Displaying items by tag: Turkey
It is estimated there are over 18,000 Grey Wolves in Germany, five times more than the number of members of Germany’s neo-Nazi party. The Grey Wolves movement is a Turkish version of Aryanism opposed to anyone who is not Turkish or Sunni Islamic. It is anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-American, anti-Armenian, anti-Kurdish and anti-Greek. Its objective is to establish a new world order based on Islam and led by Turkey. Members are opposed to the assimilation or integration of Turkish immigrants into Western society, and its supporters are responsible for a large number of murdered political opponents and members of minorities in Turkey and abroad. Germany’s Christian Democratic Union is working with this group, although it preaches that right-wing extremism is the greatest danger in Germany. Associations linked to Grey Wolves strive for a moderate appearance in their external presentation and tend to cultivate their right-wing extremist ideology internally.
Armenian-Lebanese Vicken Euljekjian, a civilian prisoner of war captured when Azerbaijan invaded Nagorno-Karabakh and seized new territory, has been indicted on three counts: participation as a mercenary in a military conflict, committing terrorism, and illegally crossing into Azerbaijan. These charges are falsely leveled against Euljekjian. They are part of the joint attempt by Azerbaijan and Turkey to justify their genocidal actions in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan invaded Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2020, with the support of Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries. The brutality of the invasion demonstrated an intent of ethnic-religious cleansing towards Karabakh’s Armenian Christian community, whose presence in the region predates the Islamic Turkish presence.
In 1915 two million Armenians lived in Turkey; today there are fewer than 60,000. Successive regimes deny that there was such a thing as an Armenian genocide. Turkey now appears intent on reigniting the hatred by helping Azerbaijan wage war on Armenia in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, which erupted into armed conflict in late 2020. Turkish mercenaries and their Azerbaijani partners have ISIS-like behavior. They tortured beyond recognition an intellectually disabled 58-year-old Armenian woman before murdering her. Her family identified her by her clothes. When a random pedestrian was asked, ‘If you could get away with one thing, what would you do?’ She looked at the video camera and smiled saying, ‘What would I do? Behead twenty Armenians.’ 24 April was Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, marking the start of the period in which Ottoman Turks massacred 1.5 million Armenians during World War I. On 27 April that Turkey said relations with the US had sunk to a new low after Joe Biden formally acknowledged that Armenians suffered genocide 100 years ago.
A Turkish court sentenced Syriac priest Father Sefer to two years and one month in prison on terrorism-related charges. This sentence comes just over a year after Father Bileçen was detained alongside twelve others on the charges of aiding the PKK, an internationally recognised terrorist organisation. Father Bileçen said, ‘Two members of the organisation came to the monastery asking for food, and I gave it. It was detected afterwards, and the gendarmerie commander met me through the metropolitan bishop. I did not deny it. I wanted security measures to be taken so that this would not happen again. But no security measures were taken.’ Nevertheless he thought the case was closed. Christians in rural Turkey are caught in the middle of the Turkey-PKK conflict and no matter how they respond - they lose. Religious charity is being criminalised.
Pastor Michael travelled to Turkey in 1999 as a relief worker, following the devastating earthquake that killed 17,000 people. He and his family settled there, and he has been pastor of Yalova Lighthouse Church since 2003. Earlier in February he was detained by the authorities and held for 30 hours, then given ten days to leave the country, an order deferred while his case proceeds. An appeal against the deportation order is to be heard in Ankara. Since 2019, about 70 overseas Christian leaders have been similarly expelled from Turkey as ‘threats to national security’. Hostility towards Christians has worsened as secularism gives way to Islam with the rise of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Its founder, President Erdogan, is outspoken about his desire to recreate the Ottoman Empire.
International Christian Concern (ICC) has observed a marked increase of reported religious freedom violations within Turkey since the start of the New Year. While most of these recent violations impact church buildings, they also include a lack of interest by the authorities in pursuing and protecting justice for Christian victims. Churches are seen as a source of income both by the government (faith tourism) and by society (treasure hunters). Otherwise, church buildings are neglected by the government and often turned into mosques. Pray for the protection and perseverance of believers in Turkey. Pray that the government will honor Christian landmarks and churches.
Greece and Turkey were on the verge of military confrontation last August, after Turkey launched its seismic survey ship and a small naval fleet to explore for undersea oil and gas in Eastern Mediterranean waters which Greece claims as part of its exclusion zone, but Turkey disputes this. Although these zones do not entail the absolute sovereignty that territorial waters do, they give countries rights of exploration and exploitation of mineral and living resources. Last week, Greece doubled the extent of its western territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to twelve nautical miles - the maximum allowed by the UN. The possibility of conflict has alarmed both NATO, of which Greece and Turkey are members, and the EU. However, on 25 January Greece and Turkey announced they will begin exploratory talks in Istanbul, with the aim of setting maritime boundaries.
Last week we prayed for change and the need for reforms to alter the way Turkey polices, prosecutes, judges, and imprisons its residents. Almost all Kurdish mayors have been replaced by government-appointed administrators. Judges whose verdicts disagree with government diktats are probed and often punished. 63,014 people were prosecuted for insulting President Erdoğan between 2014 and 2019; 9,554 of them were sentenced. A political analyst said Erdoğan's reform program survived only nine days, and his charm offensive is fake and is too little too late. He wants Turkey to continue as a third-world democracy while hoping to lure foreign investment on the same terms as a Western democracy, but investors are leaving. The economy is in freefall, with double-digit inflation and central bank interest rates up to 15%, while unemployment rises sharply. Erdogan promises to democratise, hoping to reverse the economic downfall, but that will not happen without real reforms.
The police forces in Turkey’s Kurdish region resemble occupying armies. Government-appointed mayors, police brutality and armies of imams have altered society’s fabric. Allegations against Special Forces of rape and sexual harassment are ignored. If such accusations are publicised, officials will dismiss it as affairs between soldiers and girls who want to marry them. A former mayor commented, ‘It is better that they are involved in prostitution than protesting the government.’ A young Kurd who photographed a policeman killing an innocent Kurd in 2017 now faces twenty years in prison, while the policeman goes unpunished. Also recently hundreds of army officers, pilots and civilians were jailed for life for taking part in the 2016 attempted coup to overthrow President Erdoğan. The acquittal of the police officer and the hundreds jailed comes when Erdogan is trying to attract foreign investors. Even the simplest reforms would demand drastically altering the way Turkey polices, prosecutes, judges, and imprisons its residents. See
An earthquake in the Aegean Sea on 30 October has so far killed 107 people in Turkey and Samos. It is not yet clear on how many people are still under the rubble of 20 Turkish buildings; 144 survivors are still in hospital and over 1,000 people were injured in Turkey. A ‘mini tsunami’ flooded streets in Turkey and Samos. Four days after being buried alive a young girl called Ayda was pulled from the rubble. As she was being taken to an ambulance, wrapped in a thermal blanket, everyone clapped and chanted ‘God is great’. Her rescue came a day after a three-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl were also pulled out alive from collapsed buildings. Pray for those still waiting for news of lost relatives - and for any more still alive to be found.