|Washington, D.C.- Turkey has arrested Syriac Orthodox monk, Father Aho, on fraudulent charges of treason.
On Thursday evening, January 9, Turkish anti-terror security forces raided Saint Yakoub d’Qarno, a Syriac Orthodox Monastery, in Turabdin, Southeastern Turkey. They searched the monastery and arrested the caretaker, Father Aho Bilicen, charging him with the unsubstantiated claim that he provided bread and water to a member of the PKK Kurdish party. The PKK has a known history of extorting local populations of basic necessities wherever they operate.
Yakoub d’Quarno monastery had been closed for over twenty years due to the incessant conflict between Turkish security forces and Kurdish PKK fighters in the region. Due to the self-sacrificial work of Father Aho, the monastery was able to open again in 2013 and is reported to have served tens of thousands of visitors since its reopening.
IDC calls on the Turkish government to immediately release Father Aho.
IDC President Toufic Baaklini has said, “IDC will relentlessly raise the case of Father Aho’s unjust imprisonment to the highest levels of the Trump administration and will recommend that failure to release him should trigger sanctions similar to those used in the case of Pastor Andrew Brunson.”