Friday, December 21, 2007

PAPUA (Indonesia): Genocide by Demographics.

Date: Friday 21 December 2007
Subj: Papua (Indonesia): Genocide by Demographics.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


If present demographic trends continue, West Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) will be majority Indonesian (mostly Javanese) Muslim by 2011, and the indigenous Melanesian predominantly Protestant Christian Papuans will be a dwindling 15 percent minority by 2030. This was recently forecast in a conference at the University of Sydney (NSW, Australia) by Political Scientist Dr Jim Elmslie of the West Papua Project, which is based at the University of Sydney Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS).

Dr Elmslie also notes however that this forecast may prove unduly optimistic as it does not take into account the escalating HIV-AIDS infection rate amongst the Papuans or their declining population growth rate. In other words, the annihilation of the Papuans may be even more imminent than the demographic trends suggest. (Note: The Indonesian military introduced AIDS into the Papuan population by bringing in AIDS-infected Javanese prostitutes which they establish in Papuan villages and frequently use as currency.)

The issue of the decline in the Papuan population growth rate warrants further investigation and will possibly be the subject of a WEA RLC News & Analysis posting early in 2008. Several sources attest that Indonesia is targeting UN-funded family planning programs at the Papuan population, particularly in sensitive areas such as around the Freeport mine and in other areas slated for clearing and development.

According to Dr Elmslie, highland Papuans who allegedly have gonorrhoea are being treated in UN-funded family planning clinics -- but not for gonorrhoea. They are being injected instead with long-term contraceptive drugs. As Dr Elmslie notes, this goes some way to explaining why the 1.67 percent population growth rate for Melanesian Papuans in West Papua is so much lower in than over the 2.6 percent population growth rate for Melanesian Papuans over the border in Papua New Guinea (PNG). (Meanwhile, the growth rate for the non-Papuan population in West Papua is 10.5 percent.)

In the highlands of Papua, where maternal and family health services and pharmacies are virtually non-existent, it is tragic that the UN would focus its efforts on controlling and limiting rather than serving and treasuring humanity. And of course, it is not difficult to imagine how such a program could be exploited.

Meanwhile, the issue of the genocide of the predominantly Christian Papuans must become an issue of urgency for the Church. The governments of the USA, Britain and Australia, as well as other nations and bodies such as the UN, have geo-political and economic interests that pull them towards a preference for the status quo, regardless of consequences. By their action and inaction they are complicit and find the truth and immorality surrounding the betrayal and genocide of a Christian people a most inconvenient truth indeed. The Church must act by making Papua a prayer priority and such an advocacy priority that the Papuans (like the South Sudanese and Iraq's Assyrians) become a domestic political issue that cannot be ignored. Indonesia must respect Papua's Special Autonomy status, and aggressive colonisation, militarisation and Islamisation must end.

As Dr Elmslie notes in his paper, the Genocide Convention of 1951 defines genocide as that which is "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group" (Article II), and those interested in maintaining the status quo will focus on the word "intent" in order to argue that if intent cannot be proved then genocide cannot be claimed.

The issue of intent however has no bearing on the reality or outcome. As Dr Elmslie argues, semantics about whether or not there is "intent" should not stop the international community from recognising that an immense tragedy is unfolding in Papua, gross human rights abuses are occurring and the Papuans are being annihilated.

The most decisive statement to date on the subject of genocide in West Papua has come from the Allard K Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic Yale Law School, which in 2005 published a paper entitled "Indonesian Human Rights Abuses in West Papua: Application of the Law of Genocide to the History of Indonesian Control." (Link 1)

Quoting from page 72: "Although no single act or set of acts can be said to have constituted genocide, per se, and although the required intent cannot be as readily inferred as it was in the cases of the Holocaust or the Rwandan genocide, there can be little doubt that the Indonesian government has engaged in a systematic pattern of acts that has resulted in harm to -- and indeed the destruction of -- a substantial part of the indigenous population of West Papua.

