Download Link: Ast-Newsletter-January-2018-Vol-1
11 December 2017 | Sacramento
On December 11th, 2017, Access Sacramento TV Channel 17 is featuring Fatih Ates, in “The Lighthouse for Today’s Viewers”. The show is hosted by Nahid Kabbani. It covers a little bit of politics, religion, and human rights abuses in Turkey. After learning the fact that innocent women and children are jailed in Turkey, Nahid expresses her feelings, “This is like going backward a thousand years instead of moving forward.”
Please see the whole show via www.accesssacramento.org.
Event Date: November 6, 2017
The Congregation Etz Chaim Synagogue hosted the “Salaam Shalom Music Project” performance. Participants had the opportunity to view the “What I Brought in my Luggage” display of items brought to the U.S. by refugees fleeing the governmental witch hunt after Turkey’s recently attempted coup d’état…
|City, State/Country||Name of Institution||Website Address|
|New York / USA||UNICEF||https://www.unicef.org|
|Fairfield, CT / USA||Save the Children||www.savethechildren.org/|
|New York / USA||Human Rights Watch||https://www.hrw.org/|
|New York / USA||Human Rights Foundation||https://www.humanrightsfoundation.org|
|Geneva, SWITZERLAND||United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC)||www.ohchr.org/hrc|
|New York / USA||Internatioanl Federation for Human Rights||https://www.fidh.org|
|New York / USA||Human Rihts First||https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/|
|Dublin, IRELAND||Children’s Rights Alliance||https://www.childrensrights.ie/|
|New York / USA||NESRI-National Economic and Social Rights Initiative||https://www.nesri.org|
|New York / USA||VERA Institute of Justice||https://www.vera.org/|
|Kansas City, MO||Children International||https://www.children.org/|
|Washington, D.C./USA||the Global Fund for Children||http://support.globalfundforchildren.org|
|Portland, OR / USA||Child Foundation||https://www.childfoundation.org/|
|Washington, D.C./USA||Children’s Defense Fund||http://www.childrensdefense.org/contact/|
|London, United Kingdom||National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children||https://www.nspcc.org.uk/|
|Washington, D.C./USA||First Focus||https://firstfocus.org/|
|Louisville, KY||National Safe Place||http://www.nationalsafeplace.org/|
|San Fransisco, CA / USA||Futures Without Violance||https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/|
|San Francisco, CA||The Forgotten International||https://www.theforgottenintl.org/about-tfi/contact/|
|New York / USA||End Violance Against Children||http://www.end-violence.org/contact-us|
|New York, NY||Marta Santos Pais/ Special Representative of the Secreta||http://srsg.violenceagainstchildren.org/contact|
|New York||Equity for Children|
October 2017/ (32 Pages)
The findings of the report reveal a disturbing pattern of human rights abuses against innocent children in Turkey and abroad. By the end of August 2017, 688 children under the age of six are in jails across Turkey with their mothers. The report aims to highlight and raise awareness about the plight of thousands of children in Turkey and abroad subject to discrimination on several grounds prohibited by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Download Link: Children-Report-2017
“I CANNOT SAY WE ARE ABSOLUTELY SAFE EVEN ABROAD”
Report on the Current and Possible Threats Supporters of the Gulen Movement Face Abroad
Since the attempted coup of July 15, 2016 the Government of Turkey Turkish government has engaged in illegal extraterritorial and extrajudicial actions been taking strict measures to silence dissidents in other countries from various ideologies recently.
Gulen Movement (also known as “Hizmet Movement,” meaning service in Turkish) has been the main target of the government, which is a faith-based group of people engaging in different voluntary activities such as education, business and health. Alleged supporters of the Movement in Turkey have been dealing with arrest, imprisonment, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, confiscation and passport seizure. Regrettably Turkish government’s actions against the Gulen Movement are not limited to Turkish borders but are also extraterritorial. There are many examples of abductions and physical violence incidents in several countries as well as threats by pro-government people referring to the supporters abroad. This paper discusses these issues to conclude that individuals linked to the Movement cannot feel safe abroad either. Therefore, this study aims to remind foreign security officers the risks Hizmet participants may face, and to request that necessary legal, administrative and practical measures are undertaken to ensure protection of individuals who might be at risk and subject to possible abduction, enforced disappearance, and extrajudicial killings.
Even though actions of the Turkish government against dissidents including the Gulen Movement are not appreciated by many countries around the world, there are some states who are in cooperation with Turkey neglecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. This study will first talk about abductions and deportations around the world that are considered as violating international human rights law and customary international law. Then in the second section, violent reactions perpetrated in foreign states by pro-government people will be mentioned. Third section will be giving details about recent threats targeting the supporters of the Movement. Lastly, to cope with such risks and threats, the Advocates of Silenced Turkey recommends to foreign governments to take all the necessary steps for ensuring protection to these people.
1. Abductions and Deportations around the World
There has been many news around world that members of the Movement have been abducted in different countries suspiciously by the intelligence agencies who aimed to sent them back to Turkey. Below there are summaries of different relevant cases occurred recently which are set out chronologically.
It must be noted that below there are only sample stories of people who could reach out to media and whose voices could be heard by the international community. There might be many more people living through similar things who are not mentioned here in this report.
i. Memduh Cikmaz – Sudan
Memduh Cikmaz has been running a factory in Sudan, and was wanted by Turkey for almost two years and Sudanese authorities informed him that there was no problem regarding his factory as well as his stay in Sudan. However, after the so-called coup attempt in Turkey, the government has been sending letters to foreign governments to deport the supporters of the Movement. Following these, Mr. Cikmaz was detained in a joint operation by Sudanese and Turkish police. He wanted to meet with his lawyer but was denied access, and moreover his family has been concerned of his health relating to a protein-related disease. Hence, they urged domestic authorities not to deport Mr. Cikmaz as he might face persecution in Turkey. Their call was not responded positively. He was deported as well as detained and arrested in Turkey after deportation. There has not been much detailed information about his situation. Nevertheless, if he has been facing with ill-treatment during his arrest, it means Sudan has breached its responsibilities the 1951 Refugee Convention by sending him back.
ii. Enver Kilic and Zabit Kisi – Kazakhstan
Enver Kilic and Zabit Kisi were abducted from a plane in Kazakhstan by an unknown group of people. Their wives have been trying to make themselves heard through social media. Accordingly, on 16 September 2017, both were not allowed to get on the plane because their passports were allegedly cancelled. They had a court hearing in two weeks on 30 September 2017. Ms. Kilic and Ms. Kisi wrote on social media that they cannot get any news from their husbands since 30 September 2017. Two men were reported to be deported according to Turkish media, moreover, they were under custody in Turkey. Nevertheless, there have not been any up-to-date information about them and their condition, their families are justifiably afraid of the possibility of torture. It must be noted that Kazakhstan has been party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, meaning that the country presumably violated the principle of non-refoulement prescribed in the Convention.
iii. Mesut Kacmaz and his family – Pakistan
Mesut Kacmaz and his family, including his two daughters, were abducted in Pakistan on 27 September 2017. Mr. Kacmaz was an educator at a chain of 28 PakTurk Foundation schools that were allegedly linked to the Hizmet Movement. The schools were closed by local authorities last year following the request of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey. Even though the Turkish government asked for their return to Turkey, teachers and employees of the schools have remained in Pakistan under temporary court rules and protection of the United Nations claiming that they will be detained and might be tortured once set foot in Turkey.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the family was taken by “20 armed people in plain clothes.” A neighbor and a fellow friend of the family stated the family was “restrained, blindfolded and hustled into unmarked pickup trucks in Lahore.” Moreover, that he was also taken to a secret facility and released after several days only because he wanted to intervene. Pakistani police officers stated that they had no information regarding the family which directs suspicions to intelligence agencies. Human Rights Watch highlighted that Kacmaz family was under the protection of the UNHCR with a valid certificate until 24 November 2017, thus cannot be extradited. The Pakistani government’s lawyer assured that the family would not be deported as per the UNHCR asylum seeker certificate. Nonetheless, expected scenario happened. Pursuant to later news, the family was handed over to Turkish police and deported to Turkey presumably on 14 October 2017. According to their daughters’ statement, Mr. Kacmaz and his wife were taken into custody not suprisingly, which proves that the family’s fear of persecution was reasonably well-founded. There are still many Turkish families in Pakistan under the UNHCR protection and they are afraid that they might be the next ones to be returned to Turkey through such illegal means.
