A Syriac priest in Turkey’s southeast has been indicted by the authorities for joining a terrorist organisation after he was accused of providing food and water to the PKK.
The priest was arrested on 09 January along with two others by anti-terrorism police, with no immediate access to a lawyer. He was formally indicted on 16 January, but this information was withheld by the authorities until 08 February. The PKK is The Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK is a Kurdish militant and political organisation based in Turkey and Iraq, broadly designated as a terrorist group. Since 1984 the PKK has been involved in an armed conflict with the Turkish state, with the initial aim of achieving an independent Kurdish state. It is also an internationally recognised terrorist organisation with a history of targeting Christians, such as in the recent case where the PKK abducted an elderly Christian couple.
The PKK is quite active in this part of Turkey, which is historically Christian. Many Christians do not have the option of withholding food and water from the PKK, should they appear on their doorstep.
However, Turkey often targets these Christians for aiding a terrorist organisation. Turkey’s beleaguered Christian community is trapped between the PKK and Turkish government, with no clear options on how to live out their lives in peace and security.