Aramean people: Aramean people (not to be confused with ‘Armenians’) speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Abraham, Moses and Jesus. They are the indigenous people of what was called in ancient times Aram- Nahrin, in our days it is called ‘Mesopotamia’.
Some Arameans today identify themselves with “Assyrians”, because of the spiritual colonial hate generating activities of the Western missionaries and diplomats in the Middle-East in 16th and 19th centuries. Other Arameans became known as “Chaldeans”. However all of them are Arameans.
In Turkey, the Arameans are called: Süryani. In Arabic they are called Al- Suryan.
Aramean Organizations sent a letter to the President and Prime Minister of Turkey on the Aramean Monastery St. Gabriel and recognition of the Aramean indigenous people as a distinct ethnic minority.
Netherlands, 20th of May 2009
Subject: The Aramean monastery St. Gabriel in Tur Abdin and recognition of the Indigenous Aramean people of Turkey.
The Office of the President of Republic of Turkey,
His Excellency Abdullah Gül
The Office of the Prime Minister of Republic of Turkey,
His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
We, the undersigned, the Arameans of Aram-Naharaim Organization and the Aramean Democratic Organization write you to draw your attention to the situation of the Aramean monastery St. Gabriel in Tur Abdin and ask you to recognize the Aramean people (Aramiler in Turkish) as a distinct ethnic minority.
The Aramean people (not to be confused with ‘Armenians’) speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Abraham, Moses and Jesus, through which they have made a very important contribution to world civilizations.  This ancient Semitic people, now divided into several denominations and spread throughout the Middle East, amount to approximately 8 million people worldwide. In Turkey there are approximately 20.000 Arameans of which 2.000 still are living in Tur Abdin.
It is scientifically undisputed that the area of Upper- Mesopotamia always has been inhabited by the Arameans of Aram-Naharaim; which is a part of the Biblical Paddan-Aram, where great Biblical figures like Abraham and Jacob once lived and walked. This part of the world bears our name and we gave rise to a very rich, ancient heritage which is we believe not only our heritage, but the heritage of mankind as well. Yet contrary to others our people never made any territorial claims or aspirations, as other nations have done, by means of violent uprising.
On the contrary, our nation instead has tried to live in peace, respect and dignity with everybody in the Middle East; and always respected the law of the countries in which they reside. They show others the example of love and brotherhood. Their motto has always been: loving and respecting your neighbour like yourself!
If one looks for example at the history of Turkey whether during the time of Republic or throughout the era of Ottoman Empire, it will undisputedly became crystal clear that the Aramean nation, in Turkey known as “Suryaniler”, were always faithful citizens and never resorted to the path of intolerance, fanaticism and violent uprising.
Unfortunately this Aramean policy of respect and brotherhood has not been rewarded nor appreciated by Turkey, for they are not recognized as a distinct ethnic minority which practically means they are outlawed. This prevents them from attaining their minimum fundamental social, cultural and political rights.
Instead of respecting and honoring the peaceful-minded Arameans, they have been unfortunately continuously ignored, marginalized, excluded, persecuted and discriminated against. Instead of nourishing the rich Aramean heritage- which certainly would be in the interest of Turkey-, their social, cultural and political rights are completely denied and subordinated. Instead of promoting the education in the Aramaic language, it has always been extremely difficult in Turkey to teach our sacred language for Aramaic is not recognized in Turkey. Consequently, we are slowly being culturally exterminated.
And for these reasons we believe that the languishing law-suits against the Aramean monastery St. Gabriel in Tur Abdin since November 2008 are not an isolated instance; but rather a reflection of the long-standing troublesome history which the Arameans (Aramiler in Turkish) have been faced with.
Given the geopolitical location of Turkey, we are convinced that the promotion of the Aramean indigenous heritage would not only facilitate a positive atmosphere and mutual understanding between many nations in the Middle-East, but would also be beneficial for Turkey and would put Turkey in the international spotlight as a nation which indeed does care about its small but extremely precious treasures.