As the Human Rights Watch notes, the deportation violates both the Lahore High Court’s decision and international law. One might claim that Pakistan is not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention. However, this cannot mean that the country is not under any obligation towards refugees as it is still bound by the customary international law. Accordingly, countries are prohibited to return people to their home countries where it is likely that they will face persecution such as torture, inhuman and degrading treatment. The deportation attracted attention of international journalists and politicians as well, for instance, Rebecca Harms, member of the European Parliament, criticized the Pakistani government strongly for deporting Kacmaz family on her social media account.
iv. Mustafa Emre Cabuk – Georgia
Mustafa Emre Cabuk, who has been living in Georgia since 2002, was detained on 24 May 2017 which was a day after Binali Yildirim, Turkish Prime Minister, visited his counterpart Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. He was sent to prison by the Georgian court’s provisional detention decision for three months. Police officers came to take him from his home said the operation was at the request of the Turkish government. After his arrest, his family urged Georgian authorities not to extradite him to Turkey as his basic human rights would likely to be violated there. Furthermore, Amnesty International called for an urgent action to be taken to prevent his deportation before it was too late and stated “He could be extradited any minute and in Turkey he could be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment, unfair trial or other serious human right violations.” Amnesty also remarked that Georgia was under obligation not to return Mr. Cabuk as per both international human rights law and its national legislation. Local non-governmental organizations were not silent about the issue as well. They voiced their concerns regarding Mr. Cabuk’s situation. They said in a statement
“[The] detention of Mustafa Chabuk in given context has [a] clearly pronounced political connotation and is indicative of political loyalty of Georgian authorities towards the Government of Turkey,” and continued his extradition “represents [a] gross violation of human rights and fundamental standards of supremacy of the law and will undermine the process of democratic development of the country.”
Despite all these efforts, Mr. Cabuk was not quite lucky. His asylum application to Georgia was rejected on July 2017. Moreover, the Georgian court extended his imprisonment for three more months on August 2017. It is yet expected whether Georgia will return him to Turkey. His wife right now can do nothing but trying to make her voice heard via the internet and social media.
v. Muhammet Furkan Sokmen – Myanmar (also known as Burma)
Similar to the previous individuals, Mr. Sokmen was working in Myanmar at Horizon International Schools (allegedly linked to the Movement). Sokmen family, including his wife and two-years old daughter, was detained in Yangon at an airport. First, he was not allowed to board a plane and had a problem with Myanmarese immigration officers. In a video that was posted online, Mr. Sokmen said Turkish ambassador to Myanmar was pressuring local officers to seize the family’s passports. Human Rights Watch’s Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson called Myanmar to provide protection to the family. He highlighted the possibility of risk he could face when returned to Turkey and told that
“The Embassy of Turkey unilaterally revoked or limited their passports in some way to make them vulnerable, and then sought to compel Myanmar to deport them to Turkey. This is a nasty, rights abusing tactic that is illegal under international human rights law because it renders them stateless. But clearly, the increasingly dictatorial government of President Erdogan is prepared to run roughshod over rights and put pressure countries like Myanmar to go along.”
Mr. Sokmen was reportedly arrested and sent to Thailand, he was taken into an immigration detention center to be deported to Turkey there. After being held in detention for a day, he was extradited to Turkey where he was taken into custody and arrested again. No further information could be received regarding his recent condition, but unfortunately it is highly likely that he would be facing ill-treatment. Brad Adams, Asia Director of the HRW, stated “It is deeply alarming that both Burmese and Thai authorities prioritized showing deference to rights-violating demands from Turkey over respecting the bedrock principle of non-refoulement.” Adams also called Myanmar and Thailand to provide access to UN agencies to assess the situation of Turkish asylum seekers within their borders.
Similarly, Laurent Meillan, acting regional representative of the UN Human Rights office for South-East Asia, stated “We reiterate our call to all governments, including in this latest case the Thai and Myanmar governments, to put in place an effective system of review before deportation occurs.” Like Pakistan, even though Myanmar is not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Mr. Sokmen should not have been deported under the customary international law.
vi. Turgay Karaman, Ihsan Aslan, Ismet Ozcelik, Tamer Tibik, Alettin Duman – Malaysia
Turgay Karaman and Ihsan Aslan (a teacher and a businessman) were reported missing to local police by their families who have been living in Malaysia for a long time. Mr. Karaman was on his way to a meeting with his lawyer when he was bundled into a car by four or five unknown plain clothed Malaysian men on 2 May 2017 as revealed by surveillance cameras in an underground car park. His wife and friends believed he was abducted to be returned to Turkey. Likewise, Mr. Aslan has gone missing as well which was reported to the police by his wife on the same day as Mr. Karaman’s. Families of the two men went to the police and they found out eventually that both were detained “for activities that threaten the safety of Malaysia” as per counter-terrorism legislation. Mr. Karaman’s lawyer specified that neither his client nor Mr. Aslan were not involved with any violent activities. Fellow friends of both men indicated that they were not only worried for their friends but also for their own safety reminding the possibility that same thing would happen to them in the future. Similarly, within the same week, Ismet Ozcelik, former academic at the Mevlana University which was shut down by decree laws after the attempted coup, was abducted from his car. Similar to Kacmaz family in Pakistan, Mr. Ozcelik held a refugee card by the UNHCR.
Human Rights Watch reflected on the situation and stated that men were held without any charge – which is allowed under the Law of Malaysia. “The authorities should release these men from custody if they haven’t charged them with a credible offense” said Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director of the HRW in his statement. The HRW and Amnesty International expressed their concerns that men would at risk of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and/or other serious human rights violations should they be returned to their home country of Turkey. Both organizations have called the Malaysian government not to extradite three men to Turkey like they did in October 2016.
Suspicions that these men were detained at the request of the Turkish government increased after their deportations, even though police chief Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters the opposite. As expected, expulsions were not welcomed by human rights organizations. Robertson from the HRW affirmed that it was a clear violation of international human rights law. Comparably, Josef Benedict, Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific of Amnesty International, condemned the deportations pointing out the risk of “arbitrary detention, unfair trial and a real risk of torture.” The UN raised its concerns as well that other Turkish nationals at the region might be in danger because of Malaysia’s action. Laurent Meillan, acting regional representative of the UN Human Rights Office in Bangkok, asserted that this might have cross border impact on other countries in Southeast Asia.
Last but not least, Mr. Ozcelik’s son, who was with him when he was taken, and other members of Ozcelik family were able to arrive in a European country where they applied for asylum, however told that they still do not feel safe because of the “long arm of the Turkish state.”
Tamer Tibik and Alettin Duman had gone through similar challenges in October 2016 as well. Both were reported missing by their wives who have searched everywhere possible to find them including police stations and hospitals. It was several days later when they guessed it was their husbands that the Turkish Foreign Minister at the time talked about when he announced Malaysia handed over “terrorists” cooperating with Turkey. Yet, they could not get any more news about their situation. Mr. Tibik’s mother was able to find them after searching through various police stations door-to-door. Mr. Tibik wrote in a letter to his wife that unknown men took him in Malaysia to a forest for interrogation using torture. What is worse, Mr. Duman’s mother learned from his son that the torture have not ended once they arrived Turkey but continued for weeks.
