International Institute for Religious Freedom

IIRF Reports 2017/1

2016 Human Rights Violations Report


The Turkish Protestant community is made up of over 140 small and large fellowships, mostly in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

The Protestant fellowships have established 5 religious foundations, 3 foundation representatives, 34 church associations and over 30 representatives tied to those associations. The remaining fellowships have no of cial/legal status. Approximately 25 of them are house fellowships, the rest use public places for worship but do not have of cial/legal status.

The Protestant community does not have capability within the Turkish National Education system to train/develop its own religious personnel. The Protestant community in the majority of cases train their own religious leaders, a small percentage obtain education at theological schools overseas while others gain necesssary knowledge and skills for pastoral leadership through seminars given here in Turkey. Because there are not enough local Protestant leaders some church’s spiritual leadership is done by foreign pastors.

The Protestant community does not have a hierarchical or centralized structure. Every local church acts independently. However, church pastors began meeting together in the 80’s for the purpose of unity, solidarity and partnership between the Protestant churches, and in the mid 90’s they formed TeK (Turkish Pastors Association, throughout the document called TeK) in order to structurally improve unity. Because of the former Association Rule’s limits, TeK continued to have problems as a representative body before the of cial bodies in Turkey; as a result of the change in the Association Rule, TeK chose to become an association. The Association of Protestant Churches was of cially formed on Jan. 23, 2009. At this time the Association of Protestant Churches acts as the Turkish Protestant community’s representative and institution for unity.

Since 2007 the Association of Protestant Church has published these monitoring reports which explain the Protestant community’s situation in Turkey.1 The Association of Protestant Churches attaches importance to the freedom of religion and belief for all people everywhere, and makes an effort to ensure this becomes a reality. In order to serve this purpose, the Association desires to prepare and distribute this annual monitoring report that describes the Protestant community’s situation.

In 2016 Turkey as a whole faced a wave of terror and violence on every front, in particular through a signi cant coup attempt on July 15th. For all these reasons a state of emergency was declared which continues in Turkey today. The Protestant community, just like the rest of Turkey, has been affected by these dif cult developments. Yet the Protestant community from the rst day has stood for democracy against terrrorism and the coup attempt and it continues to do so.

The freedom of religion and belief as one of the basic rights found in national and international laws, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is secured under national and international laws and constitutional authority in our country. However, from the perspective of the Protestant community some basic problems still continue in 2016. For the purpose of contributing to the development of freedom of belief in Turkey, this report presents some of the experiences and problems as well as positive developments that have been experienced in 2016 by the Protestant community in the area of religious freedom.