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Reports

PRESS RELEASE: The critical health situation of FATMA GORMEZ and urgent action for the release of BEKIR GORMEZ on conditions of pending trial without arrest 7/19/2019

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PRESS RELEASE: The critical health situation of FATMA GORMEZ and urgent action for the release of BEKIR GORMEZ on conditions of pending trial without arrest 7/19/2019

 

THE CRITICAL HEALTH SITUATION OF FATMA GORMEZ AND URGENT ACTION FOR THE RELEASE OF BEKIR GORMEZ ON CONDITIONS OF PENDING TRIAL WITHOUT ARREST

Under the state of emergency, imposed after the July 2016 attempted coup and lifted on July 2018, President Erdogan presided over the cabinet, which could pass decrees without parliamentary scrutiny or the possibility of appeal to the constitutional court. Public officials continued to be dismissed or suspended by decree without due process, with more than 170,000 dismissed since July 2016. Those dismissed from their jobs lost their income, social benefits, medical insurance and even their homes.

According turkishminute.com, Fatma Gormez, a former teacher who was removed from her job in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016, now weighs only 29 kilograms due to a series of health problems, Fatma is calling for the release of her husband to enable her to continue living via a video message posted on Twitter.[1] (Bekir Gormez is accused of allegedly posting tweets on his account.)

Stockholm Center for Freedom reports that Berk Gormez, a 14-year-old disabled son of that couple who were both purged, lost his life in January 2018. Berk’s father, Bekir Gormez was not permitted to visit him for the last 17 months despite of his and his mother’s severe health problems.[1] During the funeral of Berk, Bekir Gormez was not allowed to take his handcuffs off.

Given the arbitrary detentions of thousands of people due to lack of rule of law in Turkey, hundreds of thousands of people, including family members, are being affected and exposed to severe human rights violations. Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, HDP MP, stated on Twitter through his personal account that the case of Fatma Gormez was submitted to Supreme Court requesting her husband’s release by the court pending his trial.

We strongly urge the Turkish government to take the case of Fatma Gormez into consideration immediate effectively and release her husband on conditions of trial without arrest.

 

       Hafza Y. GIRDAP

          Spokesperson

UNHCHR
The Honorable Michelle Bachelet Jeria
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH- 121 I Geneva 10. Switzerland
Email: civilsociety@ohchr.org

UN WOMEN
Phumzile Mlambo
Executive Director of UN Women
twitter: @phumzileunwomen
Address:

CSW Communications Procedure
Human Rights Section
UN Women
220 East 42nd Street, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10017 USA
e-mail: cp-csw@unwomen.org.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Address: 2201 C St NW, Washington, DC 20520
Ph: (202) 647-4000

Twitter: @StateDept
https://register.state.gov/contactus/contactusform

FREEDOM HOUSE
Washington Office Address:
1850 M Street NW, Floor 11, Washington D.C. 20036
info@freedomhouse.org

Twitter: @FreedomHouseDC

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, TURKEY
The Honorable Abdülhamit Gül
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
06659 Kizilay
Ankara, Republic of Turkey
Email: info@adalet.gov.tr

AMBASSADOR OF TURKEY TO US.
The Honorable Serdar Kilic
Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the
United States
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC, USA 20008
Email: embassy.washingtondc@mfa.gov.tr

 

[1] https://stockholmcf.org/14-year-old-disabled-berk-dies-in-absence-of-his-father-who-is-in-prison-over-alleged-gulen-links/

 

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PRESS RELEASE: The so-called coup attempt july 15 serves as a justification for the complete conversion of a country’s administrative system and persecution of hundreds of thousands in Turkey.

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The so-called coup attempt July 15 serves as a justification for the complete conversion of a country’s administrative system and persecution of hundreds of thousands in Turkey.

On July 15, 2016 Turkey witnessed an attempted but failed military coup against Erdoğan government. During this horrific uprising, hundreds of people were killed and thousands of others were injured. Right after the coup attempt, the Turkish government has taken a wave of oppressive actions against not only the alleged coup plotters but also those that are perceived as critics of the regime. With that, the country’s political spectrum has been completely changed. Amid massive crackdown on media outlets and hundreds of thousands of the dissidents, President Erdoğan further consolidated his power with a controversial referendum in 2017 that changed the country from a parliamentary democracy into one-man rule. Being seen a setback from the rule of law, the new presidential system deepened concerns on human rights.