"The inevitability of this result was readily obvious, and the government has taken no active measures to contravene. According to current understanding of the Genocide Convention, including its interpretation in the jurisprudence of the ad hoc international criminal tribunals, such a pattern of actions and inactions -- of acts and omissions --supports the conclusion that the Indonesian government has acted with the necessary intent to find that it has perpetrated genocide against the people of West Papua."

PAPUA: GENOCIDE BY DEMOGRAPHICS


The West Papua Project, based at the University of Sydney (NSW, Australia) Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), "seeks to promote peaceful dialogue between the people of West Papua and Indonesia, and to promote conflict resolution as a viable alternative to the current and escalating conflict." (Link 2)

On 9-10 August, Indonesian Solidarity in association with the West Papua Project (CPACS) organised a conference entitled "West Papua 2007: Paths to Justice and Prosperity". The papers presented at that conference are available on the West Papua Project website (link 2) under the heading "West Papua Conference".

All those who are concerned about the future of the predominantly Protestant Christian West Papuans would be interested in these papers.

The following is an excerpt from Dr Jim Elmslie's paper, "West Papua: Genocide, Demographic Change, the Issue of 'Intent', and the Australia-Indonesia Security Treaty". (Link 3: direct link)

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EXCERPT: DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION IN WEST PAPUA
By Dr Jim Elmslie

Over the last 43 years in West Papua there have been many killings; disappearances; land expropriations and repressive Indonesian government policies that have severely affected the demographics of the province. . .

In 1971 there were 887,000 'Irian born' (Papuan) people in West Papua and 36,000 'non-Irian born' (Asian Indonesians), out of a total population of 923,000. This meant that, even after eight years of Indonesian control, Papuans comprised 96% of the population in 1971.

Thereafter the distinction between Irian born and non-Irian became less relevant as, obviously, children of non-Irian born migrants were Irian born. I have derived the figure for the Papuan population in the 1990 census by dividing the population into those who speak Bahasa Indonesia as a 'mother tongue' and those who do not. This is because the census does not record the racial profile of the province. On this basis there were 1,215,897 Papuans and 414,210 non-Papuans in 1990 out of a total population of 1,630,107. Papuans comprised 74.6% of the total and non-Papuans 25.4%.

The growth in the Papuan population from 887,000 to 1,215,897 during the period from 1971 to 1990 represents an annual growth rate of 1.67%. Assuming that this growth rate continued to 2005, the latest figures released by the Indonesian Statistics Office, the Papua population would be 1,558,795 out of a total population of 2,646,48914 and the non-Papuan population 1,087,694. This means that Papuans comprised 59% of the population and non-Papuans 41% in 2005.

This analysis shows that the Papuan population has diminished as a proportion of the population from 96% to 59%, and the non-Papuan increased from 4% to 41%. This represents a growth in the Papuan population from 887,000 to 1,558,795 for the period 1971 to 2005, or 75.7%. By contrast the non-Papuan sector of the population has increased from 36,000 to 1,087,694, a growth of 3021% or more than 30 times. This represents an annual growth rate in the non-Papuan population of 10.5% from 1971 to 2005.

Using the two growth rates for the Papuan and non-Papuan populations, 1.67% and 10.5% respectively, we can predict future population growth and relative percentages of the two groups. By 2011 out of a total population of 3.7 million, Papuans would be a minority of 47.5% at 1.7 million and non-Papuans a majority at 1.98 million, or 53.5%. This non-Papuan majority will increase to 70.8% by 2020 out of a population of 6.7 million. By 2030 Papuans will comprise just 15.2% of a total population of 15.6 million, while non-Papuans will number 13.2 million, or 84.8%. This may be an unduly optimistic forecast for the Papuan population as the current HIVAIDS epidemic is firmly established in that population group and could have an African-style impact, cutting numbers and growth rates even further.

Besides the relative decline of the Papuans as a percentage of the population they have also enjoyed a much lower growth rate than a very similar Melanesian Papuan population across the border in Papua New Guinea. Here the population has been growing at 2.6% per annum since independence in 1975. PNG acts almost as a control population when examining Papuan growth rates as the indigenous people on both sides of the border are closely related and settled in societies that had, until very recently, been self-contained for thousands of years. If the Papuans under Indonesian control had enjoyed the same growth rate as those in independent Papua New Guinea, 2.6%, their population would be 2,122,921, or 564,126 more than it was in 2005. This demographic discrepancy can be attributed to Indonesian rule.

