Pastor in Turkey's eastern province receives death threat from clandestine group
Mehmet Colak, the pastor of a church in Turkey's eastern province of Malatya, said that he was recently confronted in the street by a group of men who told him that they would "wipe out all Christians in Turkey," and that they would "chop off" his head if he did not abandon his faith.
Three members of the same local congregation, Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske, were killed in 2007 in the offices of Zirve Publishing House in Malatya by a group of men, after they were tortured.
Colak told Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) that he traveled on 8 August to the western city of Izmir to visit some of the churches located there and that while he was on his way to visit a church in the city center on 10 August, he noticed that he was being followed by some people.
He said three men approached him, and calling him by his name asked him if he had some copies of the Bible, and when he said he did not, they threateningly said: "We know you all too well. Watch your step. We will wipe out all Christians like you from these lands, we'll chop off your heads. You're going to convert."
He told that one of the man took a bullet out of his pocket and repeated, "If you do not abandon your religion we'll chop your head off."
Colak also noted that the men told him they were members of the Turkish Vengeance Brigade (TIT), and received instructions to get rid of him.
TIT is an ultra nationalist clandestine group that claimed the murder of hundreds of leftist activists, trade union members, students in the 1970s. Its members reportedly served under Turkey's National Intelligence Agency (MIT) in the years following the military coup in 1980.
Colak told MA that he applied to the Human Rights Association (IHD) after the men threatened him, and that he also filed a criminal complaint.
"I have heard nothing from the authorities since I filed the complaint nine days ago," he said.
The representative of the church that Colak currently serves as pastor filed a criminal complaint last September over serious concerns that a "mass killing similar to that in 2007 may take place."
A suspects was subsequently taken into custody on threat allegation, only to be released shortly later.