The 2020 report of Protestant Churches association that publishes monitoring reports for the Protestant community in Turkey, is published on 22 February.
This annual report, monitoring reports that reveal the state of the Protestant community, aims to ensure that freedom of belief and opinion serve everyone, everywhere.
In order to contribute to the development of religious freedom in Turkey, some experiences, problems and positive developments that Protestant community have lived in terms of freedom of religion and belief, took place in the 2020 report.
Stating that the historical and sociological information takes place in summary form to people who don’t know about the Turkey Protestants, It is announced that the majority of Turkey’s Protestant community, consists of 182 large and small church communities including from Istanbul and Ankara.
In the face-to-face meetings with Protestant community members in 2020, to the question “When you think about your Protestant Christian identity, what are the most difficult, upsetting and anxious situations in our country?” it was responded as the prejudices experienced in society because of their beliefs, especially descriptions such as traitors, collaborators of foreign powers, agents and so on. Also as humiliation, contempt and disrespect for their beliefs along with those descriptions.
In the published report, it was mentioned that the Covid-19 pandemic, which surrounded the whole world, also negatively affected the Protestant community. It was emphasized that the people most affected by the weekend bans were Christian citizens, since Sunday is the day of worship. The suspension of the activities of 3 churches in Istanbul Esenyurt District within the framework of pandemic measures was also described as alarming.
It was stated that Christian citizens were ignored while taking the decisions, and said, “No circulars and directives have been specified in any of the rules that churches must obey at meetings, requests for information on the subject were not answered and were passed over with a general statement. This situation caused confusion in the churches, ”it was written. However, it was stated as a positive development that church officials could broadcast on internet on Sundays, but it was emphasized that Christians, who were already disadvantaged, experienced an even worse disadvantage during the pandemic period.
It was stated that there was no violation of the restriction of the right to education reported in 2020, the most important reason for this was the increased awareness of Christian students in the National Education system and the schools were mostly closed due to the pandemic.
Churches are Displayed as Criminal
In the 2020 Rights Monitoring Report, according to the problems related to Covid-19 and places of worship, the problem of foreign national Protestants and not being able to train religious officials comes to the fore. By emphasizing that the religious officials serving the protestant community do not have the opportunity to train their own religious officials, an information was shared that due there is no enough protestant religious official, foreign national pastors (Protestant spiritual leader) are serving as spiritual leaders. In the report, “The fact that not allowing The foreign national religious officials that started very intensely in 2019 and continued also in 2020, for their entry to Turkey or pushing them to leave Turkey by not giving visa/residence permit, caused serious problems in the protestant communities that foreign religious officials serve in” statements took place.
In 2020, the cases of deporting foreign national religious officials and community members, not giving permission to entry and residence permit / visa to Turkey, continued to be experienced in a very intense way. In 2020, at least 30 foreign national protestants, 10 from America, 1 from England, 4 from Germany, 3 from Korea , 2 from Moldova, 1 from Norway, 1 from Finland, 1 from Armenia, 3 from Latin America, and 4 others failed to enter to Turkey. Together with the family members, it was announced that this number was over 100. In addition to 35 foreign Protestants who have been exposed to this situation since 2019, 30 people were added in 2020 despite the pandemic conditions.
By saying “These numbers are very serious and the impact is huge for the Protestant community which forms a very small part of the population”, it was emphasized that in 2020, at least one of wives of Turkey citizens in 5 cases where there are mixed marriages, are exposed to this treatment and their family integrity is disrupted. In the report, it was stated that “Our association respects our country’s right to sovereignty, namely the right to decide who will be in our country or not, and considers people being subjected to this treatment for no other reason than being Christians as a major violation of rights and discrimination.”
“Displaying churches like they are committing crimes and people’s lives turned upside-down like it is a crime to attend fully legal meetings, saddens us deeply” said the Protestant Churches Association. Especially considering the victimhood faced by families in the marriages between Turkey citizen and non-citizen people, it was emphasized that an impression that the Protestant community is being a target is given. It was stated that this situation caused a deep concern in the local Protestant community.
The Protestant Community Attaches Importance To The Development Of Relations With All Public Institutions
At the end of his report, important recommendations were made such as respect for freedom of expression and press freedom, problems faced by church associations, awareness raising among local media members, and social media. Referring to the dialogues at the end of the 2020 report, it was stated that the Protestant community / church representatives were not invited to the meetings organized by the government and / or official institutions, and it was written that the Protestant community attaches importance to the development of relations with all public institutions, especially the Government, Parliament and municipalities.
For the details of the report: http://www.protestankiliseler.org/?p=1034