2. Violent Reactions by Pro-Government People
Whereas these abductions and extraditions have been taking place in non-European countries, supporters of the Movement cannot feel completely safe in other countries as well. Pro-government people and organizations around the world as well as Turkey’s representatives abroad have been constituting a threat. Especially after the so-called attempted coup, the government’s partisans became more aggressive. For instance, former member of the European Parliament Ozan Ceyhun wrote on social media “Gülenists in Germany will have many sleepless nights. We owe that to our martyrs.” Individuals who are perceived to be Gulenist have been dealing with death threats and arson attacks, also receiving insults on the internet, all were reported to police. For example, head of one of the pro-Erdogan organizations Dursun Bas wrote on social media “How do you dare to go out on the streets? For you there will be no easy death.” Some people said they cannot even go to mosques not to come across government supporters. Pro-government people have also damaged the institutions deemed to be linked to the Movement across Europe, to exemplify buildings of associations inspired by the Hizmet Movement in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany were stoned, burned and/or attacked physically. Whereas European governments show significant efforts to protect the supporters of the Movement – just like everyone within their borders, it would still be possible for individuals to damage the supporters. To exemplify, a Turkish businessman who reportedly had links with the Movement was killed on September 2017. Ali Ekrem Kaynak was shot in Amsterdam, who was targeted earlier in 2017 as well. Someone has tried to set his restaurant fire, and moreover, his partner in business was shot in August 2017. His partner survived after the first shooting but Mr. Kaynak could not. Witnesses told news agencies that both men had already arguments before with the supporters of the government and were beaten by them. Similarly, members of the Movement have been exposed to verbal attacks in the United States too by pro-government people.
Government agencies abroad also have also been taking actions against Hizmet supporters. To illustrate, Turkish preachers from the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) have been collecting information regarding the supporters of the Movement at the government’s request. Even though these were initially claimed to be “false media claims,” Secretary General Bekir Alboga then admitted that “a few” imams provided information to the Presidency of Religious Affairs, which is operating under the Turkish Prime Ministry. Furthermore, as per later news, German police’s investigations revealed that these accusations may only be the tip of the iceberg meaning that such efforts could be taking place across Europe such as in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium.
3. Recent Threats against the Gulen Movement
Turkey has been on the news with a slightly different topic recently. In a case before the District Court of New York in the United States, Turkish businessmen are on trial for breaching Iranian sanctions. The defendants are charged with “participating in a billion-dollar scheme to smuggle gold for oil in violation of the Iran sanctions.” The case is relevant for this study in the sense that the Turkish government, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is claimed to be helping those businessmen covering up the transactions through bribes. Meanwhile, the US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Mike Flynn was alleged to accept the Turkish government’s offer of 15 million dollars in exchange for delivering Mr. Fethullah Gulen to Turkey. The case is still ongoing, therefore, there is no clear answer to the question of whether the government has tried something like this or not. However, what is evident is that the Turkish government has recently been mentioned and criticized in international news a lot by journalists, politicians and academics. Hence, it is speculated that the government will harshen its attitude even more against dissidents. Early signs of such assumptions have already started. The government announced its plans to build 228 new prisons in the next five years indicating that they are likely to arrest many more people. Furthermore, at least 699 people were imprisoned last week because of their alleged links with the Movement.
Other signals of such expectations are given by pro-government journalists and politicians as well. For instance, Aydin Unal, former speechwriter of President Erdogan and current deputy of the ruling party (Justice and Development Party), threatened supporters of the Movement explicitly in his column at a pro-government newspaper. Referring to the journalists in exile, he wrote “They should prepare for the extrajudicial organization executions approaching, rather than conduct an operation through the judicial theater.” In his article, he claimed that the Movement would do something like this, because certain individuals’ living “does not serve the interests” of the Movement anymore. Nevertheless, it can be seen looking at recent news stories about Turkey that the Movement has turned into a scapegoat. To clarify, the government has been accusing the Movement of everything going wrong in Turkey. It does not matter if it requires to make radical changes in their statements, the government has dedicated itself to lay the blame on Mr. Gulen and his sympathizers. For example, very recently, Reza Zarrab, abovementioned businessmen who is on trial in the US, was declared as cooperating with the Movement by Ilnur Cevik, one of President Erdogan’s chief advisors. This is unbelievable in the sense that the Movement has been in the target board of the government since December 2013 when Reza Zarrab and family members of the cabinet ministers were taken into custody for corruption claims by police officers claimed to be Gulenist. Erdogan was a prime minister at the time and he explicitly protected Zarrab and stated he was a philanthropist businessman. Clearly, Erdogan’s such a clear sentence does not prevent Reza Zarrab to be declared Gulenist after conflicting interests arise.
Threat by Aydin Unal, who has been targeting the Movement in his other articles too, attracted attention in the international community as well. Preet Bharara, former US attorney who started the investigation regarding Reza Zarrab, referred to his statement on his own social media account for awareness. Furthermore, Carolyn B. Maloney, congresswoman representing the 12th District of New York, highlighted the importance of press freedom and called US Department of State to condemn such threats officially.
Another shocking statement was made by Cem Kucuk, pro-government journalist who is devoted to President Erdogan. During a live television program, he suggested Turkish intelligence agencies to kill family members of people who were arrested over Gulenist links (or alleged links). He criticized public prosecutors to be soft against Hizmet followers and went further to the point that proposing arrestees to be tortured in jail, for instance that they must be “hanged out of the window by their legs”.
Similar threats and statements have been made by different people one of which is Ahmet Zeki Ucok, retired colonel and military judge from air forces. In his social media account, he implied as if the Movement is in a preparation of assassination plots against politicians, religious officials, journalists, sports men and leaders of the civil society in Macedonia and Kosovo by special teams. His statements are not surprising in the sense that it has become a cliché now to create conspiracy theories without any basis. It must be noted that many western countries are welcoming Turkish asylum seekers having links with the Hizmet Movement and that states do no believe in the government’s claims about the Movement being behind the coup attempt. Therefore, such claims by pro-government people would be aiming to create a perception of terrorist organization. So far, President Erdogan’s calls to declare war against the Movement are not responded positively by foreign governments in most states, however, such assassinations would serve the interests of the Turkish government.
Risks and threats Hizmet supporters might face are increasing day by day by the government’s and its supporters’ actions. According to German news agencies, Metin Kulunk, deputy from the ruling party, has allegedly been funding a Turkish gang named “Ottoman Germania” active in Germany. Surveillance cameras showed that Kulunk has been giving money to the members of this group which was then used to buy weapons. Research lead to the point that this gang has been assigned to attack the Turkish dissident groups in Germany.
Last but not least, these concerns were voiced by a US magazine, Foreign Affairs, as well. The author of the article titled “Is Turkey Turning into a Mafia State?” mentioned different activities of the Turkish government implicating that the state is both neglecting and engaging with criminal activities such as illicit trading and smuggling, money laundering and corruption. Accordingly, Turkey has been creating fabricated stories targeting dissidents rather than fighting with real crimes. Statistics on the investigations against “conventional organized crime have dramatically decreased.” These speculations are strengthened by the sudden release of Sedat Peker from prison, who is a notorious mafia boss, and photos of President Erdogan embracing him. The article puts forward reasonable suspicions to think that Turkey has started to withdraw the rule of law and democracy, but leaning towards an autocratic mafia state.
4. Interviews with the Supporters
Considering all these, it is understandable why people deemed to be supporters of the Movement do not yet feel safe abroad. In an interview made by the AST, Bilal Eksili, partner at the Washington Diplomacy Group, stated “The situation is quite worrying especially for the prominent people” and continued “It is not possible to estimate the government’s actions in such a desperate position.” He added that after all these threats if something happens to a supporter of the Movement, the government will be the first to blame and that it will be a breaking point after which the government will be considered as a terrorist state. He called all the security forces and states around the world to ensure security to the supporters of the Movement.
