Written question HL272: Lord Alton of Liverpool 29-06-2017

Asked on: 29 June 2017
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Lords
Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Turkey about the transfer of 50 Syrian Christian churches, monasteries and cemeteries in Mardin province to the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs; and when they last discussed that government's obligations under Article 18 of the 1948 Universal declaration of Human Rights which sets out the obligations of states to protect freedom of religion and belief.
A
Answered on: 12 July 2017

​Legal changes to local government structures in Mardin, where many important Assyrian religious sites are found, resulted in 2012 in the transfer of the title deeds to some religious sites from local bodies to central government. They were eventually transferred to the Government's Directorate for Religious Affairs. Assyrian organisations are making legal appeals against these decisions. The British Embassy in Ankara regularly raises human rights issues with the Turkish authorities and will be closely following this legal process. We strongly support religious freedom in Turkey and have supported civil society organisations working in this area.

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