Thus from a position of comprising 96% of the total population in 1971, Papuans will be a small and dwindling minority within a generation or two. This will have great consequences for Papua New Guinea as Indonesian military/business groups engage ever more deeply in that country, particularly in the logging and retail industries. With the increasing militarisation of West Papua, particularly in the border regions, PNG's own security may come under threat.

------------------------------------------------

Dr Elmslie fears the situation in West Papua, where Asian Muslims are completely dominating the military, education and business realms and where two distinct peoples are increasingly on a collision course, is heading toward a "large scale, copybook genocide in the near future. With 'intent'."

This has been the fear of Papuans and religious liberty observers for some time. The Indonesian military (TNI), through barbaric killings and other acts of terror, is constantly attempting to provoke the Papuans into a response or a rebellion that would then provide the TNI with a pretext for wide-scale massacres in the name of curtailing the separatist threat and defending Indonesian security and sovereignty.

Papuan church leaders, who are the primary source of leadership for the Papuans, are doing a phenomenal job of keeping the traumatised Papuans restrained, committed to non-violence, and focused on God in hope. They will undoubtedly inherit a peace prize from the Lord when they meet him. Meanwhile the TNI is busy not only provoking but manipulating and exploiting naive Papuan patriots by arming them and sending them to kill -- as was the case in the August 2002 Freeport mine incident (see link 4).

In such an explosive environment, "peace" (as in the absence of wide-scale slaughter) can not be taken for granted. An outrageous but very convenient (for some) holocaust is only a spark away.

Elizabeth Kendal
rl-research@crossnet.org.au

Links

1) Indonesian Human Rights Abuses in West Papua: Application of the Law of Genocide to the History of Indonesian Control.
A paper prepared for the Indonesia Human Rights Network
By the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic Yale Law School

2) West Papua Project

3) West Papua: Genocide, Demographic Change, the Issue of 'Intent', and the Australia-Indonesia Security Treaty. By Dr. Jim Elmslie.

4) Papua: Indonesia, the TNI and the USA.
By Elizabeth Kendal WEA RLC, 2 March 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Belarus: Christian youth leader beaten.

Date: Monday 17 December 2007
Subj: Belarus: Christian youth leader beaten.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


BELARUS: CHRISTIAN YOUTH LEADER BEATEN

Malady Front (Youth Front (Belarussian)), is a Belarussian youth movement with Christian roots which advocates for freedom, democracy and Christian values in Belarus. It has had its application for registration denied six times, most recently in June this year despite meeting all the requirements. Their lack of registration gives the authorities grounds to repress and persecute the group, to ban their meetings and criminalise their activities. (Link 1)

In May 2006, Zmitser Dashkevich, the group's leader and an evangelical Christian, returned from a visit to the USA only to be arrested on charges of "hooliganism" for allegedly writing political graffiti, a charged that could not be proved. On 1 November 2006 Dashkevich was sentenced to 18 months in prison for "organising and participating in an activity of an unregistered non-governmental organisation". (Link 2: Amnesty International UK and Christian Solidarity Worldwide USA)

Dashkevich is not the first Malady Front leader to be punished by the Lukashenka regime. His predecessor, Paval Seviarynets who led the group from 1999-2004 and is also a professing Christian was sentenced in 2005 to two years' hard labour for organising a protest against the official (and clearly fraudulent) results of the referendum and parliamentary elections in October 2004.

In September 2007 Zmitser Fedaruk courageously took on the leadership of the Malady Front. Like his predecessors, Zmitser Fedaruk is a committed Christian. Though only 19-years-old he has first-hand experience of repression, including religious persecution and incarceration. He spent five days in a KGB prison earlier this year for meeting with other Malady Front members in a private apartment. He is a member of a Minsk-based Pentecostal church whose pastor has been imprisoned and its premises confiscated.

