Syriacs, one of the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia, once had the largest population of Christians in the region. However, they now are a small population due to the deportation policies of Turkey and there are reportedly now only around 4,000 Syriacs in the region. The population has also decreased with migration over the years.
In the İdil (Hezex) district of Şırnak in Turkey, the Syriac population has been reduced to 390 households over the past 50 years, and now only three Syriac villages remain in the district.
Seydim Doğankılıç, a 73-year-old villager from the Syriac village Öğündük (Mihidê), recalls the past: “I have been living in this village for 70-73 years: I did not go anywhere else. There was pressure on us. It is not right for someone to deny his/her religion. We did not give up believing in our religion. Who has the right to ask me my ethnicity and religion? I say I am Syriac. Even if they say ‘we will kill you, I will not deny my religion'”.
Doğankılıç stated that they are trying to preserve their culture and teach Syriac to their children: “Our children here and our children in Europe speak Syriac. We teach them and even sometimes, our child know it better than we do”.