Turkey's missionary killings overlooked: lawyer

Turkey's missionary killings overlooked: lawyer

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkeys missionary killings overlooked: lawyer

The Zirve massacre case has deeper ties to Turkey’s ongoing coup plot cases, yet it has been undermined by the judiciary officials, Lawyer Erdal Doğan says. AA photo

The lawyer for the families of victims of the Malatya massacre, in which three Christian missionaries were killed in 2007, has expressed frustration just days before the case’s 40th hearing at judicial authorities’ inability to link a series of murders against Christians to each other.

“The massacre is directly related to Turkey’s ongoing coup plot cases,” lawyer Erdal Doğan recently said, adding that the Hrant Dink murder could have been prevented if enough interest had been shown earlier in plots against Christians.

German citizen Tillman Geske and two Turks, Necati Aydın and Uğur Yüksel, were tied up and tortured before having their throats slit at the Zirve Publishing House, a Christian publisher, in the eastern province of Malatya on April 18, 2007.

Five young men, aged 19 and 20 at the time of the killings, confessed to the murder and were arrested for the crime. However, authorities are continuing to investigate the matter, which is believed by many to be an act of the “deep state” rather than a group of independent fanatics.

“Just before the daily Agos’ editor-in-chief Hrant Dink’s assassination on Jan 19, 2007, Italian priest Andrea Santoro was murdered in Trabzon. The Zirve Publishing House massacre and the murder of Catholic Bishop Luigi Padovese in İskenderun followed those murders. Even though these were all the rings of the same chain, they were presented as individual missionary murders,” Doğan said. 

“Even Hrant Dink was commonly presented to the public as the ‘son of a missionary.’ On the one hand, an anti-Christian agenda was pushed and, on the other, mitigating justification for those murders was created,” he said. 

“When we expressed our opinion on this matter to the court, first they resisted joining the cases files, but then they allowed some reports to be sent to the court,” Doğan said. 

Geske’s family has continued to live in Malatya since the massacre, while one of the other families has moved to the United States, Doğan said. The other family is currently in the neighboring province of Elazığ, but is having problems pursuing the lawsuit because of financial difficulties. 

Doğan also said he had received a letter from a military official, which he considered a “warning” regarding his research on coup-plot cases.