In another interview with a human rights lawyer from Turkey, who talked on condition of anonymity as he is worried about his family members in Turkey, it was asserted that the government using the state’s opportunities for their own interests to target members of the Movement abroad. He specified “I cannot say we are absolutely safe even abroad” and said he cannot even go to the Turkish mosque in his city because religious officials keep records of people for purposes of blacklisting, just like they cannot go to the consulate buildings. He said the government’s partisans are mostly uneducated people who can easily be manipulated, thus might be provoked against the supporters of the Movement. Lastly, he asked foreign governments to watch especially employees of the Turkish embassies closely to prevent any possible harm.
Several United Nations and other multilateral human rights treaties, as well as UN treaty body jurisprudence is unambiguous when dealing with extraterritorial actions of a government in seizing their nationals in the territory of another country, without recourse to regular procedures and relevant judicial safeguards:
1. The abduction of citizens covertly and forcibly from the territory of another state is illegal and a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of the concerned state.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance.
3. The perpetrator (Government of Turkey) should organize all State organs and governance structures through which public authority is exercised in a manner consistent with the need to respect international law and ensure the right to life, both in Turkey and abroad.
4. The perpetrator (Government of Turkey) is finally, under obligation, pursuant to article 2 (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to provide effective remedies to the victims, including immediate release, permission to leave Turkey and compensation for the violations which he/she has suffered and to take steps to ensure that similar violations do not occur in the future.
To conclude, it is evident that the actions of the government have cross-border impacts putting even people abroad at risk. People that are perceived as linked to the Hizmet Movement are justifiably right to be afraid of the possible incidents. Therefore, we as the Advocates of Silenced Turkey urge foreign governments to take all the necessary steps to ensure safety to these people before it is too late. Security officers must be aware of the potential risks. Officials working for the government abroad must be watched closely, they must be prevented if they are in preparation of any harm. Lastly, both individuals and organizations that are deemed to be Hizmet participants must be provided extra protection when there is an imminent risk targeting them.
We kindly request from the United States Government including the local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies as well as all the countries around the world caring about human rights to promptly:
1. Identify individuals in the country who are likely targets of the Turkish National Intelligence Agency and the Turkish government, and that is in danger of being threatened, abducted, tortured and/or killed or illegally extradited.
2. Investigate evidence of the Turkish government’s illegal activity, including potential perpetrators’ actions, behaviors and abductions; extrajudicial assassinations of targets; and the torture or illegal removal of person(s) from the country.
3. Urge the Turkish government to immediately dissolve the Office for Human Abduction and Executions.
4. Support Human Rights Defenders in Turkey and abroad, and prevent arbitrary deprivation of life and extrajudicial killings.
 “Sudan’da Türk işadamına gözaltı.” Aktif Haber, 8 Sept. 2017, aktifhaber.com/gundem/sudanda-turk-isadamina-gozalti-h103678.html.
 “Sudan arrests Gülen-Linked businessman at Turkey’s request.” Turkish Minute, 9 Sept. 2017, www.turkishminute.com/2017/09/09/sudan-arrests-gulen-linked-businessman-at-turkeys-request/.
 Gumrukcu, Tuvan. “Turkish, Sudanese intelligence agencies catch and return alleged coup suspect: Anadolu.” Edited by Dominic Evans and Mark Heinrich, Reuters, 27 Nov. 2017, reut.rs/2BqKVzD.
 Sudan has been party to the Convention since 1974.
 “Two Turkish nationals, abducted from plane in Kazakhstan, returned to Turkey: report.” Turkey Purge, 10 Nov. 2017, turkeypurge.com/two-turkish-nationals-abducted-plane-kazakhstan-returned-turkey-report; “Kaçırılan iki Türk’ün kayıtsız gözaltında tutulduğu ortaya çıktı.” Aktif Haber, 9 Nov. 2017, aktifhaber11.com/gundem/kacirilan-iki-turkun-kayitsiz-gozaltinda-tutuldugu-ortaya-cikti-h107173.html.
 Kazakhstan has been party to the Convention since 1999.
 For more detailed information about the case, see Khan, Haq Nawaz, and Pamela Constable. “A Turkish family has disappeared in Pakistan, and suspicion turns to intelligence agencies.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 11 Oct. 2017, wapo.st/2i2LnyK?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.b3f52d4f73e9; Sayeed, Saad. “Turkish family of PakTurk Schools director abducted in Pakistan: rights group.” Reuters, 28 Sept. 2017, reut.rs/2yaIe6H;
 Ijaz, Saroop. “Pakistan’s Deportation of Turkish Family Shows Many at Risk.” Human Rights Watch, 18 Oct. 2017, www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/18/pakistans-deportation-turkish-family-shows-many-risk.
 Hashim, Asad. “Missing Turkish teacher ‘deported from Pakistan’.” Pakistan News | Al Jazeera, 16 Oct. 2017, aje.io/wgf3m.
 Khan & Constable, Ibid.
 See fn. 8; Article 33 (1) of the 1951 Refugee Convention states “No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July 1951, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, p. 137, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3be01b964.html [accessed 6 December 2017].
 Harms, Rebecca (RebHarms). “How is this possible against high court decision and in spite of protection by @UNHCRPakistan @UNRefugeeAgency Any comment by UN? @hrw.” 15 Oct. 2017, 4:49 a.m. Tweet.
 “Gülen school manager arrested after Turkish PM’s Tbilisi visit.” OC Media, 25 May 2017, oc-media.org/gulen-school-manager-arrested-after-turkish-pms-tbilisi-visit/.
 “Urgent Action: Teacher at Risk if Extradited to Turkey.” Amnesty International, UA: 121/17 Index Eur 56/6372/2017 Georgia, 26 May 2017, https://www.amnestyusa.org/urgent-actions/urgent-action-teacher-risk-extradited-turkey-georgia-121-17/.
 “NGO’s appeal to the Government of Georgia regarding possible extradition of Mustafa Chabuk to Turkey.” EMC (Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center), 5 June 2017, emc.org.ge/2017/06/05/emc-298/.
 “Georgia refuses refugee status to detained ‘Gülen school manager’.” OC Media, 10 July 2017, oc-media.org/georgia-refuses-refugee-status-to-detained-gulen-school-manager/.
 A letter by Mr. Cabuk’s wife can be found here: Cabuk, Tugba. “Turkey Wants to Arrest My Husband. You Can Save Him.” The Globe Post, 6 June 2017, www.theglobepost.com/2017/06/06/turkey-wants-to-arrest-my-husband-you-can-save-him/.
 Goldberg, Jacob. “Myanmar-Based family abducted by Turkish embassy from Yangon airport | Coconuts Yangon.” Coconuts, 25 May 2017, coconuts.co/yangon/news/turkish-teacher-abducted-embassy-officials-yangon-airport/.
 Lefevre, Amy Sawitta, et al. “U.N. expresses grave concern over Myanmar, Thai deportation of Turkish national.” Edited by Andrew Bolton, Reuters, 27 May 2017, reut.rs/2qZbEjt.
 “Burma/Thailand: Deported Turkish Man at Risk.” Human Rights Watch, 1 June 2017, www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/01/burma/thailand-deported-turkish-man-risk.
 Lefevre, et al, Ibid.
 For more detailed information, see Dearden, Lizzie. “CCTV shows school principal being ‘abducted’ as post-Coup crackdown in Turkey spreads to Malaysia.” The Independent, 3 May 2017, www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/turkish-principal-men-abducted-malaysia-kuala-lumpur-turgay-karaman-ihsan-aslan-gulen-hizmet-coup-a7716376.html; Latiff, Rozanna. “Malaysia arrests two Turks suspected of threatening national security.” Edited by Nick Macfie, Reuters, 3 May 2017, reut.rs/2pWSqf2.
 For more detailed information, see Latiff, Rozanna. “Malaysia detains third Turkish national citing security fears.” Edited by Nick Macfie, Reuters, 5 May 2017, reut.rs/2pfl1bp; “Police arrest third Turkish man.” Free Malaysia Today, 5 May 2017, shar.es/1MCZY9.
 “Malaysia: Longtime Turkish Residents Detained.” Human Rights Watch, 5 May 2017, www.hrw.org/news/2017/05/05/malaysia-longtime-turkish-residents-detained.
 Holmes, Oliver. “Fears grow Turks held in Malaysia may face unfair trial or torture at home.” The Guardian, 3 May 2017, www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/03/fears-grow-turks-held-in-malaysia-may-face-unfair-trial-or-torture-at-home.
 “Malaysia has deported three Gülenists, says Turkish FM.” Hürriyet Daily News, 14 Oct. 2016, www.hurriyetdailynews.com/malaysia-has-deported-three-gulenists-says-turkish-fm–104984; “Urgent Action: Three Turkish men arrested and at risk of torture.” Amnesty International, UA 102/17: ASA 28/6180/2017 Malaysia, 5 May 2017, https://www.amnesty.org.uk/files/2017-05/UA10217.pdf?5QWbhLChxi143jTm5gUX4hB_lBjYjOgG.
 “Malaysia: Extradition puts three Turkish men at risk of torture.” Amnesty International, 12 May
 Latiff, Rozanna, and Robert Birsel. “Malaysia deports three Turks amid U.N. fears of widening Turkish crackdown.” Edited by Nick Mackie, Reuters, 12 May 2017, af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKBN1880PE.
 Weise, Zia. “Long arm of Turkey’s anti-Gülenist purge.” Politico, 21 Aug. 2017, www.politico.eu/article/long-arm-of-turkeys-anti-gulenist-purge/.
 Baume, Maïa de La, and Giulia Paravicini. “‘Sleepless nights’ for Gülen’s supporters in Europe.” Politico, 24 Aug. 2016, www.politico.eu/article/sleepless-nights-for-fetullah-gulen-supporters-in-europe-erdogan-turkey-coup/.
 Wolf, Marthe van der. “Turks Seen as Sympathetic to US-Based Muslim Cleric Say They Face Threats.” VOA News, 29 Aug. 2016, www.voanews.com/a/turks-seen-sympathetic-us-based-muslim-cleric-face-threats/3485265.html.
 “A Turkish businessman killed in Amsterdam over his alleged links to Gülen movement.” Stockholm Center for Freedom, 16 Sept. 2017, stockholmcf.org/a-turkish-businessman-killed-in-amsterdam-over-his-alleged-links-to-gulen-movement/.
 Roman, Gabriel San. “Turkish Trash Talk: Erdogan Backer Accosts Gulenist Vendor at OC Halal Food Festival.” OC Weekly, 7 Dec. 2017, www.ocweekly.com/news/video-erdogan-supporter-accosts-gulenist-vendor-at-muslim-food-festival-8605011.
 The DITIB is an umbrella organization active in Europe working for the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey.
 Winter, Chase. “Turkish Islamic organization DITIB admits preachers spied in Germany” Deutsche Welle, 12 Jan. 2017, p.dw.com/p/2Vgzu?tw.
 Winter, Chase. “Turkish imam spy affair in Germany extends across Europe.” Deutsche Welle, 16 Feb. 2017, p.dw.com/p/2Xj3A?tw.
 Weiser, Benjamin. “Reza Zarrab, Turk at Center of Iran Sanctions Case, Is Helping Prosecution.” The New York Times, 28 Nov. 2017, nyti.ms/2icWFRu.
 For more detailed information about the case, see Weiser, Benjamin. “Reza Zarrab, Turk at Center of Iran Sanctions Case, Is Helping Prosecution.” The New York Times, 28 Nov. 2017, nyti.ms/2icWFRu, Weiser, Benjamin. “Reza Zarrab Testifies That He Bribed Turkish Minister.” The New York Times, 29 Nov. 2017, nyti.ms/2BygWWa, Weiser, Benjamin. “Erdogan Helped Turks Evade Iran Sanctions, Reza Zarrab Says.” The New York Times, 30 Nov. 2017, nyti.ms/2katZZL, Weiser, Benjamin. “At Iran Sanctions Trial: A Star Witness Revealed, and a Sleepy Juror.” The New York Times, 2 Dec. 2017, nyti.ms/2BG2qMs, Weiser, Benjamin. “Zarrab’s Take From Iran Sanctions Plot? ‘Maybe $150 Million,’ He Says.” The New York Times, 5 Dec. 2017, nyti.ms/2AUAtmf, “The Latest: Charges detailed in Turkish gold trader plea.” The Washington Post, 28 Nov. 2017, wapo.st/2hZS8Ou?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.37ad7e2afad3, Barrett, Devlin, and Erin Cunningham. “Gold dealer implicates Turkey’s president in corruption scheme.” The Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2017, wapo.st/2AmdApq?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.18c3e9148821.
 Grimaldi, James V., et al. “Mueller Probes Flynn’s Role in Alleged Plan to Deliver Cleric to Turkey.” The Wall Street Journal, 10 Nov. 2017, www.wsj.com/articles/mueller-probes-flynns-role-in-alleged-plan-to-deliver-cleric-to-turkey-1510309982.
 Demirkaya, Nergis. “Hükümetin 2023 planı: 5 yılda 228 yeni cezaevi – Nergis Demirkaya.” Gazete Duvar, 10 Dec. 2017, www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/gundem/2017/12/10/hukumetin-2023-plani-5-yilda-228-yeni-cezaevi/.
 Simsek, Yurdagul. “İçişleri Bakanlığı: Bir haftada 1323 operasyon düzenlendi, 4 bin 62 kişi gözaltına alındı.” Sputnik Türkiye, 11 Dec. 2017, sptnkne.ws/gkyG.
 Unal, Aydin. “’Smart’ Fetullahists.” Yeni Şafak, 4 Dec. 2017, www.yenisafak.com/en/columns/aydinunal/smart-fetullahists-2040235.
 “Cumhurbaşkanı Başdanışmanı’ndan Zarrab açıklaması.” CNN Türk, 20 Nov. 2017, www.cnnturk.com/turkiye/cumhurbaskani-basdanismanindan-zarrab-aciklamasi, “Erdoğan’ın başdanışmanı Zarrab’ı FETÖ’cü ilan etti.” Yeni Çağ Gazetesi, 20 Nov. 2017, www.yenicaggazetesi.com.tr/erdoganin-basdanismani-zarrabi-fetocu-ilan-etti-177682h.htm.
 “Erdoğan: Reza Zarrab ülkeye katkısı olan hayırsever biri.” T24, 26 Dec. 2013, t24.com.tr/haber/erdogan-reza-zarrab-ulkeye-katkisi-olan-hayirsever-biri,246961, Munyar, Vahap. “Zarrab hayırsever Aslan saf ve dürüst.” Hürriyet, 26 Dec. 2013, www.hurriyet.com.tr/zarrab-hayirsever-aslan-saf-ve-durust-25444886.
 For instance, he wrote “If the Zarrab case is used as a political attack against Turkey, the peace of FETÖ members in Turkey and all over the world will be more difficult than it is today.” Unal, Aydin. “Zarrab davasının sonuçları ne olur?” Yeni Şafak, 26 Nov. 2017, www.yenisafak.com/yazarlar/aydinunal/zarrab-davasinin-sonuclari-ne-olur-2041279.
 Bharara, Preet (PreetBharara). “Ladies and gentlemen, Erdogan’s deputy wants to kill Turkish journalists in exile, including those in America. https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/12/04/erdogans-deputy-threatens-journalists-with-extrajudicial-killings/ …” 4 Dec. 2017, 8:22 a.m. Tweet.
 Maloney, Carolyn B. (RepMaloney). “Freedom of the press is a vital part of any democracy and these threats are unacceptable. The US @StateDept needs to unequivocally and publicly condemn this.” 5 Dec. 2017, 7:57 a.m. Tweet.
