I noticed last night a change on the Voice of the Martyrs website. The “graphic description” of the martyrdom of the three Turkish Christians had been removed from the “Letter to the Global Church from the Protestant Church of Smyrna.” From the beginning I was wondering how much of the story contained in this letter could be substantiated. That is why I contacted a religion reporter from The Dallas Morning News yesterday to see if the details could be confirmed. He wrote me back saying that he would look into the story.
I had already sought to find independent confirmation of the details of the “graphic description.” Several news outlets published descriptions of the killings before that letter was posted on the Voice of the Martyrs website on April 26. I posted links to the following descriptions in my original post.
[Warning: Graphic descriptions follow.]
“The three victims . . . were found a day earlier with their hands and legs tied and their throats slit. Their faces were bruised, and the ropes had cut into their wrists. . . at least one victim was stabbed many times. ‘There were so many stab wounds that we couldn’t count them,’ Hurriyet quoted Dr. Murat Ugras as saying. ‘It was clearly torture.'” â€“Associated Press (April 20, 2007)
“Their throats had been cut and their bodies marred by multiple stab wounds.” â€“ Christianity Today (April 20, 2007)
“Two other Turkish Christians . . . were also found tied up and their throats slit. According to Turkish press reports the victims were brutally tortured. Geske’s body showed 156 knife wounds. Yuksel’s genitals and fingers were slashed.” â€“Turkey, Assist News Service (April 20, 2007)
“They cut their throats like an animal, like a sacrifice. They were the first martyrs of the evangelical church in this country.” â€“The Christian Science Monitor (April 25, 2007)
“What unfolded between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 18 could add another chapter to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. As the three men joined together for Bible study, a dozen assailants tied them to chairs, then brutally interrogated and tortured them for two hours about their church activities. A videorecording made with a cell phone shows the men being disemboweled, dismembered, and stabbed hundreds of times. Their throats were slit when police arrived.” â€“World magazine (May 5, 2007)
“The autopsy reports lead to the following picture : The bodies were covered with about 156 knife wounds in the pelvis area, lower body, anus, abdomen, and back. Their fingertips had been sliced repeatedly ; and they had massive slashes on their necks which severed the windpipe and oesophagus.” â€“Journal ChrÃ©tien (May 2, 2007)
Thus many of the details of the attack were reported before the Voice of the Martyrs had even published the “Letter to the Global Church.” If I can confirm that any or all of these reports are in error, I will let you know.
Some of the “confirmation” for the brutal details of the attack came from Turkish media reports, including the Turkish Daily News, which quoted a doctor who had worked on the case.
We have recieved updated reports from sources in Turkey that questioned some of the early reports, and that’s why we made the change to our web site posting about the case.
Please continue to pray for Christians in Turkey, and that this event can be the spark that lights a great revival fire in that country.
The Voice of the Martyrs
Darlene N Bocek
The letter currently on the VOM site is our most updated ‘Letter to the Global Church from the Church of Smyrna.’ The graphic description of the torture given by Dr. Murat Ugras in a press conference is being challenged pending release of the ‘official’ autopsy report. Until more is known, even the above reports which refer to Dr. Ugras’s interview are questionable.
We based the description in the initial prayer letter on those news reports and others like them which are only available in Turkish, but as you suggested substantiating them is another issue.
Unfortunately, no believer saw the whole body of either Necati or Ugur. Tilmann’s friends saw his whole body and from what they saw it appeared that there were only ‘about 20’ visible wounds. Some suggest that there was a conspiracy to exaggerate the extent of the wounds in order to frighten the Christians in Turkey. Others hold that a doctor of such repute as Dr. Murat Ugras would not go ‘on the line’ by lying about such a case of national and international significance. Out of courtesy to the debate we requested that pending release of the autopsy reports that those graphic details be removed.
That said, I think that generally people do not really have a picture of what ‘torture’ really means. The extent of the torture on the initial letter was in several areas probably exaggerated by the media we based our report on. However, we believe that in His Sovereignty, God used even that to wake His Worldwide Church from slumber.
I am attaching on the next post the text of the interview with Dr. Murat Ugras.
Darlene N. Bocek
The Protestant Church of Smyrna
Darlene N Bocek
BaÅŸhekim YardÄ±mcÄ±sÄ± ve hastane sÃ¶zcÃ¼sÃ¼ DoÃ§. Dr. Murat UÄŸraÅŸ
“SayamadÄ±ÄŸÄ±mÄ±z kadar Ã§ok bÄ±Ã§ak darbesi vardÄ±. Ä°ÅŸkence amaÃ§lÄ± olduÄŸu Ã§ok aÃ§Ä±ktÄ±. KalÃ§asÄ±, testisleri, anÃ¼sÃ¼, beli ve sÄ±rtÄ± onlarca bÄ±Ã§ak darbesi ile doÄŸranmÄ±ÅŸ. ParmaklarÄ± uzunlamasÄ±na ve kemiÄŸe kadar defalarca kesilmiÅŸti. BoÄŸazÄ±nda da boydan boya Ã§ok uzun ve aÃ§Ä±k bir yara var. Yemek borusu ve soluk borusu bu darbelerle kesilmiÅŸti. Saat 14.25â€™te ameliyata alÄ±ndÄ±. Hastanedeki 4 birimin ekipleri ameliyata girdi. 51 Ã¼nite kan verildi. Hastanenin kan stoklarÄ± tÃ¼kendiÄŸi iÃ§in kan KÄ±zÄ±layâ€™dan tamamlandÄ±. Ancak UÄŸur saat 17.30â€™da hayatÄ±nÄ± kaybetti.”
Dr. Murat UÄŸraÅŸ, a spokesman for the Turgut Ã–zal Medical center
â€œHe had innumerable scores of knife stab wounds. It is obvious that these wounds had been inflicted to torture him. His fingers were repeatedly sliced to the bone lengthwise. His buttocks, his tecticles, his rectum, his lower and middle back had dozens of cuts. There was a very long and open cut on his neck from ear to ear. His esophagus and trechea were cut with the knife-stab wounds. He was taken into surgery at 14:25. Teams from 4 units of the hospital participated in the surgery. 51 units of blood were given. After the hospitals blood stock were depleted, the blood was supplied from Kizilay (Red Crescent). Nevertheless, Ugur lost his life at 17:30.â€