As the following report from Middle East Concern shows, recent events at the trial of the five men charged with the April 2007 murder of Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske, at the Zirve Christian publishing house in Malatya, Turkey have confirmed fears that those behind the killings will ever be identified and the structural injustices that cause Turkish Christians to be viewed as enemies of the state will continue.
The trial continues of the five men charged with the murder of three Christians, Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske, at the Zirve Christian publishing house in Malatya, Eastern Turkey, in April 2007. The five men, aged 19 and 20 at the time, were arrested at the scene and have been held in custody ever since. Their trial opened in November 2007.
The most recent hearing took place on 17th July. The most notable feature was the non-appearance of two witnesses despite court orders requiring their attendance and testimony.
One of them, a journalist, is being detained by the gendarmerie, who claimed that he couldn't attend as he was recovering from medical treatment. The gendarmerie had failed to bring him to the previous hearing on the pretext of having insufficient funds to cover the transportation costs, though he made similar journeys for his medical treatment.
The other witness who failed to appear, the girl friend of one of the perpetrators, claimed she had not been able to prepare to give witness due to her university studies. The prosecution noted in court that universities are not in session and requested that the court find her guilty of not fulfilling her duty to appear.
This turn of events has further undermined the hopes of Turkish Christians that those behind the three murders will be identified and brought to justice. The concern of Christians is not only for justice concerning the murders, but also for effective challenge to the wider structural injustice whereby Christians are regarded as potential enemies within the state. Recall that compensation claims lodged by the two widows, Semse and Suzanne, in September 2008 cite various government ministries as having (i) failed to detect the plot and prevent the murders, and (ii) created a culture conducive to violence against Christians because religious minorities are presented as "an internal threat, a danger and an enemy". These claims remain outstanding.
The next hearing is scheduled for 21st August and both witnesses have again been ordered to attend and testify.
Turkish Christians request our continued prayers that:
a. Family members and close friends of the victims will know the presence and enabling of Jesus throughout the trial process
b. The two witnesses will attend the 21st August hearing, and that there will be no further undue delays to the trial process
c. Justice will be done concerning the perpetrators, and that those behind them will be identified
d. Semse and Suzanne's legal team will know the Spirit's enabling, guiding and equipping
e. A positive outcome in this case and the compensation claim cases will in turn be instrumental in improving religious tolerance throughout Turkey
f. There would be renewed international attention towards this trial
g. The five perpetrators would feel a true and deep conviction about what they have done, and understand that their wrong-doing is not too great for Christ's forgiveness
h. The judges, other officials, lawyers and journalists involved will hear the gospel of Jesus, feel the Spirit's conviction of sin and be drawn to the Father's love, forgiveness and acceptance
We would invite you to post a prayer regarding one of these requests from Turkey on our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.
Earlier this year, a powerful video entitled Malatya was released, telling the incredible story of three men willing to give up their lives to share the gospel with Muslims, and the fruit that has grown up from their sacrifice. You can order a copy from The Voice of the Martyrs for only $13.00 (plus shipping).