Fedaruk recently told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) that his faith in God gives him both his conviction -- that freedom to do good is man's God-given right -- and the courage to fight for it. He also told RFE/RL that he seeks to serve "as a spiritual and moral guide to the group, whose members regularly risk intimidation, beatings, and arrest".

RFE/RL interviewed Zmitser Fedaruk on 6 December while he was in Washington on a visit sponsored by the US Helsinki Commission. The interview entitled "Belarus: 19-Year-Old Activist Fights For God and Country" was published on 7 December. Fedaruk returned to Belarus on 9 December and on 12 December he participated in a peaceful demonstration in support of Belarussian independence ahead of the visit of Russia's President Putin.

(Rumours have been rife that Belarus-Russia unification may be on the agenda once again. Lukashenka once sought this as a means of advancing his power; however, the rise and rise of the cult and power of Putin have laid waste to that fantasy. Now the rumours are that Putin may be seeking it to advance his own power, as a new state would require a new constitution. Stratfor Strategic Forecasting Inc.'s analysis of 13 December, "Geopolitical Diary: Reality Dawns in Belarus", discounts this believing that Putin is a dictator with such widespread support that he will not be limited by constitutional constraints. Stratfor believes Putin is more likely to want Belarus for geo-strategic purposes so he can move his Red Army right up to the borders of NATO-land, transforming Belarus from "buffer" to "launching pad".)

Not only did Belarussian police predictably break up the 12 December protest and beat the protestors, but they targeted Zmitser Fedaruk for special punishment. The security police isolated Fedaruk, beat him to the ground and stamped on him. His head hit the concrete hard, rendering him unconscious. Demonstrators phoned for an ambulance and Fedaruk was rushed to hospital where he was assessed to have a brain concussion of medium severity, as well as bruising. (Link 3)

RFE/RL immediately republished the 7 December interview with an Editor's note. (Link 4)

On 13 December Fedaruk spoke by telephone from his hospital bed to RFE/RL's Belarus Service. "I think my beating was linked to my trip to America. There were many indications of that. I was deliberately pushed behind the OMON [special police] cordon and there, separated from the demonstrators, knocked down and beaten. And then they threw me back, saying something like, 'Take your man back, he made a nice trip to America.'" (Link 5)

Zmitser Fedaruk has a compelling passion for liberty and justice and the glory of God. But even more than that, he has the very thing President Lukashenka fears even more than conviction: the courage to act on it.

"I believe in God. And I fear only God," Fedaruk told RFE/RL. "When I joined Malady Front I couldn't understand how people could stand up and be strong, and not be afraid. Later, when I received this faith I understood that only God and faith can help you be brave. In fact, the young people who come to Malady Front are also like this -- they are the new generation who can get to this new land."

There can be little doubt that Lukashenka will be very keen to crush that courage before it can grow or spread. However, if Fedaruk is right and this courage is from the Spirit of God, then Lukashenka has no idea what he is up against.

Elizabeth Kendal


Links

1) Malady Front Activist Make Another Attempt to Legalize Their Organization
6 June 2006 http://www.democraticbelarus.eu/node/1612

2) http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=249
http://www.democraticbelarus.eu/node/1795
http://www.cswusa.com/Reports%20Pages/Reports-Belarus.htm

3) Riot policemen brutally assaulted participants of rally "For Independent Belarus!"
http://www.charter97.org/en/news/2007/12/13/2372/
ALSO
Mother set to complaint to law-enforcers about beating of Zmitser Fedaruk
http://naviny.by/rubrics/inter/2007/12/13/ic_news_259_282235/

4) Belarus: 19-Year-Old Activist Fights For God And Country. By Heather Maher
http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/12/d97651df-76f1-46ce-ab3a-6db0512d331c.html

5) Belarusian Activist Says Beating Linked To U.S. Trip. 14 Dec 2007
http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/12/d5f35140-476c-4f47-9e07-419bd0d701b0.html

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CHINA: REPRESSION ESCALATES IN LEAD-UP TO OLYMPICS

WEA Religious Liberty Prayer bulletin | No. 458 | Wed 12 Dec 2007

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CHINA: REPRESSION ESCALATES IN LEAD-UP TO OLYMPICS
--------------------------------------------------
By Elizabeth Kendal

The Olympic Games will open in Beijing at 8.08pm, on 8-8-08 and China is getting ready. In a recent article, 'Faster, higher, censored', Graeme Philipson (The Age, Melbourne) states: 'China will use the 2008 Olympic Games to market itself to the world. All countries do this, but the Chinese example will look more like Berlin 1936 than Sydney 2000.' Philipson's point is that the image will not be real -- it will be a facade or an illusion -- with China using the Olympics to 'airbrush out the full extent of its oppression . . . just like Hitler and the Nazis 70 years ago'. He ominously warns: 'Visitors to China next year will see the new stadiums and the expressways and skyscrapers and apartment complexes. They will probably even be able to access their hometown newspapers on the web. They will probably not stop to think that the 1936 Olympics were followed by the most vicious repression the world has ever seen.'

Human rights advocates and Christian ministries report repression is intensifying in the lead-up to the Games. The government wants to ensure 'subversive' elements or 'reactionary' forces do not spoil the show. Shi Weihan (37) runs a Christian bookshop near the Olympic village. According to Compass Direct, though Shi worships in an unregistered house-church, his bookshop has only ever sold books for which he has had government permission. Recently Shi, his wife Zhang, and several employees were arrested. Whilst most have since been released, Shi and a female employee, Tian Hongxia (whose father was seriously beaten during the arrest), remain in custody. Shi Weihan is diabetic and there are concerns for his well-being. As China Aid Association (CAA) notes, this is not an isolated case.

CAA also reports that on 7 December a major police operation raided and detained all 270 house-church pastors meeting for prayer and Bible study in Linyi City in the northern coastal province of Shandong. They were handcuffed in pairs like criminals and taken off for questioning. As of 10 December, 150 pastors were still in custody.

In July 2001 Radio Australia reported China's Vice Prime Minister Li Lanqing as saying at an anti-cult exhibition that winning the 2008 Olympic bid proved the international community appreciated the social stability and economic progress in China and the healthy lives of the Chinese people. He concluded that this justified China's fight against 'cults'.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD -

* will protect and keep Shi Weihan and Tian Hongxia in body, mind and spirit so they will grow in grace and knowledge of him; may he, the God of justice, sweep away Chinese injustice.

* will sustain and encourage all China's detained pastors and freedom advocates (including numerous writers and lawyers); by the working of his Spirit may he grant his faithful imprisoned disciples the honour of being used as channels of his blessing and saving grace into dark places.

* will fill China's pastors and influential Christians with great, divine, spiritual wisdom, insight and grace, so they may lead not by human inclination but according to his will and purpose. (Matthew 16:23)

* who is sovereign over all 'kings', will use the Beijing Olympics for his purpose. 'Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.' (Proverbs 19:21 ESV)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Turkish nationalism threatens Christians.

Date: Wednesday 5 December 2007
Subj: Turkish nationalism threatens Christians.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


This posting aims to give some degree of understanding the phenomenon of Turkish nationalism, its relationship to the persecution of Christians and the immense difficulties facing those hoping to secure justice and security for Christians through the Malatya murder trial. Turkey has only around 100,000 Christians left, making up less than one percent of the population.

HISTORY: TURKEY IS BORN

After World War One, all the Turks retained of the once expansive Ottoman Empire was Anatolia and Istanbul (Constantinople). Through the Treaty of Sevres (1920) the Allies sought to protect Christian minorities by placing most of Anatolia under Christian control: the Greeks occupied the west and the Allies (British, French and Italian) occupied the south, while the Armenian remnant declared an independent republic in the east. Moreover, the Turks were also supposed to grant autonomy to Kurdistan.

