03/20/2021, 15.13
TURKEY
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No justice for Chaldean priest in Turkey after his father goes missing and his mother turns up dead

Turkey's human rights agency has rejected the request by Fr Remzi Diril for an investigation. Nothing is known about his father who went missing over a year ago while his mother’s body was found, naked with signs of torture. Human rights groups call on the members of the human rights agency to resign.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The Human Rights and Gender Equality Authority of Turkey (TİHEK) has rejected a request by Chaldean priest Fr Remzi Diril to shed light on the murder of his mother Şimuni Diril and the disappearance of his father Hürmuz Diril, who has been missing since January 2020.

The agency denied the request because the case, in its view, does not meet the criteria of confessional, ethnic or religious "discrimination".

Hürmuz and Şimoni Diril were a Chaldean couple from Kovankaya (Meer in Assyrian‎), a Christian village in Beytüşşebap, a district in Şırnak province, south-eastern Turkey, scene of fighting between the Turkish government and Kurdish separatists.

According to an eyewitness, armed men came to the village on 11 January and picked up the couple; bad weather and a silence imposed by the local authorities prevented search operations.

On 20 March 2020, the body of the 65-year-old woman was found on the edge of a stream with obvious signs of torture while her 71-year-old husband has not been heard of ever since.

Following their disappearance, the only other villager said that men from the PKK, the pro- Kurdish independence party, were behind the kidnapping. However, a few days later he changed his version of events saying that the couple had left home on their own, then they were never heard from again.

In the past few months, their son, Fr Remzi Diril, while continuing his investigation into his parents’ disappearance, filed a case with TİHEK , the human rights agency.

The clergyman said that his mother's body was found naked with many fractures and nothing was done to find out what led to her murder.

Likewise, nothing is known about his father, nor any serious efforts have been to find him, and that the uncertainty is like torture for the family.

For Remzi Diril, the lack of progress in this case is due to the indifference of state institutions towards his parents because of their faith and the political opinions attributed to them, namely complicity with Kurdish independence movements active in the area.

As he believes his family is the victim of a discriminatory attitude, he asked the human rights agency to intervene. The latter however rejected the request asking the family to use the term “discrimination” in their petition.

Human rights groups have criticised TİHEK, which is tasked with helping investigations into serious human rights violations and ascertain whether there is discrimination on the basis of religion or political belief.

With respect to the Christian couple, they call on the agency’s members to resign because they failed to meet out justice.

In recent months, activists and others have launched a petition on change.org (Şimuni Diril'i kim/kimler öldürdü? Hurmüz Diril nerede) urging the authorities to act, so far in vain.

For the Turkish government and local authorities, the emergency situation linked to the novel coronavirus pandemic are to blame for the slow pace of the investigation.

Several Syriac Christian villages are located in the area, whose indigenous population was forcibly driven out after war broke out between Turks and Kurdish separatists.

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