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September 06, 2012, Thursday

How missionaries were linked to the PKK

It took three days for the court to read out the summary of the indictment in the Malatya massacre case. While listening to the whole indictment, many thoughts crossed my mind, and one particular question struck me profoundly: How on earth is wasmilitary doing their own work when they were involved in other things that had nothing to do with their work at all and they were spending so much energy on them?

Especially after the Ergenekon trials, it has become crystal clear that some units within the military were spending almost all of their efforts in monitoring society, waging psychological warfare against some segments of society, contacting the media, talking to businesspeople and doing several other things in order to maintain their hegemony over political and societal life in Turkey.

While listening to the second indictment of the Malatya massacre case, once again I was surprised by the amount of time that military personnel spend on activities that have nothing to do with their work.

From the indictment, we understand that the Malatya gendarmerie commander at the time and his men were monitoring a handful of missionaries in Malatya 24 hours a day. They were tapping their telephones, their man had infiltrated this tiny Christian group and the gendarmerie was also paying “informers” a lot of money to collect data about, let’s say, 15-20 Christians in Malatya. In Malatya and in other cities, the gendarmerie organized several meetings to show everyone how dangerous the missionaries’ activities were.

Apart from all the time which they spent to incite these murders, what they did after the murders was just mind boggling. They started to listen in on the telephone conversations of the victims’ families and some other people, including myself, one of the victims’ lawyers. We can see from the court file that they listened in on all of us with court orders based on, of course, false accusations. For example, they listened in on Turkish Christians by accusing them of being involved in “fundamentalist Islamist activities.” Apparently, the judges just approved of the gendarmerie’s “communication monitoring” request without looking at the names and accusations.

Again, we understood from the indictment that the gendarmerie spent an enormous amount of time creating false documents in order to create a false image about the missionaries and Christians. When the court case started four years ago, I wrote a couple of articles about the indictment and its attachments. There were 32 files attached to the indictment; 17 of them were related to missionary activities. These documents portrayed the slain Christians as criminals. When you looked at these files, you could easily form the impression that two gangs fought each other, and at the end, the Turkish nationalist gang killed the members of the Christian gang.

Today, with the second indictment, we learned that all these documents had been created by the gendarmerie and they had presented all these fake documents to the prosecutor to manipulate the case. These documents created imaginary links between the Christians and some clandestine networks. For example, there were many documents which “showed” that the missionaries were working with the members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), that they were receiving orders from the CIA, and so on. Today, we learnt that all these fake documents had been carefully prepared during workshops held by gendarmerie officers. They spent a lot of time creating all this “evidence” against the missionaries. When you look at the work of the Malatya gendarmerie through this indictment and court file, you can see that most of the Malatya gendarmerie’s time in 2007 and 2008 was spent in the war against the missionaries.

Apparently they were conducting their “real tasks” in their free time. Just looking at this weird situation, you can understand what it meant to have military guardianship in Turkey.

I will continue sharing my observations about the case in following articles.

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