Priest’s Parents Vanish in Southeastern Turkey
Search Continues 12 Days After Disappearance
01/23/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on January 11, 2020, the elderly parents of a Chaldean Catholic priest in Turkey disappeared. The absence of Hurmuz and Simoni Diril was discovered the following day, and their son was informed that it was a kidnapping. The man who witnessed the abduction said that the couple was taken by PKK members, two men and one woman.
An investigation into the disappearance remains ongoing by the Turkish authorities. A search for their location has so far proven unfruitful, and winter weather conditions have made the search challenging. The abduction occurred in the village of Meer, in Şırnak Province, a rocky mountainous region in Turkey’s southeast, near the Iraqi border. This area is known to have an active PKK presence. The PKK is a Kurdish militant group designated by the US State Department as a terrorist organization.
Mehr is historically an Assyrian Christian village which has been repeatedly caught in the crosshairs of various conflicts. The village had previously been evacuated in 1989 and 1992 because of the conflict between the PKK and Turkish army. Ten years ago, the Diril couple had returned to the village despite the dangers in an attempt to rebuild. Their son, Father Adday Ramzi Diril, is a Chaldean Catholic priest based in Istanbul, known internationally for his pastoral care of 7,000 Iraqi Christian refugees displaced in Turkey.
Juliana Taimoorazy, president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, said, “The kidnapping of this innocent Assyrian Christian couple only plants new fears in our community’s hearts and it expedites the exodus of Christians from their ancestral lands. We appeal to the Turkish government to make all efforts to rescue the kidnapped couple, and to bring the perpetrators swiftly to justice. We appeal to the international community to break its silence on the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians.”
“The kidnapping of the Diril couple shows how multiple those who target Christians in the region are and why they should never be allowed to get away with their crimes,” said Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist. “Their aim is to make Assyrian (Christians) flee and steal the lands and properties that they are forced to leave behind. The more Assyrians are supported and empowered, the more difficult it will be for the potential perpetrators to target and harm them.”
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “We are extremely concerned for the welfare of the Diril family. This abduction has sent shockwaves throughout the Assyrian Christian community, especially among displaced Iraqi Christians who have personally benefited from the love and care that the Diril family has poured into their community. It is a targeted incident that unfortunately shows how hard it is for Christians to live safely in the Middle East. We are grateful for the ongoing investigation, and pray for the safe and speedy return of the Diril couple.”