Malatya Massacre: Seven Years Later Justice is Still Waiting "We Won

Malatya Massacre: Seven Years Later Justice is Still Waiting “We Won’t
Forget, We Won’t Let It Be Forgotten”

International Christian Concern

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Media Contact:
William Stark, Regional Manager for Africa
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Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Friday, April 18th
marked the seventh anniversary of the brutal murders of three
Christians at the Zirve Publishing house in Malatya, Turkey. On April
18, 2007, two Turkish men, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, and one
German national, Tillman Geske, were brutally tortured and killed at
the Christian publishing house in eastern Turkey. The five men
responsible for their murders have not been convicted and are
currently out of prison. The trial of the five suspects – Emre
Günaydın, Abuzer Yıldırım, Cuma Ã-zdemir, Hamit Çeker and Salih Gürler
– started November 22, 2007. The five men were caught at the scene of
the crime and have confessed to their role in the murders. The Malatya
killings have been linked to an investigation into an alleged coup
plot that has complicated the proceedings. “In the case the
prosecutors and judges have changed two times,” Umut Sahin, General
Secretary of the Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey, told
ICC. “New defendants have been added to the case, and some of them
have pursued a strategy to extend the case,” Sahin continued. Despite
92 hearings and more than 100,000 pages of court documents, the five
men responsible for the killing of the three Christians have not been
convicted, and, in a remarkable twist, are currently out of prison. A
change to the Turkish legal structure resulted in the five men being
released from prison on March 7, 2014 pending completion of the trial,
Today's Zaman reported. This strange twist has further weakened
the trust of the Turkish Christian community in the justice system.
“Three Christians in Malatya were killed. Three fathers, three men,
three husbands …and today, the number one perpetrators of the
incident,[who were] caught red-handed, with bloody hands, [these]
murderers are on the street,” Gokhan Talas wrote in Agos, a Turkish
newspaper. “I was a little shocked,” Lukas Geske, son of Tilman Geske,
told International Christian Concern (ICC) about hearing that the give
men were released from prison. “But I wasn’t afraid and I wasn’t angry
because I have already forgiven them seven years ago.” The Geske
family still lives in Malatya, “We weren’t afraid of what happened, we
just were totally sad,” Geske said. “We stayed because God called us
to stay here and that is why we stayed.” The 93rd hearing in the case
was scheduled for April 10, 2014 but was delayed until June 23 and
“has been transferred to Malatya’s First High Criminal Court, where a
completely new panel of judges and prosecutors are assigned to the
case,” according to World Watch Monitor. “The trial is just
punishing the guilty, in my opinion the important thing is to forgive
them from what they did,”Geske said when asked about the endless
delays in the trial. Seven years on from the brutal murders, these
events continue to cast a shadow over the Christian community in
Turkey, though the level of hostility towards Christians has gradually
decreased. “There has not been much change legally [regarding the
rights of Christians],” Sahin said, “However, there is an increase in
tolerance of Christians in the state. Christianity has become more
visible and anti-Christian publications in major media outlets also
greatly reduced,” Sahin told ICC. Yet the memory of the Malatya
Massacre is still fresh in the minds of many Christians. As a number
of Christians posted on their social media profiles: “We Won’t Forget
…We Won’t Let It Be Forgotten…” On Friday, celebrations including
a memorial gathering to mark the anniversary of the death of these
three Christians and the opening service of the first registered
church in Malatya took place. Todd Daniels, ICC Regional Manager for
the Middle East, said, “Following the seventh anniversary of the
tragic events at the Zirve Publishing House, we continue the call for
justice to be handed down by the courts for those responsible for
these killings. We continue to pray for the friends and families of
those who were killed that day. We urge the Turkish government to send
a clear message that the rights and freedoms for Christians and other
religious minorities in Turkey will be upheld and protected. It is
important for Turks, of all religious and ethnic identity to fully
enjoy the benefits of Turkish citizenship.”