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Church Attacked and Desecrated in Eastern Turkey

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on May 11, 2021, it was discovered that Marta Shimoni Church in Turkey’s village of Mehr was attacked and desecrated by unknown persons. This is the same village where the elderly parents of a Chaldean Catholic priest were kidnapped last year. The wife, Simoni Diril, was later found deceased. Her husband, Hormoz Diril, remains missing.

Marta Shimoni is a cave church built into the mountains, and thus cannot be destroyed in the same way as other churches. Video footage obtained by ICC shows that the destruction was primarily against the Christian items and relics inside the church. Crosses, pictures of Jesus, and rosaries were strewn across the path leading away from the mountain church’s entrance.

The village of Mehr was primarily Chaldean Christian before surrounding conflict forced its evacuation in the early the 1990s. Eleven years ago, the Diril couple had returned to the village, despite the dangers, in an attempt to rebuild the Christian presence. They were the first to return, and often celebrated mass at Marta Shimoni. The church, who is named after a local Christian martyred for her faith, stands as a historic reminder of the village’s Christian past. Sadly, Simoni Diril was found deceased on March 20, 2020, two months after her kidnapping. The fate of Hormoz Diril is unknown and the search continues.

Attorney Orhan Kemal Cengiz shared with ICC, “As the lawyer for Diril family, my main concern for the time being is to get the prosecutor to open a case against the perpetrators in the abduction of the Diril couple, which ended with the murder of Mrs. Diril. Mr. Diril is still missing. I have delivered more than a dozen petitions to the prosecutor so far, to urge him to look at the matter from different angles, as well as calling him to deliver his indictment as soon as possible.”


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