For the first time in Turkey, an Assyrian village name has been returned. The name of Alagöz neighborhood in the southeastern district of Midyat, Mardin, has been changed back to Bethkustan
Starting from 1921, the Turkish governments held a state policy to change the names of 30,280 dwelling areas including more than 12,000 villages. The policy affected names in Kurdish, Armenian, Greek, Laz, Assyrian, Circassian and Arabic.
While some Kurdish villages have acquired their original names in the past few years, Bethkustan set the first case for Assyrian.
“It was always Bethkustan for us”
The village name was changed by the municipality upon the request of Akad Association.
“We changed the village sign 7 years ago,” Akad Association Chairman Adem Coşkun said.
“Anyway, nobody called the village with its Turkish name. It was always Bethkustan for us. With the return, we got what we already had and we found themselves.”
With the majority of its inhabitants immigated in the 1960s, the village now houses 20 families. It was reported that 850 families moved to Europe and the U.S. as well as 200 in Syria. Even though there are rumors that some are willing to return, there is yet any families coming.
Claiming that the village was very ancient, Coşkun pointed out Mor Eliyo Church built in the village around AD 34. According to him, Bethkustan meant “Constantine’s Place”.
An example for others
Federation of Assyrian Associations Chairperson Evgil Türker said that the decision will set example for other Assyrian villages.
"There were many Assyrian villages in Turkey’s Turabdin region but now it is only 15. We hope that their names will change one by one."
Midyat District Mayor Şehmus Nasıroğlu said previously that he would form a commission to investigate and return place names to their originals in Kurdish, Mıhallem and Assyrian. (NV/BM)
* Click here to read the article in Turkish.
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