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Turkish Government Denies Water to Church in Ankara
Turkish officials continue harassing legal church in an attempt to force it to close

6/27/08 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – The Turkish government is now attempting to shut down the Batikent Protestant Church in Ankara by shutting off the church building’s water supply.

On June 18th an official from the government office of the Ankara Department of Water came with an order to take out the water meter from the Batikent Protestant Church. The reason cited in the order to remove the water meter was because of alleged unpaid water bills dated between Aug 27, 2007 and June 6, 2008. However, between 2005 and 2007 the Batikent Protestant Church won several court decisions granting them the right to have free water from the Government.

In Turkey, the government gives mosques free water. However, Turkey’s constitution is based on secularism, and thus it seems logical that whatever rights a mosque may have to free water should be afforded to churches as well. Accordingly, in 2002, when Pastor Daniel Wickwire founded the Batikent Protestant Church of Ankara for Turkish-speaking Christians, he applied to the Municipal Government of Ankara asking for free water.

This request for free water was denied by the local government, so Wickwire and the church’s Turkish Pastor Ali Pekta? opened a series of court cases going all the way up to the Supreme Court where they eventually won the right for the church to have free water. Not only did they win the right to have free water provided to the church, but the Supreme Court ordered the Ankara Department of Water to repay all of the water bills the church had paid since it opened.

Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Turkish government has refused to repay the church for their previous bills and continued to harass them by sending water bills and attempting to remove their water meter on 10 different occasions. Twice this left the church without water, and the water was turned on only after the church paid the water bills that it did not rightfully owe.

ICC reported on a different attempt by the government to shut down Batikent Protestant Church in a press release earlier this month on June 10. On June 2, police delivered a government order to shut down the church in three days because it was in violation of the zoning code. However, the church had already won a court case on this same issue. Yet again, they have been forced to open another expensive counter court case in order to stop its impending closure.

The opposition faced by Batikent Protestant Church is part of a wider problem. The present government of Turkey has been enacting new laws designed to close down existing churches and make it difficult to open new ones.

Jeremy Sewall, Policy Analyst at ICC, said, “Adding to its human rights violations, the government of Turkey is also lacking in creativity. They could at least invent a different pretense to try to shut the church down than ones that it has already lost. For the government to completely disregard its own court decisions reveals either an impotent court system or a deeply conflicted political struggle within Turkey. Either way, their decision to childishly harass Batikent Protestant Church is an embarrassment to their country.”

Please contact the Turkish embassy in your country and ask them to stop harassing Batikent Protestant Church in Ankara.

Turkish Embassies:
Country Phone Fax Email
USA (202) 612-6700 (202) 612-6744 [email protected]
Canada (613) 789-4044 (613) 789-3442 [email protected]
UK 020 7393 0202 020 7393 0066 [email protected]
Australia (02) 6234 0000 (02) 6273 4402 [email protected]