Eighteen months after the Turkish government seized control of the largest Armenian cathedral in the Middle East, secretly taken photographs inside Diyarbakir’s Surp Giragos Armenian Apostolic Church reveal considerable damage to the sanctuary and walls of the now desecrated church in southeast Turkey.
Published by The Armenian Weekly, the exclusive photographs taken this past July expose broken and sandbagged windows, one defaced crucifix, a massive hole poking through one outer wall, the removal of pews and worship utensils, empty altars, and some chipped columns. Only a few up-ended wooden pews can be seen, with no worship utensils or sacramental hangings in sight.
“So the church is really naked,” a source in Diyarbakir told World Watch Monitor.
The cathedral is located in the predominantly Kurdish city’s Sur district, which was heavily demolished in nearly a year of fierce fighting that broke out in late 2015 between the Turkish military and militants of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).