Monday, November 28, 2011

Attacks on missionaries continue, journalist says

After years of trials, investigations, media reports and countless allegations, a case into the notorious torture and murder of three missionaries in Malatya has yet to reach any satisfactory conclusion. A recent book on the subject, however, seeks to cut through the conjecture to shed important light on the background and details of the massacre.

Written by journalist İsmail Saymaz, “Hatred” (Nefret) examines the connections between Turkey’s extreme and almost “paranoid” measures toward missionary activities and the number of attacks against missionaries and churches in recent years.

Starting with the 1999 earthquake, in which more than 17,000 people lost their lives, Saymaz’s book demonstrates how certain media outlets and politicians claimed that the tragic disaster was being used for missionary propaganda.

“During the four years following the quake, 293 people, who were either opening churches or distributing the Bible, were sent to legal authorities for criminal acts,” Saymaz wrote in his book.

Just 54 people were identified as missionaries in Turkey in 2000, but Turkey’s National Security Council (MGK) subsequently took up the issue on the grounds that such activities posed a major threat to the country.

“After the MGK [declared] missionaries as a national threat, the police raided several Protestant churches with guns in those years. Turkey’s Intelligence Service counted missionary acts as a second-degree religious threat. Many missionaries were followed by the police or gendarmerie. Turkey’s Religious Affairs [Directorate] distributed millions of Qurans with the support of politicians and the media. A common enemy was created through common action,” Saymaz told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview last week.

Malatya murders

“Hatred” focuses on the Malatya massacre, in which three missionaries, German citizen Tillman Geske and two Turks, Necati Aydın and Uğur Yüksel, were tied up and tortured before having their throats slit at the Zirve Publishing House, a Christian publisher, in the eastern province of Malatya on April 18, 2007.

Five young men, aged 19 and 20 at the time of the killings, confessed to the murder and were arrested for the crime. However, authorities are continuing to investigate the matter, which is believed by many to be an act of the “deep state” rather than a group of independent fanatics.

Saymaz reported the claims that one of the suspects, Emre Günaydın, may have been working with the police at the time. According to the testimony of other suspects, Günaydın had certain connections with police officers, the book said.

Another important finding of the book of the book is the revelation that police found a gun on Günaydın the day before the murders. Although that gun was seized by the police, they did not search his car, which allegedly contained two more guns – one of which was allegedly later used in the murder.

“We don’t know what connections Günaydın may have or whether the guns were ever found and not confiscated. But we do know that although the suspects are five young men, this was murder by tacit mandate,” Saymaz said.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Turkish Christians aid earthquake victims - News with a Christian Perspective

A small evangelical church in eastern Turkey is helping victims of two earthquakes who are sleeping in tents around the church.

The city of Van in eastern Turkey became the hub for aid workers and reporters after the Oct. 23 quake, but not all the help is coming from outside Turkey.

Other churches from across Turkey also have sent volunteers to the evangelical church in Van, which is coordinating their efforts in food distribution and medical care.

People by the dozens gather at the church daily. Believers feed them and share Christ's love.

"There aren't many of us, and we are tired," a member of the Van church said, "but we are doing all we can.

"They see the love and they are able to hear why we do this."

Among the quake victims: Fatma and her family, who are homeless and sockless. The refugees from Afghanistan had just moved into new housing when a 7.2-magnitude earthquake occurred Oct. 23 in eastern Turkey, killing about 600 people.

Fatma said she hasn't felt safe since. Neither do the others who share an open lot with her, living in tents between damaged buildings.

It's hard to blame them. Fear is rampant. Dozens of aftershocks shake the ground daily. The area sits on several major faults. Many people lost family and friends in the quake.

Survivors sleep in tents in sub-freezing weather without proper clothing. They run the risk of bronchitis -- and worse -- from the cold as well as the smoky fires lit inside their tents for warmth.

Some buildings still standing could crumble at any moment. Others are safe, but officials can't coax people back into them.

That task will be even harder now that a second tremor, a 5.6 magnitude, took down 25 weakened buildings on Nov. 9, just 17 days after the first quake.

Baptist Press - Turkish Christians aid earthquake victims - News with a Christian Perspective

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Turkey's minorities still skeptical about new constitution - Hurriyet Daily News

There are great expectations in the government camp as the process for the preparation of a new constitution is under way, but some members of the minorities voice their concerns about the new charter.

Representatives of Turkey’s various minority communities have expressed skepticism regarding ongoing efforts to draft a new constitution for the country.

“Considering the current political conditions in Turkey, I do not believe the new constitution will be an egalitarian one that embraces all sections of society,” Arev Cebeci, a Turkish-Armenian who became a candidate nominee for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the most recent election, recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.

If a new constitution is drafted, then it will be the first time such a text will be produced in a democratic milieu since the establishment of the founding constitution of 1924. Other previous constitutions were written in the wake of military coups in 1961 and 1980.

Despite all the pessimism and lukewarm attitude toward the new constitution, however, certain members of the Anatolian Greek and Bulgarian minorities remain hopeful.

“The new constitution is being prepared in goodwill. I have no doubts about this. I am certain this will be an egalitarian and successful constitution,” Dimitri Zotos, one of the managers of the Anatolian Greek Foundations Association (RUMVADER), told the Daily News.

“We expect freedom and democracy. Of course, everything will not be flawless, but the idea of a new constitution is a positive idea. The work is hope-inspiring,” Lüben Chalmov of the Bulgarian Community Council told the Daily News.

Turkey's minorities still skeptical about new constitution - Hurriyet Daily News