In that span, 78 expatriate Christian workers received deportation orders or travel bans, and the “situation has exposed a huge humanitarian problem for them, their spouses and children,” said the Association of Protestant Churches in its 2021 Human Rights Violations report. “Having someone from a family receive an unexpected entry ban breaks family unity and leaves everyone in the family facing a chaotic situation,” the report said. Many workers have been expelled on charges of being a threat to national security.
While many churches in Turkey are led by local Christians, there is still a need for foreign workers because training of local religious staff, as well as providing religious education, is impossible under existing laws.
The report noted that Protestant Christians in Turkey also struggle with legal registration and finding a place for their meetings. “In 2021, problems continued to be faced with regards to requests to establish a place of worship, to continue using a facility for worship, or with applications to use existing church buildings.”
Of the 186 churches that belong to the Association of Protestant Churches, 10 meet in church buildings while the rest are forced to rent a variety of properties.
The UN Human Rights Committee raised concerns about the deportations and lack of places of worship with the Turkish government in August last year. Meanwhile, four Christian expatriates who had been expelled from Turkey have taken their case to the European Court of Human Rights.