Under the leadership of military commander Kemal Mustapha Ataturk, Turkish nationalist forces in Anatolia, rejecting the conditions of the Treaty of Sevres, mounted a War of Independence. They fought and defeated the Greeks in the west and drove the Allied forces out of the south. They also drove the Armenian remnant out of their Armenian Republic in the east. Ataturk thus forced the Allies to return to the negotiating table. With the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), the modern state of Turkey was founded to be the successor state to the Ottoman Empire. The borders were set and the security of remnant minorities was to be guaranteed. Ataturk became Turkey's first president.

Thus Turkish nationalism rose from the ashes of the decimated Ottoman Empire and became established through the subsequent War of Independence. Turkish nationalism was born through Turkish struggles against Christian nations, both indigenous minorities and great foreign powers.

After becoming president, Aaturk committed himself to reforming, secularising and modernising Turkey. He imposed a program of secularisation that repressed Islam by force, liberating and enlightening multitudes (especially women and intellectuals) but confounding others, in particular observant Muslims. But whilst Ataturk felled the tree of Islam, cutting off its expression, he did not deal with the life-force within its roots, something he could have done had he facilitated an open and honest examination of Ottoman history and the Islamic ideology that drove it. Islamic expression was repressed, but Islamic ideology was spared. Consequently, as repression gradually lessened from the 1950s onwards, Islam slowly grew again, increasing in strength through subsequent generations.

HISTORY: THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE

People interpret history differently. The abusive master and the downtrodden slave view life on the plantation from quite different perspectives, just as high caste Brahmins and "untouchable" Dalits have conflicting views of life in Hindu India. In each case, the former boasts from their elevated position of a wonderful existence with prosperity and opportunity. The latter, at whose expense this prosperity and elevation was gained, has a rather different view. Furthermore, the former may expect the latter to appreciate the way they have been tolerated or let live, while the latter simply longs for liberty and equality. It is the same with Muslims and dhimmis, that is Jews and Christians subjugated under Islamic domination and rule.

Just because people see history differently does not mean that objective truth does not exist -- it does. Wilberforce revealed the shameful truth of slavery to the consciences of the British and the truth set multitudes free.

Muslims tend to interpret history though the prism of their Islamic ideology of Muslim superiority and the perfection of Sharia (Allah's perfect law). According to Islam, jihad for the advance of Islam and the implementation of Sharia results in perfect peace, harmony and security. Muslims therefore speak of Islamic Empire as something glorious and benevolent, while they either repress or do not see that the defeated, subjugated peoples had a rather different view. These peoples' lands had been invaded, conquered, occupied and colonised. The conquered peoples were stripped of their rights, disarmed, subjugated, exploited, heavily taxed of money and sons, persecuted and repressed. These were Christian peoples -- Greeks, Serbs, Armenians, Bulgarians, to name a few -- proud, ancient Christian cultures and nations that centuries of Islamic domination reduced to traumatised serfs or slaves.

As post-Reformation Europe rose through liberty and industry, the Ottoman Empire declined through endemic corruption and poor governance. As the Empire weakened, the long-subjugated Christian nations rose up, fought and liberated their people, lands and culture from the Ottoman Muslim yoke.

However, when Turkish Muslims look at the same events they conclude that all history proves is that acquiescing to Western demands is fatal and that Christians are an existential threat to the security and territorial integrity of the Turkish nation.

Salim Cohce is a professor of history and sociology at the state-run Inonu University in Malatya. He believes that missionaries working in Turkey are focusing on "destabilisation, manipulation and propaganda" and concludes, "If they are not controlled, this can be dangerous for Turkey." (Link 1)

As long as the truth of history is subservient to myth and "insulting Turkishness" remains a crime, then Turkey's Christians will have trouble as they will have to continue to bear the burden of Islamised history. Peace and reconciliation are the end products of a process that commences with truth and progresses through confession, repentance and forgiveness. There can be no peace and reconciliation without truth.

TURKISH NATIONALISM SOARS

The US-led invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam's regime put Iraq "in play", not only for pan-Islamists and Shi'ites, but also for pan-Turkists who would like to see an autonomous Turkman entity in Northern Iraq. At least 2.5 million ethnic Turkmen live in Iraq in a corridor that runs from the Turkish border south through Mosul and Kirkuk. It is a strip of land that also includes the bulk of Iraq's northern oilfields and the country's main oil pipelines. Consequentially, pan-Islamism and pan-Turkism have escalated dramatically since the drums of war started beating in mid-2002.

