Yeşildere, Turkey, May 26, 2020
Orthodox Christians in Turkey are concerned that the church in the village of Yeşildere has greatly suffered at the hands of looters over the past years.
Treasure hunters have stripped graves, excavated the building structure, and destroyed the garden. Villagers have appealed to authorities to designate the church a tourist site in order to preserve it, reports Persecution.org.
The matter was also reported to the Turkish Parliament by Armenian MP Garo Paylan, reports Romfea.
The village once had a strong Greek Orthodox presence before the Turkish genocide against ethnic Christians, which Turkey has never acknowledged or apologized for.
The church’s ancient frescoes have also been destroyed in recent years. “The church has managed to stand the test of time, but in recent years the frescoes that adorn the walls of the church have been literally destroyed. The tombs around the church have been looted by treasure hunters. The devastation, which the residents are reacting to, does not honor the country’s historical or cultural heritage,” the MP said.
Deputy Paylan posed several questions to the Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy:
Have the individuals who desecrated and damaged the church and surrounding area in search of treasure been identified and have legal proceedings been initiated against them?
Why aren’t the historical buildings in the village being protected by the Ministry?
Is there any intention of restoring the church to once again function as a place of worship?
What steps has the Ministry taken to prevent the destruction of the cultural memory and cultural property of Christians?
Why can’t the Ministry stop the activities of treasure hunters?
See the extent of the damage in the video below: