Suzanne Geske, the widow of Tillmann Geske, who was killed in the 2007 Malatya Zirve Publishing House massacre, has applied for Turkish citizenship a second time after first being refused a passport.
Geske told the Hürriyet Daily News that she made the second application 10 months but had yet to receive a response.
“Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once said they wanted the Germans in Turkey to acquire Turkish citizenship. Now, I and my children want to be citizens. We have been living here for 16 years, and one of my children was born here. Why can’t we benefit from such a right?” Geske said.
Geske’s citizenship application was discussed during talks in Ankara on Feb. 25, in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Erdoğan met with various spiritual leaders.
Three missionaries, including Tillman Geske and two Turks, Necati Aydın and Uğur Yüksel, were tied up and tortured before their throats were slit at the Zirve Publishing House, a Christian publisher in the eastern province of Malatya, on April 18, 2007.
Geske and her three children have remained in the eastern province despite the events.
When asked whether they had considered leaving Turkey after the murders, she said: “We have been living here for years. When we first came here, one of my children was 3 years old, while the other was 11. My third child was born here in [the southern province of] Adana. We have lived a life here. And all of our friends and acquaintances are here. Returning [to Germany] does not make any sense to us after all these years, and my children did not want to leave, either.”
Geske has meanwhile not demanded any protection despite the targeted killings.
Geske said she was not worried about her safety, noting that she was guarded only at the trials for obligatory reasons. “Since I strongly believe in God, I think that only God could protect me and my children. If God wishes, he will take me by his side, so I’m not afraid.”
‘A planned murder’
Geske also said her husband did not work at the Zirve Publishing House and that he was there by coincidence on the day of the massacre.
“We knew that Zirve was being threatened; but still, we did not expect such an incident. It was a planned murder since [some] wanted to create chaos within the country,” Geske said.
“The Zirve massacre and the murders of Father [Andrea] Santoro, Hrant Dink and Father [Luigi] Padovese were all committed for the same reason. All these murders are interrelated; I believe the facts lying behind the murders will gradually come to light,” Geske said.
Santoro was murdered in Trabzon in 2006, while the Armenian-Turkish journalist Dink was gunned down in 2007. Padovese, meanwhile, was killed in the southern district of İskenderun in 2010.
Geske said she regretted the fact that the murders were called “missionary murders.” “In Turkey, being a missionary is seen very differently. It was regarded as a threat factor. And I am strictly against this view.”
Geske also said extending the Zirve case over a longer period of time would lead to better results.
“I believe that the judge hearing the case is a just person. I am not worried over the extension of the trial; contrarily, this would help to unveil deeper connections,” Geske said.
Five young men, age 19 and 20 at the time of the killings, confessed to the murder and were arrested for the crime. However, authorities have continued to investigate the case, which is believed by many to be an act of the “deep state,” rather than a group of independent fanatics.
Geske said that when her husband was murdered, their children were 13, 10, and 8 years old.
“My elder son was aware of the incidents; he had problems after his father’s murder. As a single mother, the responsibility of raising three adolescent children is a heavy burden on my shoulders. Each day, I beg God for help. I am taking shelter in the Holy Bible and its might,” Geske said.