 “Cem Küçük’ten canlı yayında işkence tavsiyesi: Havlu tekniği var, boğuyor.” Cumhuriyet, 12 Dec. 2017, www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/turkiye/884749/Cem_Kucuk_ten_canli_yayinda_iskence_tavsiyesi__Havlu_teknigi_var__boguyor.html, “”Sallandır ayağından camdan aşağı”.” Odatv, 12 Dec. 2017, odatv.com/sallandir-ayagindan-camdan-asagi-1212171200.html, “Yandaş Cem Küçük’ün canlı yayında işkence öneren açıklamaları.” BirGun, 13 Dec. 2017, www.birgun.net/haber-detay/yandas-cem-kucuk-un-canli-yayinda-iskence-oneren-aciklamalari-rtuk-e-sikayet-edildi-195340.html.
 Ucok, Ahmet Zeki (ahmetzekiucok). “15 Temmuz darbe girişiminde başarılı olamayan FETÖ ve SAHİPLERİ,yeni bir kargaşa ortamı yaratmak amacıyla,Makedonya ve Kosova’da kurdukları özel timlerle siyasilere,din adamlarına,gazetecilere,spor adamlarına,sivil toplum liderleri vb karşı suikast planları yapmaktadırlar.Dikkat!” 5 Dec. 2017, 1:20 p.m. Tweet.
 “Vertrauter Erdoğans zündelt in Deutschland.” ZDF – zur Startseite, 12 Dec. 2017, www.zdf.de/politik/frontal-21/osmanen-germania-104.html.
 Gingeras, Ryan. “Is Turkey Turning Into a Mafia State?” Foreign Affairs, 30 Nov. 2017, www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/turkey/2017-11-30/turkey-turning-mafia-state?cid=int-fls&pgtype=hpg.
 Washington Diplomacy Group is an independent government affairs firm active in Washington DC.
 Eksili, Bilal. Interviewed by the AST on December 2017.
 Interviewed by the AST on December 2017.
Download PDF: AST_Report_Threats_Gulen Movement
Turkish government has been targeting dissidents from various ideologies recently. One of these opposition groups, the Gulen Movement, has been the main target since 2013. The supporters of the Movement have been dealing with different strict measures perpetrated directly by the state authorities such as arrest, imprisonment, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, denial of fair trial, confiscation, passport cancellations and labeling. The actions of the government produced a new group of people who seek asylum in many countries around the world. These asylum seekers have been receiving affirmative responses in many countries, four of which will be explored in this study. This paper will examine the perceptions of four countries, namely the Kingdom of Norway, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, towards asylum applications coming from Turkish applicants with links (or alleged links) to the Gulen Movement.
The aim of this policy is to shed light on the current situation of Turkish asylum seekers who have fled from human rights violations and different types of persecution perpetrated by the Turkish government. In addition, this analysis aims to provide more information and guidance for decision makers to understand why the Gulen Movement’s supporters are applying for asylum and seek protection.
Before going into details about refugee status and states’ approaches towards the Gulen Movement’s supporters, it is important to look at the level of human rights recognition and protection within these states. There are many reports regarding human rights and fundamental freedoms around the world, but this paper will briefly mention the data from the latest Freedom in the World 2017 report prepared by the Freedom House as it is one of the most reliable and recent ones.
Freedom House prepares the Freedom in the World report each year which awards countries aggregate scores from 0 to 100 (0 is the least free whereas 100 freest), and also ratings for political rights and civil liberties from 1 to 7 (7 is the least free whereas 1 freest). All the countries mentioned in this study got good scores in these categories. Accordingly, all countries awarded 1, indicating the best results, both for political rights and civil liberties putting them into the category of ‘free’ countries. Norway’s aggregate score – together with Finland and Sweden – is 100. Close to Norway, Canada has got 99 aggregate score ranked right after Finland, Norway and Sweden, and the UK’s score is 95. Lastly, even though a bit lower than the others, the US has got 89 in aggregate score which is a very good score compared to the world.
Regarding the situation of refugees, it must be recalled that three of these states, Norway, Canada and the UK, are parties to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (known as the “1951 Refugee Convention”). Norway and Canada incorporated the Convention directly into their national legislation, whereas the UK only refers to it in relevant acts. The US is only party to the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, even so, it means the country undertook most of the obligations in the Convention itself.
Below, each country’s approach towards the Gulen Movement will be examined individually, and then an overall evaluation will be made in the light of information provided.
As is known, Norway is one of the best countries around the world in terms of human rights recognition and implementation. The Kingdom of Norway is known to be one of the strictest countries in Europe in terms of refugee policies, and moreover, the country has tightened its asylum rules this year to strengthen its borders. Yet, the country provides a good level of protection to the refugees who are within its borders. The Act of 15 May 2008 on the Entry of Foreign Nationals into the Kingdom of Norway and Their Stay in the Realm (known as the “Immigration Act”) regulates the conditions for asylum seekers to be recognized as refugees in its Section 28. Quite similar to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Section 28 defines the foreign national who “has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of ethnicity, origin, skin colour, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or for reasons of political opinion, and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of his or her country of origin” as a refugee. The provision which includes families of the refugees to the scope, however, is not unconditional that the Immigration Act §28 excludes foreigners who can obtain effective protection in other parts of their home countries. Section 29 clarifies the circumstances in which acts can be accepted as persecution under the Immigration Act. Accordingly, severe violations of basic human rights especially those violate non-derogable rights in the European Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “ECHR”) are considered as persecution. Forms of persecution stated in the Norwegian Act vary from mental and/or physical violence to any type of disproportionate and/or discriminatory measures. Lastly, Section 30 elaborates the concepts of religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group and political opinion as persecution grounds.
Following the worrying series of events since 2013 in Turkey, especially after the so-called attempted coup, Turkish people having alleged links with the Gulen Movement have started to apply for asylum in different countries including Norway. The country has examined many cases coming from applicants with alike backgrounds and the number is expected to increase because of the worsening situation in Turkey. For this reason, on October 12, 2017 the Ministry of Justice and Public Security has published instructions aiming to provide guidelines regarding the cases of Movement’s supporters. The instructions start with a background information that acts of the Turkish government have created a new group of asylum seekers who, if they return to their home country of Turkey, might face risks of “arrest, imprisonment, torture and conviction.” The Ministry also emphasizes that the majority of the applicants are well-educated people having professional relations with the Gulen schools and colleges who could provide both identifying and other documents proving their links with the Movement. Taking into account these, the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration proposed as regards the applicants with strong indications of involvement with the Movement to be entitled protection under the Immigration Act §28. It must also be noted that as the Turkish government controls the whole territory, it is not possible for applicants to be displaced internally. Yet, these instructions do not mean to exclude a concrete and individual assessment to be made in each case considering present situation in Turkey.
The instructions by the Ministry are clearly defined which can be summarized as such:
Firstly, the Ministry requires that each case will be subject to concrete and individual assessment based on every applicant’s specific profile and possible reactions they may face in case of return. It stresses that having links (or alleged links) with the Movement merely is not sufficient to be protected under the Immigration Act §28.
Secondly, while examining the application, up-to-date information about the possible acts of the Turkish government must be considered, for which the Directorate is tasked to monitor the developments in Turkey closely.
Thirdly, the applicants are under obligation to prove their identities as well as links with the Gulen Movement themselves as much as possible.
Fourthly, the Ministry recalls the exclusion provision in Section §31 which regulates that if a person committed one of the mentioned crimes, s/he will not be entitled to protection. This is aimed at individuals who cited “fear of future criminal prosecution” because they have committed or acted as accessories to the criminal acts committed during the attempted coup. Even if the conditions to be accepted as refugees under Section §28 are met, there might still be a possibility of exclusion as per Section §31.
Fifthly, being dismissed is “not alone sufficient to warrant the designation persecution.” For an act to be considered as persecution under the Norwegian Act, requirements in Section 29 must be met which requires severe human rights violations to be perpetrated.
Sixthly and lastly, the Directorate must take into account the fundamental national interests and foreign policy concerns of Norway while assessing the applications.
Norway’s instructions prove the country’s affirmative approach towards asylum seekers connected to the Gulen Movement.
