Turkey: Active Christians are undesirable in Turkey

The ISHR is deeply disturbed that active Christians are now undesirable in Erdogan’s Turkey

The latest invasion of Syria by Turkey and Islamist militias associated with it has been associated with outrageous human rights violations; in particular the expulsion of Kurds, Christians and Yazidis. But what the rest of the world has failed to notice, is that government of Turkey under Erdoğan, has been quietly “cleansing” Turkey of Christians and other minorities. The ISHR has been watching with deep dismay, the expulsions and entry bans for committed Christians in Turkey, which are becoming increasingly widespread.

Martin Lessenthin (middle); on his left Michael Brandt, MP, Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the CDU/CSU in the German Parliament © ISHR Germany

Martin Lessenthin (middle); on his left Michael Brandt, MP, Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the CDU/CSU in the German Parliament © ISHR Germany

Since the beginning of 2019, a total of 25 persons have already been expelled, who are unofficially portrayed as a threat to national security. In addition there are spouses and other family members, so that this year alone 60 to 70 people have already become victims of this policy. The victims are foreigners, some of whom settled in Turkey decades ago and who are considered particularly active in their Turkish communities. They come from Germany, Great Britain, Finland, USA, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. Most of those affected learned of their expulsion on leaving the country, some only on re-entry.

“Freedom of religion, including the right to mission, is guaranteed by Turkish law. Expulsion of missionary believers is illegal. The accusations that those affected are threats to public safety are ridiculous and outrageous”.

The expellees are integrated in Turkey. Most of them lived and worked in the greater Istanbul area, Ankara and Izmir. They have families and jobs there, own houses or have children in education. They have never been to blame for anything, are partly even employers for locals. The expellees are also banned from entering the country. The Turkish government does not provide a written explanation as to why the persons concerned suddenly pose a threat and are assigned the code “N-82” or “G-82”, which effectively acts as an entry ban. A number of deported Christians have filed complaints against this order of the authorities.

The ISHR believes that it is necessary that representatives of the Federal Government of Germany observe these court proceedings, and send representatives of the embassy and consulate to the court hearings. The Foreign Office should demand explanations from the Turkish government as to why the code N-82 or G-82 is used. The series of expulsions began in July 2017 and has reached its peak in 2019. There is no common ground among these expelled persons, except that they are all Protestant Christians, who are active in church life and/or active in evangelism.

To this end, it is the view of the ISHR that despite claims to the contrary by the Turkish government, all religious minorities in Turkey are discriminated against in many ways. This applies to Alawites, Yazidi, Syrian Orthodox and Armenian Christians. Erdoğan’s pursues the goal of consolidating power in the country and beyond the national borders. Minority protection is Erdoğan’s view, a sign of weakness.

Martin Lessenthin, Spokesman of the Board, ISHR Germany