The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) has urged the Turkish government to review its decisions to expel and ban at least 60 Protestant church members from the country.
Speaking at the 45th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the evangelical group noted that over past two years, "60 or more expatriate Protestant Christians in Turkey have been denied residency, arbitrarily and without due process”.
Opting to address those assembled during Turkey’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the WEA highlighted two particular cases of expulsion - David Kandasamy and Andy and Cathryn Hoard.
"David Kandasamy, a Sri Lankan national resident in Turkey, has lived in Turkey for 20 years before receiving an entry ban. He is married to a Turkish Christian woman, and have four children, all of whom Turkish citizens," said Wissam al-Saliby, WEA's advocacy officer.
“Andy and Cathryn Hoard lived in Turkey for 30 years. Cathryn received a sudden entry ban when flying back to Turkey from a short trip. She spent three days detained in a windowless immigration holding cell before being deported to the United Kingdom."
The WEA went on to lament that, as a result of Turkey's policy, "spouses have been separated from their families" and expats have been "denied access to their property and investments that had previously been carefully investigated by Turkish authorities and received their full approval”.
WEA added that the government had provided "no explanation" for the expulsions "apart from telling these Christians that they constitute a threat to national security according to confidential government reports".
“Turkish authorities have denied the lawyers of these expats access to the confidential reports, and therefore, the authorities have offered no possibility for a fair and just appeal to review these orders in accordance with international law, namely article 13 of the ICCPR”.
The group concluded its statement by urging Turkey "to review its decisions to effectively expel and ban the 60 Protestant church members, and to allow for a fair and just recourse against national security decisions and for the examination of the facts behind such decisions”.
In June, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CS) reported that Turkish authorities had issued deportation orders to two American Christians, one of whom was a pastor who was about to fly from Istanbul airport with his family. After being informed that he would not be able to return to Turkey, Pastor Zach Balon of New Hope Church, Istanbul, decided to cancel his flight and file an appeal against the order.
“The expulsions are deeply worrying," CSW's founder Meryn Thomas said at the time. "These workers had all the necessary legal documentation to live and work in the country, yet they are being deported by a government that continues to crack down on Christianity in line with a guiding ethos that equates being Turkish with being Muslim. Worse still, in several cases deportation may result in the separation of families."