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"Continuously shrinking space” for freedom in Turkey, warns EU

"Continuously shrinking space” for freedom in Turkey, warns EU

  • Report adopted by European Parliament urges Turkey to implement “positive and effective reforms” to protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion 
  • Warning comes as Christian residents arrested, banned from re-entering the country

BRUSSELS (10 June 2022) – The Turkish government are placing “sustained legal and administrative pressure” on religious minorities, among other groups, warns the European Parliament in a report adopted in a vote of 448 in favour and 67 against.

The parliament “condemns the oppression of religious and ethnic minorities” and expresses regret over the “continuously shrinking space” for them to “operate freely in Turkey”. The report brings particular attention to the Greek Orthodox population, and calls on authorities to enable religious communities to obtain legal personality and education rights.

“Everyone has the right to choose their religion and to express it publicly and privately. However, in Turkey, we are seeing an increasing number of Christians and other religious minorities being deprived of this fundamental freedom. Turkish residents have been arrested for sharing their faith and drawn out of the country, banned from return. It’s encouraging that the European Parliament is acknowledging ongoing violations. As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, Turkey must do better,” said Georgia du Plessis, Legal Officer for ADF International in Brussels.

Christians Banned from the Country

Today’s report comes amidst a rising number of discrimination claims made against the government by Christians residing in Turkey. After facing multiple arrests, evangelist David Byle was forced to leave the country he had called home for 19 years in 2018 simply because he shared his faith. Byle is still pursuing justice with support from ADF International. Read more about his case.

Former Turkish residents David and Pam Wilson have brought a case, also with support from ADF International, against the Turkish government to the European Court of Human Rights, having been banned from re-entering their long-term home in 2019. The case could set a precedent that may protect other Christians from facing such faith-based discrimination and banishment from the country.

“It is concerning that we are witnessing increasing displays of hostility – particularly towards foreign Christians in Turkey. These deliberate attempts to stifle the spreading of Christianity violate religious freedom,” commented Lidia Rieder, Legal Officer for ADF International.

“It is a serious violation to use immigration laws as an instrument to interfere with a person’s fundamental right to manifest their religious beliefs,” she continued. 

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