09/08/2008, 00.00
TURKEY

Army followed and recorded movements of Christian missionaries in Turkey

by NAT da Polis
The revelations, made by a newspaper, highlight the reports by military agents on the activities of all the Christian Churches. Meanwhile, there is tension over the visit to prison by the head of the military district of Koaceli, to the generals detained over the Ergenekon affair.

Ankara (AsiaNews) - The front pages of the newspapers continue to be dominated by two events, both related to the Ergenekon (clandestine Turkish paramilitary group) affair. The reports reveal how the Turkish army followed all of the movements of Christian missionaries in Turkey, and the visit made by the head of the military district of Koaceli, on the orders of the defense chief, to the men detained over the Ergenekon affair.

The newspaper Radikal has made important revelations, at the 53rd anniversary of the famous pogrom against the Orthodox community in Istanbul, which began the definitive "cleansing" of this community (in reality, it had its origins at the beginning of the 20th century, and was carried out during the 1920's, '30's, and '40's, with various methods). Today, the community has been reduced to 3,000, with an average age of 60. The same factors have influenced the Catholic community. These revelations have brought to light reports drafted by the armed forces of the Aegean, which took on the task of following and recording all of the movements of Christian missionaries in Turkey, in seven of the nine regions under its jurisdiction, including Istanbul, Izmir, and Samsun. The reports contain a detailed daily account of the movements of the missionaries, and in the various Christian Churches.

In a report signed with the initials of a lieutenant colonel, all of the movements in the Kurtulus Catholic Church in Ankara are recorded, demonstrating that all of the churches and missions were under close surveillance by army intelligence.

So all of the movements of Christian missionaries were recorded in those regions, and there was aggression toward them and their churches. The victims of this violence include Kiamil Kyroglu, head of the Protestant church in Adana, in 2005; Adriano Francini, in Smyrna, in 2007, and Fr. Santoro, killed in Trabzon in 2006. All of the attackers arrested in these cases were underage or psychopathic.

In order to make an ironic description of the zeal of the intelligence agents toward Christian minorities, the same newspaper highlights an event that took place in Smyrna in 2005, when ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew, viewed as the greatest threat, attended a concert there. In that case, the agents recorded every aspect of the concert, even making detailed mention of the flute soloist. The comment of the patriarchate in this regard is laconic: "we have nothing to hide".

And precisely in the light of these events, there is a great deal of concern over the visit made, on the order of the defense chief, by the head of the military district of Koaceli, General Galip Menti, to the two retired generals Tolon and Eruigur, imprisoned in Kadira over the Ergenekon affair. There has been a variety of comments over the visit. Erdogan has described it as purely humanitarian, while the opposition parties CHP and MHP have expressed their satisfaction with the visit, which according to them was a long time in coming. Some of the intellectuals, and most of the newspapers, are expressing a contrary view, considering it interference with the process of justice: the army seems to be saying that it still has a hand in managing political affairs in Turkey.

Just a few days ago, at his inaugural address the new head of the army said that foreign countries should not be trusted in Turkey's fight against terrorism, and that the United States and the European Union instead have a concealed plan to dismember Turkey.

Significant in this regard is the analysis made by the authoritative newspaper Hurriet, according to which this visit was intended to transmit a message. The newspaper notes that: 1) the news of the visit was published on the website of the armed forces, which in this way expressed its solidarity and protection toward those who have served in the army; 2) the visit had the approval of the leadership of the armed forces; 3) in its statement, the armed forces expressed its trust in the judiciary, and declared that it does not intend to influence its decisions; 4) authorization for the visit was requested from the judiciary, and General Galip Menti made the visit in civilian clothing.

In short, the struggle continues between the AKP end the armed forces.

But the latest surveys, conducted after the court decision declining to shut down the AKP, and published by Turkish Daily News, see a reinforcement of the positions of the Islamic AKP party, with 50.9% supporting it, while 9.5% support the CHP (of Kemalist origin), 6.6% the MHP (ultranationalist) and 2.7% the DTP (pro-Kurdish). In another survey, published by Today's Zaman, controlled by Fetulah Gulen, 67% of Turks say they are in favor of their country joining the European Union. As for the shutdown of the DTP, the pro-Kurdish party represented in the Turkish parliament, 57.6% say they are against it being disbanded, while 31.2% are in favor and 11.3% expressed no opinion. Finally, 77.9% approve of President Gul.

Finally, there is a rather curious and unique fact for Turkey. The historic visit of Gul to Erevan was supported by 60% of Turks - and by Bush - and protested by the opposition. But during and after the game against Armenia, that ended with a win for Turkey, there was not even a whisper of celebration. Orders from above?

Printable version
CLOSE X
See also
EU Commissioner says Turkey's entry will end European integration
08/09/2004
Brussels to decide Turkish bid to join EU
16/12/2004
Saving the monastery of Mor Gabriel, to guarantee a multicultural Turkey
26/01/2009
EU's Cyprus demand dismays Turkey
17/12/2004
EU accuses China of greater trade protectionism
03/09/2009