Turkey Makes No Progress Investigating the Kidnapping of Elderly Christians
Kidnapping-Murder Case Stalls in Turkey
01/11/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the Turkish authorities have stalled the investigation into the disappearance of elderly Assyrian-Chaldean Christians Hurmüz and Şimuni Diril. They were kidnapped from the Turkish village of Mehr, located near the Iraqi border, one-year prior on January 11, 2020. The abductors are believed to have been affiliated with the PKK, a Kurdish militant group designated by the US State Department as a terrorist organization.
The absence of the Diril couple was discovered by their son. The Turkish authorities unsuccessfully conducted a search and rescue operation, but winter weather conditions were challenging. However, the search never resumed as the weather cleared. Two months later on March 20, 2020, the dismembered body of Şimuni was discovered in a nearby river. The whereabouts of Hurmüz remain unknown.
According to a family representative, the authorities never opened a new search into the whereabouts of Hurmüz. Paperwork regarding the autopsy investigation of Şimuni’s death remains incomplete with large pieces of information missing. The procedural system associated with the autopsy process has not moved forward. As a result, the family is left with no answers to the reason for the couples’ kidnapping and subsequent loss of life. The family representative is thus asking the following:
- The opening of an investigation into any procedural failures involving the autopsy report and an investigation into possible negligence of the authorities.
- A release of all documents to the family relevant to Şimuni’s death. Completion of the forensic report and the report of the evidence gathered in the criminal investigation.
- A serious investigation about the fate of Hurmüz.
- That the authorities show a commitment to finding the guilty parties.
The couple was abducted from the village of Mehr, a historically Assyrian Christian village that has been repeatedly caught in the crosshairs of various conflicts. The village was previously evacuated in 1989 and 1994 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 Remzi (Adday) Diril, is an Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic priest based in Istanbul, known internationally for his pastoral care of 7,000 Iraqi Christian refugees displaced in Turkey.
Juliana Taimoorazy, founder and president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, says, “There has been much trauma inflicted on the children of Hurmuz and Simoni. We are requesting the Turkish authorities to treat this case with urgency and care and provide the grieving Diril family with much-deserved answers.”
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Today is a solemn day for the Diril family as they mark the anniversary since their parents’ disappearance. The past year has been incredibly difficult as they attempt to understand what happened and why. We urge the Turkish authorities to fully investigate this case as well as to consistently and openly communicate to the family each step where they are in the process.”