And because nothing of these noble goals have ever materialized, or have even been discussed, and the Aramean indigenous nation of Turkey has been the victim of continues misfortunes for centuries, some individuals, being manipulated by colonial machinations of 16th and 19th centuries, use this as an excuse to taunt Turkey. They promote strange identities invented by outsiders who were unaware of the well-documented history (yet unknown to the general public) of the precious Aramean Cultural Hidden Pearl  which has been maintained and preserved for thousands of years in the cradle of the Aramean forefathers.
And all this, your Excellencies, is neither in the interests of the peaceful minded Aramean indigenous nation, who in some media are referred to as “Assyrians” or Chaldeans, nor in the interests of Turkey.
Therefore, to preserve, maintain and promote the genuine Aramean heritage, to defend their fundamental social, cultural and human rights in Turkey, to avoid new cases like that of St. Gabriel, and to do justice to our rich and peaceful history, we wish to conclude this letter by requesting of your Excellencies the following:
1. On the 13th of September 2007 the General Assembly of United Nations adopted the resolution 61/295: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We are happy that Turkey was among the 144 nations who voted in favor of this declaration.
It would however greatly benefit both our people, and adorn Turkey to bring this resolution into practice by recognizing the Aramean nation in Turkey as the indigenous people of Aram-Nahrin. Such a step by Turkey would not only serve as an evidence of improved human rights situation, but also as a shining example to the entire Middle-East. In addition, this would signal to the European Union that Turkey do care and nourish its precious cultural treasures, and would also strengthen the position of Turkey in accession to the European Union.
2. Article 26 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples reads:
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the
lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned,
occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
And these lands your Excellencies have been for thousands of years inhabited by the Aramean indigenous nation. If Turkey simply would have applied article 26 of the United Nations Declaration On the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, all these law-suits would have been unnecessary.
Therefore unless our people are recognized as indigenous people of Turkey, we fear that more situations like St. Gabriel will follow soon or late. And this will certainly neither be beneficial to Turkey nor to the Aramean nation.
For this reason, we hope that Turkey will meet its commitment in implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Such a step would clearly signal to the international community that the promotion of Human Rights is not a empty exercise and a rhetorical standpoint but rather a practical implementation of substantial matters bearing fruits in the form of:
- Facilitating conditions and mechanisms to encourage Diaspora Arameans to return to the lands of their forefathers.
- Readdressing the Aramean losses in the form of land, homes, cultural/sacred /architectural buildings and other properties.
- Restoration of Aramaic names for the Aramean villages.
- Active promotion of the Aramean heritage through opening of Departments of Arameaology in major Universities in Turkey etc...
We finally want to underscore to your Excellencies that these requested actions, which are both logical and necessary, are not concessions, but are only small measures towards improving the situation for the Aramean indigenous people, who have suffered greatly throughout history.
 This is well-summarized by world- renowned Eminent Oxford University Scholar Professor Sebastian Brock, a specialist on Aramaic (Syriac) and Hebrew, who said “Almost all societies are dependent upon the use of writing, but very few peoples realise that the great majority of the world’s scripts can be traced back to a common ancestor, an alphabet invented in the Middle East four thousands years ago, which was subsequently refined by the Phoenicians and the Aramaeans who spread it throughout the known world. It is thus without doubt one of the greatest gifts of the Aramean peoples to world culture.” (Hidden Pearl volume I: Page 27) … Nevertheless it is undeniable that the simple Aramaic alphabet of 22 letters has had the most extraordinary impact on the development of alphabetic writing systems throughout the world. Indeed, it is very hard to imagine how human culture and scientific learning could have progressed without (the Aramaic language).” (Hidden Pearl volume I: Page 58)
 In ancient times ‘Mesopotamia’ was called Aram-Nahrin in Aramaic and Aram-Naharaim in Hebrew. More about this: http://www.aramnahrin.org/English/Aramnaharaim.htm
 The Hidden Pearl: http://www.aramnaharaim.org/English/film_arameans.htm
Copyright © Aram-Naharaim Organization. All rights reserved.
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20-5-2009: Aramean Organizations sent a letter to the President and Prime Minister of Turkey on the Aramean Monastery St. Gabriel and recognition of the Aramean indigenous people as a distinct ethnic minority.