Turkey: Assyrian Christian priest faces court for giving food and water to Kurdish fighters

November 8, 2020

Persecution of Christians in Turkey: Father Sefer Bileçen was exercising the obligation of charity. He was also acting upon the fact that the Kurdish fighters had previously killed members of the community who refused to give them food and water. He has said previously: “We are caught in a conflict that we have nothing to do with.”

As we continue to see our own Mother Church of Constantinople suffering from persecution in Turkey, we note with sorrow the fact that all the Christians in Turkey live a difficult existence amid numerous troubles. We once again call upon the government of Turkey to grant full religious freedom to all that nation’s Christians. For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Turkey, see here.

“Assyrian Priest Faces Turkish Court,” International Christian Concern, November 5, 2020:

11/05/2020 Turkey (International Christian Concern) –Witnesses were heard in the third hearing against Assyrian priest Father Sefer Bileçen, who is accused by the Turkish authorities membership in a terrorist organization because he provided food and water to the PKK. The hearing was held at Mardin’s 4th High Criminal Court and was closed to the press.

Two detained witnesses regarding the case were heard. According to the press, one witness stated that he does not know Father Bileçen but heard from others that he gave food to the PKK. The second witness said that they wanted food and that Father Bileçen shared with them without knowing their identities. After hearing these testimonies, the court decided to postpone making a decision and another hearing was scheduled on January 27, 2021.

This case shows how Christians are a constant casualty of the Turkish-PKK conflict.  Since the PKK is a terrorist group, Christians cannot safely deny their requests should these members appear on their doorstep. Meanwhile, Turkey is quick to accuse anyone of membership with the PKK. This tension has caused many Assyrian Christians to leave southeast Turkey, where Father Bileçen currently lives.