Eastern Turkey had an extensive and flourishing network of Christians barely 100 years back, however from that point forward most have been scattered or murdered. The BBC’s Eli Melki went to search for hints of a relative, who was martyred at 33 years old.
One night in June, I sat in the nightfall among the Roman vestiges of Zirzawan slope, in south-east Turkey. This is the place it’s said the remaining parts of one of my progenitors are covered in a mass grave. Leonard Melki was around 33 years of age toward the start of World War One, and his destiny was controlled by his Christian confidence.
Around then, between a fifth and a fourth of the occupants of eastern Turkey – at that point some portion of the Ottoman Empire – had a place with a variety of Eastern divisions of the Christian Church, including the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syriac Church, the Church of the East (Nestorians) and the Chaldean Church.
Leonard Melki’s beatification started in 2005
All aside from the Armenians loved in Syriac – a vernacular of Aramaic, the dialect of Christ.
They lived among the realm’s Muslim lion’s share and, while many flourished, at a few times and in a few spots they were liable to by and large oppression; in World War One, it went far, a long ways past that.
Leonard, my extraordinary granddad’s cousin, was brought into the world an individual from one of the Eastern houses of worship – the Maronites – however later turned into a Capuchin minister, and in his mid-20s he was sent to run the request’s school in the city of Mardin, near what is currently the fringe among Turkey and Syria.
Now Christians spoke to somewhere in the range of 35% and 40% of Mardin’s occupants. The Capuchin religious community, where Leonard instructed young men the basics of the Christian confidence, remained close by a Franciscan cloister in a noticeable position in the downtown area.
To discover increasingly about Leonard, I addressed his extraordinary nephew, Fares Melki, who has set up a site committed to Leonard and different preachers from Baabdat, the residential community close Beirut where we were both conceived. As we sat under our family oak tree, he revealed to me that Leonard was conceived Yusuf (Joseph in Arabic) in around 1881, one of 11 youngsters. As a kid he would have worked the land around where we were sitting.
Charges demonstrated to me some yellowed letters and photos Leonard sent to relatives and to his bosses. They uncover a young fellow committed to his confidence, connected to his sister Tamar, and energetic – regardless of issues with his wellbeing – to set out on a mission 1,000km from his pleasant and prosperous home in Mount Lebanon.
In one letter, written in 1912, he expounded on youthful Muslim men from Mardin being sent to battle in the Balkan Wars.
“Poor spirits, I feel sorry for them. They are walking like sheep to the butcher, inadequately prepared and prepared, yet showing a honorable valor in spite of, all things considered, Lacking everything – even bread – they wind up by crushing everything and threatening individuals wherever they set foot. May God put a conclusion to this hopelessness, and allow harmony and serenity to the land.”
In any case, not long thereafter, World War One did the inverse, and the patriot Young Turks at that point responsible for the Ottoman Empire started to fear a conceivable collusion between the nearby Christian populaces and Russia, which had rapidly gone into all out attack mode.