Pan-Turkist aspirations for northern Iraq have more to do with Turkish nationalism than irredentism or imperialism. When the Ottoman Turks and the British signed an armistice on 31 October 1918, the Ottoman Turks still occupied the vilayet (province) of Mosul. At the time, Mesopotamia (Iraq) was part of the Ottoman Empire and was divided into three vilayets: Basra (Arab Shi'ite), Baghdad (Arab Sunni) and Mosul (ethnically and religiously mixed). The British had captured Basra and Baghdad, but they had their sights sets on oil-rich Kirkuk. Within 48 hours of the armistice, Mesopotamian commander in chief William Marshall gave the order to take Mosul, and so the British forces pushed on and drove the Ottoman forces out of Mosul in violation of the ceasefire. Days later the war ended and in the words of Edwin Black, "The shooting stopped. The shouting would now begin." (Link 2)

Turkish nationalism is further provoked by the aspirations of US-backed Iraqi Kurds. For one thing, the territorial claims of Iraqi Kurds and Iraqi Turkmen overlap, most notably their common claim to oil-rich Kirkuk. Further to that, the prospect of autonomy for Iraqi Kurds is motivating Turkey's Kurds to step up their fight for autonomy or an independent Kurdistan, both of which would involve the partition of Turkey. Kurds, who make up more than 20 percent of the population of Turkey, are concentrated in south-east Anatolia. Terrorism from the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK: a Kurdish separatist terror group) has dramatically escalated recently causing Turkish nationalism to soar. It adds to Turkish angst that the PKK are proving to be "better capable of defence than hitherto believed". (Gregory Copley, International Strategic Studies Association, Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy 10, 2007)

The problem being, that one integral element of Turkish nationalism is a deep suspicion and fear of Christians and ethnic minorities that borders on paranoia. Turkish nationalism deems Christians to be an existential threat. As Turkish nationalism rises, so too does persecution of Christians.

MALATYA MURDER TRIAL

This environment of escalating Turkish nationalist and Islamic zeal is not the ideal environment for a trial that is supposed to deliver justice for three martyred Christians -- Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske -- who were tortured and murdered by Muslim Turkish nationalists in Zirve Publishing House in Malatya, Southern Turkey on 18 April 2007.

Compass Direct reports that after six months of investigations, criminal prosecutors charged Emre Gunaydin, Abuzer Yildirim, Hamit Ceker, Cuma Ozdemir and Salih Guler of founding an armed group and murdering Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske in a deliberate and organised manner. (Link 3)

According to Compass Direct, when the Turkish press reported the 23 November trial date, they did so in articles that sensationalised some of the scandalous allegations that the professed killers made during their interrogations, include that the Christians were linked with the PKK and were forcing local girls into prostitution. Compass reports: "Sabah newspaper's headline quoted Emre Gunaydin, the alleged ringleader of the five killers, as saying, 'We committed murder out of fear they would harm our families.'" (Link 3)

Isa Karatas, a spokesperson for the Alliance of Protestant Churches in Turkey told Compass, "These people want to portray Turkey's Protestants as enemies of the nation. [And] because honour is such an important concept in our culture, they are trying to accuse us of having weak morals, so that they can find a justification for their murders." (Link 3)

The trial commenced on 23 November, but as Compass Direct reports: "At the request of the murderers' defence team of lawyers, who declared they had not had sufficient time to examine the prosecution files and prepare the accused suspects to testify, the court adjourned the hearing until 14 January 2008." (Link 4)

Lawyers working on behalf of the victim's families have expressed outrage at the direction the investigations have taken. Of the 31 files the prosecutors assembled for the case, 15 give only limited information on the five murderers and their crime, while 16 files give detailed information on the three Christian "missionaries" and their "missionary activity".

