ICC Note: As many Syrians have been driven out of their homes and have fled the country for safety, those who have stayed are fearful that new policies may make it more challenging for Christians to ever return. In Hassake, Christian leaders have voiced opposition against officials who are taking control of properties owned by Christians who have left the country. The leaders view it as intimidation against those who have left even if it will just be for a short time.
10/23/2015 Syria (Fides) – Leaders of Christian Churches and institutions in the north-eastern province of Hassakè firmly condemn a “safeguard and administration” programme supported by the dominant local political and administrative bodies of Kurd origin, regarding properties belonging to citizens who have emigrated. A statement signed by the bishops and leading members of local Christian communities – including Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hondo, who leads the Syrian Catholic archdiocese of Hassakè-Nisibi – , and by movements and bodies active in civil society – corporations of rural farmworkers and the National Youth Organisation for national reconciliation – says the self-assigned right of the local authorities to confiscate and administer goods and properties belonging to persons forced to leave their homes and emigrate because of the war in Syria, is “violation of human rights”.
For the statement signees these measures threaten especially the presence of Christians in the region who own more than 30% of the lands and houses. The decision to set up bodies charged with control and management of properties belonging to persons who have temporarily left the area is seen by the leaders of the Christian communities, as intimidation against persons forced to leave their homes – and who, after having suffered the expropriation of goods would also see undermined their right to return – and those who remain led to think it is better to sell property before they find themselves expropriated in the case of temporary absence.