Canada has also been one of the exemplary countries ensuring human rights and fundamental freedoms within its jurisdiction. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has remarked on several occasions, the country is also very welcoming towards refugees. Following President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, Trudeau wrote on social media that “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” which is only one of his many inclusive statements.
Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (hereinafter “IRPA”) stipulates similar definitions and conditions with the Norway’s Act. Canadian Act was adopted with many objectives in asylum seekers’ favor, one of which is to “offer safe haven to persons with a well-founded fear of persecution.” The Act also aims to provide fair and efficient procedures regarding the applications as well as to support refugees both socially and economically. According to relevant definitions in the Act a refugee is “a person who, by reason of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, (a) is outside each of their countries of nationality and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to avail themself of the protection of each of those countries.” Such a person cannot be returned back to her or his home country unless constituting a danger to public in Canada meaning that criminals will not fall under the scope.
This general information of Canadian approach towards refugees must be considered together with the attitude towards Turkish nationals linked with the Gulen Movement. Research Directorate of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada responded to information requests regarding the Movement on September 29, 2016. The Response includes brief background information stating that the Gulen Movement “espouses a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with democracy,” and that it started as a religious but then converted into a transnational civil society movement. Main objective of the Movement is to “attain God’s good pleasure based on the conviction that ‘service to humanity is service to God.’” For instance, aiming this objective, the Movement has been supporting students who are in need without expecting any thing in return. Whereas the Movement was seen as an ally of the Turkish government especially by leftists, after corruption investigations against the ruling party President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (then-Prime Minister) declared the group as a terrorist organization and since then they have been blamed for everything going wrong in the country just like a scapegoat. The Directorate tries to clarify the structure of the Movement and highlights that there is “no formal structure.” The Response mentions different fields of the Movement’s activities as well, for example, Gulenist institutions are active in education, business and health. Furthermore, the Directorate notes that the participation in these activities are only voluntary and that there is no monetary or other ‘worldly’ incentives.
The Response also adds information as regards the government’s treatment against everyone who has links (or alleged links) with the Movement. It is specified that especially after the attempted coup the government shut down all the institutions that are perceived to be Gulenist (such as schools, colleges, media outlets, hospitals, associations and a bank). In addition, civil servants including judges, military personnel and police officers were dismissed and labeled as terrorists because of their alleged involvement in the so-called attempted coup. However, the Directorate refers to the statements by the US Secretary of State that there needs to be “legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny” regarding the the Movement’s involvement in the attempted coup and extradition of Mr. Fethulah Gulen, who has been living in self-exile in the US for a long time. It must again be recalled that the Movement strongly denies any involvement and has been asking for an international investigation.
The Directorate touches on reports by non-governmental organizations on the present situation in Turkey as well. For instance, according to the Turkey Analyst, the government declared state of emergency continuingly after the attempted coup to “cleanse Turkey of Gulen supporters.” According to the Human Rights Watch, state of emergency allows the government to rule the country by decree laws with only minimum parliamentary and none judicial oversight. The Human Right Watch also notes that the extent of the measures “goes far beyond” that people who are not involved in the coup attempt but only have perceived links with the Movement have started to be the targets. Thousands of people from different occupations were jailed regardless of any individual assessment. Lastly, Amnesty International’s reports are also alluded in the Response. Pursuant to that, Amnesty points out the situation of detainees who was taken after the attempted coup and were “‘being held arbitrarily’ with ‘no evidence establishing reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.’” Moreover, during the questionings suspects were asked questions irrelevant to the coup attempt trying to reveal if they have any sympathy towards Mr. Gulen. Amnesty also notes that torture, inhuman and degrading treatment including rape took place in the country’s both official and unofficial detention centers.
The Directorate also draws attention to the fact that requests to extradite people were also made to the Canadian authorities regarding the Movement’s supporters in Canada. However, authorities asked for real evidences rather than mere accusations and allegations to take these requests into consideration. The Response refers to the Turkish institutions supporting the Movement active in Canada as well who aim to “advance social cohesion via (through) personal interaction by promoting respect and mutual understanding among people of all cultures and faiths through dialogue and partnership.” Therefore, when it comes to the Turkish refugees and asylum seekers, Canada has been a safe and stable country which will be clarified more below.
The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has examined many cases from Turkish applicants with Gulenist links. According to the latest statistics by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, the Refugee Protection Division has received 1665 applications in 2017 (till September), 895 of which have been accepted so far whereas only 121 were rejected, most of the rest are pending and expected to result positively. The number of received applications in 2016 was 1103, 398 accepted 67 rejected rest is pending. Applications in 2017 as of September quintupled the number in 2015 (which was 295 in total, 104 accepted and 51 rejected) and the number is expected to grow as the time goes. Lorne Waldman, an immigration lawyer from Toronto who has handled almost 20 relevant cases, stated that “Not one has been refused” and added “The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada takes it as a given that Turks affiliated with Gulen will be at risk if they return to Turkey.”
Even though the UK’s remarkable respect for human rights, the country does not seem to be very welcoming towards refugees that the asylum system is very complex and tough according to experts. The Immigration Act 1971 still governs the process with subsequent amendments in several years. Though the 1951 Refugee Convention has not been directly incorporated into the national legislation – unlike the ECHR, the laws order that any application against the 1951 Refugee Convention are not allowed. Therefore, definitions and concepts in the Convention are valid for the British government. Accordingly, definition of a refugee is a person who “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
The UK is not silent about the recent problems occurring in Turkey as well. Home Office prepared an extensive report on the Gulen Movement in April 2017 which elaborates the present situation in Turkey regarding the government’s actions against the supporters. The Movement, who promotes a tolerant Islam which emphasizes altruism, modesty, hard work and education according to BBC, has been in the target board for a long time and has been dealing with various strict measures such as arrest, arbitrary detention, dismissal, asset seizure, passport cancellation, closures of Gulenist institutions as well as labeling all the members and sympathizers as terrorists. Moreover, the government has been violating basic human rights including non-derogable ones that even torture and inhuman and degrading treatment took place in detention centers especially after the coup attempt.
Risks Gulenists may face in their home country and severity of the situation are illustrated very well in the report with reference to different international and non-governmental organizations, human rights experts and news agencies. Home Office classifies the situation of Turkish asylum seekers as amounting to “persecution on the grounds of political opinion” since the measures are taken simply because of having some (or alleged) links with the Movement without considering if the person was really involved in the coup or other illegal activities. The possibilities of discriminatory and disproportionate punishment as well as denial of fair trial are asked to be considered by decision makers. The report also highlights that internal relocation is not possible for Gulenists, because the actions are taken directly by the state institutions all over the country. Lastly, even if an asylum claim is rejected “it is unlikely to be certifiable as ‘clearly unfounded’” under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 meaning that a possibility to appeal the refusal decision will be on the table.
In the light of information provided in the report, it can be concluded that asylum claims of the Gulen supporters are likely to be accepted by the UK. It is noteworthy that the report reminds decisions makers of exclusion clauses as well meaning that if an asylum seeker has been involved in any crime especially the attempted coup itself, it will not be contrary to the 1951 Refugee Convention to refuse the application. Last but not least it is crucial to realize it is the applicant’s responsibility to prove what would s/he face (and whether it amounts to persecution due to political opinion) in case of return.
The US has been one of the countries who receives refugees in quite high numbers. Primary legislation regulating the status of refugees is the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. After an amendment in 1980, the Act includes a similar definition of a refugee with the 1951 Refugee Convention. Section 101(a)42(A) of this Act defines a refugee as “any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
After the coup attempt in July 2016, just as previous countries, the US has received many asylum applications from Turkish nationals who have some connections with the Gulen Movement. The US’ position towards the issue is significant in a sense that Mr. Fethullah Gulen himself has been living in self-exile in the US since 1999. Turkish government requested his extradition to Turkey, and even though Turkish officials have been criticizing the US loudly for protecting him, the US Justice Department has not been provided sufficiently enough evidence for them to act upon.
