2018 Human Rights Violation Monitoring Report was published by the Protestant Churches’ Association on 20.02.2019. The report of 9 pages which is being published since 2007 shows the state of the Protestant community in Turkey.
The report consists of sections such as ‘Hate Crimes, Oral and Physical Attacks’, ‘Problems about Worship Places’, ‘Right of Spreading the Faith’, ‘Problems in Education and Compulsory Religion Classes’, ‘Religious Officers’ Education and Problems Related to the Foreign Protestant Nationals’, ‘Andrew Brunson Case’, ‘Legal Entity Problmems’, ‘The Obligation of Expression of Faith’, ‘Discrimination’, ‘Press and Hate Speech’, ‘Dialoueg’ and ‘Recommendations’.
The Andrew Brunson case was one of the most noticeable titles in the report. In the section the Resurrection Church Pastor Andrew Brunson’s detention and litigation process were discussed.
On the second page of the report, under the title of Background, Introduction and Summary, basic information about the Association of Protestant Churches is given.
Under the title of Hate Crimes, Discourses, Oral and Physical Assaults, it is reported that Diyarbakır Church Pastor Ahmet Güvener received phone calls for blasphemy and insult; and also the signboard of the Mardin Protestant Church has been broken. During 2018 Christmas period the communities faced some opposing campaigns.
Under the title of Problems about places of worship, it was pointed out that the problems such as establishing a place of worship, which is an important sign of the freedom of belief, has been an ongoing problem for the Protestant society in 2018. In addition, it is reported that most of the 150 Protestant churches are using historical buildings, among them only 10 are official church buildings.
Under the title of Problems in Education and Compulsory Religion Classes, it is stated that in 2018 no cases were reported related to the Religious Culture and Moral Knowledge classes the and the right to exemption.
Under the title of Religious Officers’ Education and Problems Related to the Foreign Protestant Nationals,it is stated that the existing legislation in Turkey is not allowing the opening of schools to provide religious education in order to train Christian clergy or members of the congregation. It is also reported that some foreign clergy and community members faced deportation, not being permitted to enter Turkey and refusal of visa and residence permit.
Under the title Andrew Brunson Case, it is reported that Pastor Brunson’s case is followed with great sorrow and concern by the Protestant society, for such a man who lived in Turkey for about 25 years with no criminal record and detained for suck a long period with false witnesses’ allegations.
Under the title of Legal Entity Problems, it is reported that all religious groups in Turkey, particularly the minority religious groups have the problem of obtaining legal entity. It was noted that the Protestant community continued to try to solve this problem mainly by establishing associations or by being the representative of an established association.
Under the title ofThe Obligation of Expression of Faithit is stated that on the new national ID Cards the religion of the citizens are not seen anymore on the surface of the document, but it is registered in the electronic chip. This has been considered as a very positive step. However, it was emphasized that the religion should be removed completely from the records.
Under the title of Press and Hate Speech, it was announced that in 2018 there was a large increase in the publications containing hate speech especially against Pastor Andrew Brunson case. It was noted that these publications caused a serious concern in the Protestant community, as they were similar to the publications before the 2007 Malatya Zirve Publishing House Massacre. National and local media published the pictures of many churches or persons, false secret witness claims were published as they were true, the right of correction and response to these claims, which is a constitutional right is not given by these media organizations.
Under the title of Dialogue, it is stated that in 2018, the Protestant community / church representatives were not invited to the meetings where religious groups were invited by the Government or by official institutions. In spite of all these, it was stated that Protestant society continued to give importance to the development of relations with all public institutions, especially the Government, Parliament and municipalities.
Finally, under the title of Recommendations, opinions and suggestions were presented to correct the ongoing situations. (TEK- The Protestant Churches’ Association in Turkey)