Turkey imprisons Syriac monk over act of charity

Publication Date: 9/4/2021

Source: ACN Ireland

On the 7th April, a court in Turkey sentenced a Syriac Orthodox monk to prison for giving “help to a terrorist organisation”. Father Sefer Bileçen, informally known as Fr. Aho, was sentenced to 25 months in prison after being found guilty on trumped up charges of assisting PKK fighters. The trial was held behind closed doors. Fr. Aho was not at the courtroom and categorically rejects the charges. Fr. Aho gave bread to two PKK fighters who visited his monastery to request food. The PKK, or in English the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, is an outlawed Kurdish Maoist terrorist organisation, which has previously carried out suicide bombings and is involved in fighting in Syria.

Fr. Aho is an Assyrian priest in the Syriac Orthodox Church. He was serving as the custodian the Monastery of St. Jacob at the time of the incident. This region of Turkey had previous a substantial Assyrian Christian population. During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire carried out a genocide directed against Christians, namely the Armenians, the Pontic Greeks and the Assyrians. in 1915, during the genocide, St. Jacob’s Monastery was abandoned, but has been restored and reoccupied in more recent years.

Fr. Aho does not deny giving bread to the PKK fighters but is rightly insistent that his actions were not political but rather Christian charity. He said that he would have given food to anyone who asked for it at the monastery as he is commanded to do so by the Christian Faith. He has also said he will not lie about giving the PKK members food as the Faith commands him to tell the truth.

Fr. Aho is plainly not a terrorist sympathiser, but rather a man of God. Anti-Christianity is becoming more common in Turkey as the eastern Mediterranean country drifts closer to Islamism. This has included attacks of Turkey’s Christian heritage, for example turning the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Turkey has also been accused of ethnically cleansing parts of northern Syria of Christian Assyrians and Armenians. While this all goes on, Turkey is able to occupy with impunity two-fifths of a sovereign EU country, Cyprus. Please join ACN Ireland in prayer for the intercession of Our Lady, so that Fr. Aho and all Christians held for their faith may be released.

Link: https://www.acnireland.org/journal/2021/4/9/turkey-imprisons-syriac-monk-for-act-of-charity

Pin It