US Department of State’s annual report on human rights practices around the world explained in detail the human rights condition in Turkey. The government has been violating human rights and fundamental freedoms within its borders on a large scale. Decree laws have dismissed tens of thousands of people from their jobs through long lists. Most of these people and many others have been accused of being terrorists “in many cases with little clarity on the charges and evidence against them.” The report reiterates that the great majority of imprisoned people were people who have some links with or sympathy towards the Movement, whereas as criminal law requires it should have been considered whether they have participated to the coup activities. Even though there is no formal number of political prisoners, experts suggest that many people (especially journalists) arrested after the attempted coup could be considered as such. Detainees are taken under terror-related laws which are broadly defined and even more their rights within jails are not respected as well.
There were even cases where police arrested family members of people who were not at home when the police came aiming intimidation. In addition, even though it was legal to publish and possess books supporting the Gulen Movement and that those books were publicly available by certified publishers, right after the coup attempt police officers started seeing books as a “credible evidence of membership in a banned organization.”
Considering all these it is no surprise that the Movement’s supporters have applied for asylum in the US as well. Though the US’ asylum procedure is quite long and that many applicants still wait to be heard before a judge, there have been cases where the applicant was heard and granted asylum. For instance, an immigration court in New Jersey decided to grant asylum to the applicant after the respondent illustrated in detail why and how would he be at risk if he returns to Turkey. The judge specified the respondent’s testimony credible since he presented his story in great detail without any contradiction. The court was satisfied that the respondent’s case constituted “well-founded fear of future persecution on account of imputed political opinion.” Here, the court made a comparison with individuals “similarly situated to him” and concluded that the respondent’s fear is ‘objectively reasonable’. Finally, the court used its discretionary power in his favor because he has no records of criminal activities. This decision is one of the very first affirmative decisions by US courts regarding Gulen-related cases and number of such decisions is expected to rise as the applicants start to stand before the judge.
Considering all the information above, it can be said that all four countries affirm the strict measures taken against the supporters of the Gulen Movement. These measures constitute clear violations of different human rights provisions that are internationally accepted. Striking points from the above-mentioned documents can be read as follows:
Having in regard all these, as the Advocates of Silenced Turkey, we recommend decision makers and authorities who receive applications from Turkish asylum seekers to take into account the severity of the situation and the possible acts of the Turkish government when they return, which are explained above. Current situation in Turkey is quite worrying that many people have been trying to escape leaving everything behind, and thus asylum would be their only option to live freely in a safe country. We are urging any government concerned with human rights and fundamental freedoms to consider the significance of the asylum claims for those people as well as their families and lives.
 Freedom House is a US based independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world.
 UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July 1951, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, p. 137, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3be01b964.html [accessed 29 November 2017]
 UN General Assembly, Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, 31 January 1967, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 606, p. 267, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3ae4.html [accessed 29 November 2017]
 “Tightening of Norway’s asylum rules.” Government.no, 11 Jan. 2017, www.regjeringen.no/en/topics/immigration/asylum-regulations-in-norway/insight/tightening-of-norways-asylum-rules/id2465829/.
 Norway: Act of 15 May 2008 on the Entry of Foreign Nationals into the Kingdom of Norway and their Stay in the Realm (Immigration Act) [Norway], 15 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/507522792.html [accessed 29 November 2017]
 Article 15 of the ECHR enables states to derogate from their obligations under the ECHR, however, Article 15 (2) specifies non-derogable rights as follows: “No derogation from Article 2 [right to life], except in respect of deaths resulting from lawful acts of war, or from Articles 3 [prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment], 4 (paragraph 1) [prohibition of slavery and servitude] and 7 [no punishment without law] shall be made under this provision.”
 Norway: GI-15/2017 Instructions on the practising of the Immigration Act, section 28 [Residence permit for foreign nationals in need of protection (asylum)] – Asylum seekers who cite the risk of persecution due to (alleged) links to the Gülen network, 12 Oct. 2017, available at: https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/gi-152017–instruks-om-praktisering-av-utlendingsloven–28–asylsokere-som-anforer-risiko-for-forfolgelse-pa-grunn-av-tillagt-tilknytning-til-gulen-nettverket/id2575439/?q=gi-15/2017
 Austen, Ian. “In Canada, Justin Trudeau Says Refugees Are Welcome.” The New York Times, 28 Jan. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/world/canada/justin-trudeau-trump-refugee-ban.html.
 IRPA, Cl. 3 (2) (d).
 IRPA, Cls. 3 (2) (e) & (f).
 IRPA, Cl. 96.
 IRPA, Cls. 115 (1) & (2).
 Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Turkey: The Fethullah Gulen Movement, including structure, areas of operation and activities; procedures for becoming a member; roles and responsibilities of membership; treatment of supporters; the Gulen Movement in Canada, including connections with organisations in Turkey and ability to confirm an individual’s involvement with the Gulen Movement in Turkey (2014-September 2016), 29 September 2016, TUR105626.E, available at: http://irb-cisr.gc.ca/Eng/ResRec/RirRdi/Pages/index.aspx?doc=456718 [accessed 27 November 2017]
 Sanchez, Ray. “Gulen discusses failed Turkey coup on ‘GPS’.” CNN, 31 July 2016, www.cnn.com/2016/07/31/world/fethullah-gulen-turkey-fareed-zakaria-gps/index.html.
 Responses to Information Requests, s. 5.
 Ibid., s. 6.
 “Refugee Protection Claims (New System) by Country of Alleged Persecution – 2017.” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 22 Nov. 2017, www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/Eng/RefClaDem/stats/Pages/RPDStat2017.aspx.
 “Refugee Protection Claims (New System) by Country of Alleged Persecution – 2016.” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 3 Aug. 2017, www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/Eng/RefClaDem/stats/Pages/RPDStat2016.aspx.
 “Refugee Protection Claims (New System) by Country of Alleged Persecution – 2015.” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 3 Aug. 2017, www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/Eng/RefClaDem/stats/Pages/RPDStat2015.aspx.
 Martin, Patrick. “Turkey’s Gulen crackdown hits Canada.” The Globe and Mail, 24 Mar. 2017, www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/turkeys-gulen-crackdown-hits-canada/article32191633/.
 “The UK Asylum System – Truth About Asylum.” Refugee Council, www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/policy_research/the_truth_about_asylum/facts_about_asylum_-_page_5 [accessed 29 November 2017].
 “Refugee Law and Policy: United Kingdom.” Library of Congress, 21 June 2016, www.loc.gov/law/help/refugee-law/unitedkingdom.php [accessed 29 November 2017].
 1951 Refugee Convention, Article 1A (2).
 Ibid., para. 4.1.1.
 Ibid., paras. 4.3, 5.3, 5.4.
 Ibid., para. 5.3.
 Ibid., paras. 2.2.15, 3.1.4.
 Ibid., para. 3.1.6.
 Ibid., para. 2.4.
 Ibid., para. 2.5.
 United Kingdom: Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 [United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland], 2002 Chapter 41, 7 November 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3de74e744.html [accessed 29 November 2017].
 Country Policy and Information Note – Turkey: Gülenism, paras. 2.2.14, 3.1.6.
 United States: Immigration and Nationality Act (last amended March 2004) [United States of America], 27 June 1952, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4be4fe.html [accessed 29 November 2017].
 Spetalnick, Matt, and Julia Harte. “Cleric Gulen says he would not flee U.S. to avoid extradition to Turkey.” Reuters, 12 July 2017, www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-gulen-usa/cleric-gulen-says-he-would-not-flee-u-s-to-avoid-extradition-to-turkey-idUSKBN19W2VQ.
 Ibid., p. 1.
 Ibid., p. 9.
 Ibid., p. 17.
 Ibid., p. 18.
 Ibid., p. 20.
 Ibid., p. 29.
 Matter of S.B., United States Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), 7 November 2016.
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AST Turkey’s Human Rights Violations Monthly
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