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Ancient Christian cemetery desecrated in Mardin, Turkey

11 July 2022

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A Christian cemetery in south-eastern Turkey has been desecrated, with bones and sacred objects scattered.

The destruction of tombs more than 1,000 years old was discovered by Christians visiting the cemetery in the Yemişli district of Midyat, in the province of Mardin, on 29 June.

Residents reported the destruction of the graves to the police. One commented, “They do not leave our dead alone even in the grave. This brutal behaviour is a great insult to our religion and culture. We condemn this barbaric act.”

A church building in Midyat, Mardin Province, Turkey. Christians have lived in this region since before the advent of Islam

The cemetery chapel was built in 1967 within a burial ground that contains tombs dating from the first millennium AD.

As Christians have not been able to go to the chapel for almost three years owing to pandemic restrictions, it is proving difficult to determine when the attack was carried out.

The incident follows an attack on a Christian family shortly before a church service at Brahîmîye village, also in Mardin province, on Sunday 5 June.

In August 2021 a Christian cemetery in the eastern province of Van was destroyed by bulldozers, leading to calls for improved security measures.

Pray for protection for the tiny Christian minority in Turkey. Ask that they will stand firm in the midst of intimidation.

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