Compass reports: "According to one lawyer quoted by Milliyet newspaper on November 20, this 'irrelevant' information looked like an indirect effort by the chief prosecutor 'to reduce the charges by making the victims' attempts to spread their religion look like 'provocation'." (Link 4)

Independent Turkish media network Bianet commented on the "biased reporting" noting: "There has been a dangerous shift of focus in news reports on the trial." (Link 5)

Bianet notes that the media, instead of focusing on the horrendous crime of torture and murder, focused on the Christians with the implication that their "missionary activities" provided some justification for their murder. Then, in the days before the trial opened, the media shifted its attention to the plaintiffs' attorneys, alleging that "among the lawyers there are some who have defended militants of the PKK terrorist organisation before".

Bianet reports that the Turkish media has published "the names of all the lawyers joining the hearing, together with the names of those whom they had defended before. There is thus a dangerous shift of focus from the presumed perpetrators of a crime to conspiracy theories linking Christian missionaries and PKK activities."

Orhan Kemal Cengiz, the legal representative of the Alliance of Turkish Protestant Churches, is a lawyer for the plaintiffs. He wrote a powerful column "What is going on in the Malatya massacre case?" which was published in the Turkish Daily News on 22 November. (Link 6)

Cengiz laments the sloppy work of the prosecutors who have focused more on the activities of the victims than of the murderers.

Most seriously, Cengiz complains: "The prosecutor retrieved all documents from the computers of the victims and put them in the case file as 'evidence'. Furthermore, these files, which are public now, may lead to new murders because they include many details on other Protestants who reside in different parts of Turkey. The addresses, emails, telephones of many other Turkish Protestants are in the files, which have already been in the hands of the murderers. The prosecutor failed to make a thorough investigation and he has also put many other lives in danger."

Cengiz also complains that the murderers were not properly investigated. Their membership of the ultra-nationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MPH) is noted in the files but not investigated. The confessed murderers gave conflicting testimonies, but these were not challenged or investigated. According to Cengiz, the files lack any details that could implicate others as instigators or motivators of the crime.

Cengiz notes that while the files cast suspicion over the "missionaries", they glorify the murderers by publishing letters they wrote to their families where they explain that they were acting in defence of their homeland.

Cengiz warns: "If state officials keep talking everyday that Turkey is in imminent danger, that there are internal enemies of this country, that missionaries are the agents of foreign states who try to break up Turkey and so on, such horrible crimes are inevitable. If 'internal enemies' such as missionaries are shown on countless Web pages as legitimate targets, and no legal action is taken against this mania, we will continue to see new murders, attacks and slaughters."


Elizabeth Kendal

Links

1) Murders shine spotlight on evangelical activity in Turkey
By Yigal Schleifer, 25 April 2007
http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav042507.shtml

2) Book: Banking on Baghdad
Inside Iraq's 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict.
By Edwin Black
Wiley 2004

3) Malatya Murder Trial Set to Open in Turkey
Local press sensationalizes killers' justifications for deaths by torture.
Compass Direct, 5 Nov 2007
http://www.compassdirect.org

4) Lawyers Slam Investigation of Malatya Murders in Turkey
Widows of slain Christians speak out at opening day of trial.
Compass Direct, 27 Nov 2007
http://www.compassdirect.org

5) Malatya Murder Case Postponed
There has been a dangerous shift of focus in news reports on the trial.
By Erol Onderoglu and Nilufer Zengin.
Bıa news centre, 26 Nov 2007
http://www.bianet.org/english/kategori/english/103126/malatya-murder-case-postponed
SEE ALSO
Judiciary under international spotlight in the murder of Christians in Malatya
The New Anatolian / Ankara, 26 November 2007
http://www.thenewanatolian.com/tna-29736.html
AND
Turks in Christian murder trial. BBC 23 Nov 2007
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7108607.stm
AND
Five on trial in Turkey for missionary murders
By Nicholas Birch in Istanbul. 24 Nov 2007
http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article3191522.ece

6) What is going on in the Malatya massacre case?
By Orhan Kemal Cengiz, 22 November 2007
http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=89265

FURTHER ANALYSIS
Forum 18. TURKEY: What causes intolerance and violence? 29 Nov 2007
By Guzide Ceyhan. http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1053