, composed of Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian people, with Kurds forming the majority of the province's population.
Dayro d-Mor Hananyo is an important Syriac Orthodox monastery. The monastery is located in the Syriac cultural region known as Tur Abdin, and is located three kilometers south east of Mardin, Turkey.
Dayro d-Mor Gabriel, also known as Deyrulumur, is the oldest surviving Syriac Orthodox monastery in the world. It is located on the Tur Abdin plateau near Midyat in the Mardin Province in southeastern Turkey. It has been involved in a dispute with the Turkish government that threatened its existence.
Midyat is a town in Mardin Province of Turkey. The ancient city is the center of a centuries-old Hurrian town in Southeast-Turkey. In its long history the city of Midyat has been ruled by various different leaders and nations.
Assyrians/Syriacs in Turkey are an indigenous Semitic-speaking ethnic group and minority of Turkey with a presence in the region dating to as far back as the 25th century BC, making them the oldest ethnic group in the nation. Some regions of what is now south eastern Turkey were an integral part of Assyria from the 25th century BC to the 7th century AD, including its final capital, Harran.
Inwardo or Gülgöze – is a village that lies very high, east of the city Midyat, in the Mardin Province of Turkey, and can be reached from Midyat on foot in 2 hours. The village was founded some time around the 10th century.
Beth Kustan is an Assyrian village in the Mardin Province of Turkey. It is located 26 kilometres from Midyat. In 2011 there were 95 people in the village.
İzbırak is a village in Mardin Province in southeastern Turkey. It is located in the district of Midyat and the historical region of Tur Abdin.
Altıntaş is a village in Mardin Province in southeastern Turkey. It is located in the district of Midyat and the historical region of Tur Abdin.
Polycarpus Augin Aydın, is the Metropolitan and Patriarchal Vicar for the Archdiocese of the Netherlands of the Syriac Orthodox Church. The Metropolitan Seat is located at St. Ephrem the Syrian Monastery in Glane/Losser, the Netherlands.
Taşköy is a village located in Nusaybin district of Mardin Province of Turkey. It is situated about 30 km south of Midyat and 6 km to Mor Gabriel Monastery. The village is located within the historic region of Tur Abdin.
Dioceses of the Syriac Orthodox Church: In the period of its greatest expansion, in the tenth century, the Syriac Orthodox Church had around 20 metropolitan dioceses and a little over a hundred suffragan dioceses. By the seventeenth century only 20 dioceses remained, reduced in the twentieth century to 10. The seat of Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch was at Mardin before the First World War, and thereafter in Deir Zaʿfaran, from 1932 in Homs, and finally from 1959 in Damascus.
Mount Izla, also Mountain of Nisibis or briefly in the 9th century Mount Kashyari, is a low mountain or ridge near Nisibis in what once was Sassanid Persia, but is now southeastern Turkey, along the border with Syria. The ridge is the location of dozens of ancient monasteries which were built in the early centuries of Christianity. In modern times, all of the monasteries are in ruins except for that of Mor Melke reconsecrated in the 1930s, Mor Yakub Monastery, founded in Dibek in 2012-2013, and the Monastery of Mor Augin which was refounded in 2008 after being abandoned in the 70’s.
Kafro also known as Elbeğendi is a village in Midyat District of Mardin Province, Turkey. It has a population of 50 people, all of whom are followers of the Syriac Orthodox Church. The village was abandoned during the 1990s due to the PKK conflicts and rising tension in the region, but has recently been repopulated.
Massacres of Diyarbakır were massacres that took place in the Diyarbekir Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire between the years of 1894 and 1896. The events were part of the Hamidian massacres and targeted the vilayet's Christian population – Armenians and Assyrians.
Arıca is a village in Batman Province in southeastern Turkey. It is located in the district of Gercüş and the historical region of Tur Abdin.
Catalcam or Dayro Daslibo in Syriac is a village in Mardin province in the Dargeçit district of Turkey.
Güngören is a village in the Midyat district of Mardin Province, Turkey.
Mor Yulios Elias Qoro (Elias Mar Julius) (1881–1962) was a Syriac Orthodox Church Bishop and the third Patriarchal delegate to Malankara. Born as Elias Malke Qoro at Mardin on August 1, 1881,educated at school of the Church of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. He joined Dairo d-Kurkmo(Mor Hananyo Monastery) in 1902, and became a monk on 16 June 1905. He was appointed secretary to Patriarch Ignatius Abded Aloho II in 1906, and was ordained kashisho in 1908.He met King Edward VI twice. He became abbot of Mor Hananyo Monastery in 1911, and was appointed director of its printing press.He was consecrated bishop on 23 September 1923 in the Church of the Forty Martyrs by Patriarch Ignatius Elias III,appointed to serve in Malankara. He served as Patriarchal Delegate to Malankara in 1927. In 1932, he established Mor Ignatius Dayro Manjinikkara on the tomb of Patriarch Elias III at Omallur, Kerala. He established and approved order for various monasteries and churches in Kerala. He died in 1962 at Omallur, Kerala,India and was buried at Mor Ignatius Dayro Manjinikkara.