Marking a monumental turning point in Turkey’s history, the uprising has not been thoroughly investigated. Questioning the government’s narrative has caused many to imprisonment. The leaked details fueled the suspicions on the government’s narrative thus diminished its credibility. The narrative along with the massive crackdown on the dissident groups and Erdoğan’s consolidation of power faced heavy criticism from almost all quarters of the democratic world. In fact, a former representative of the European Parliament and well-known politician Andrew Duff defined it as “quick and relentless so-called coup”. The present report of Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST) provides an overview of controversies and dark points on the “so-called coup” along with the human right concerns during the ongoing post-coup crackdown on the Turkey’s dissident groups.

Some of the highlights from the report are:

  • A coup with no plan of action: Every coup has a certain plan of action, yet no official document has been presented so far for the July 15 coup attempt or the list of individuals involved with the Yurtta Sulh Council that has allegedly masterminded the coup.
  • A “blessing from God”: Right after the coup attempt, Erdoğan described the incident as a “blessing from God”, implying that he had finally found the opportunity to carry out the purge on his dissidents.
  • Step by step towards a presidential regime: Within less than a year, a referendum for constitutional change was held and the new Turkish-style presidential system was put into effect. Following this, Erdogan became the first president of the new regime through early elections.
  • A coup notice from TSK to MIT: Osman Karacan, a major in TSK (Turkish Armed Forces) went to the MIT (National Intelligence Organization) headquarters on July 15 at 2:20pm to give notice about the planned coup. Yet, no real precautions were taken to prevent or suppress the coup until 10.00pm.
  • Chief of MIT and Chief of Defense are still in office: Chief of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Hakan Fidan, Chief of Defense Hulusi Akar and 2nd Chief of Defense Yaşar Güler reportedly held a series of meetings following the notice at 2:20pm on the planned coup but did not notify President Erdoğan until 7:00pm, yet they kept their office.
  • The conflicting explanations from Erdogan regarding time of coup: When speaking to national and international media, Erdoğan stated contradicting times with regards to the time when he was informed of the planned coup.
  • The “controlled coup”: Turkey’s main opposition party (CHP) described what happened on the July 15 as “controlled coup”.
  • Planes on standby for escape: It is discovered that 4 different airplanes at 4 different locations were arranged for Erdoğan to be on standby that night, implying Erdoğan’s possible knowledge of the planned coup attempt.
  • Secret meetings a day before the coup: It is revealed that Akar, Chief of Defense, and Fidan, Chief of MIT (National Intelligence Organization), held a one-on-one confidential meeting that lasted four hours, a day before the coup.
  • “I received the orders to reinforce the Chief of Defense Forces from Zekai Aksakallı”: Colonel Fırat Akkuş stated this during the court hearing, bringing into question the role of Special Forces Commander Zekai Aksakallı in the coup.
  • Erdoğan did not allow an investigation: The Turkish Grand National Assembly’s July 15 Investigation Commission wanted to listen to the testimonies of Chief of Defense Hulusi Akar and MIT Chief Hakan Fidan. However, President Erdoğan did not allow either of the names to appear in front of the commission.
  • “Let an international commission investigate the coup and we will accept its findings”: The proposal of Fetullah Gülen who was blamed for masterminding the coup attempt is not accepted by the Turkish government.
  • Events not yet taken place written into the July 15 Official Report, how did that happen? It was revealed that the official report for July 15 prepared by Serdar Coşkun, the Constitutional Order Attorney General of the time, contained written reports of events that would take place at a later date written as though they had taken place at the time of the written record.
  • Purge lists prepared early on: Attorney General Serdar Coşkun admitted that the first cases of individuals being taken into custody and being arrested on July 16 were carried out based on the official report of the events. However, 3,000 judges and prosecutors were arrested on July 16 based on coup involvement although there is no evidence to support the allegations.
  • A project I disliked is July 15: When Binali Yıldırım, the PM of the time, was asked by a group of journalists if there were any projects that he felt a bit too demanding, his reply, in a sarcastic tone, was “Well, July 15 was a project I did not like at all.”

We urge;

  • international organizations to establish an independent commission to investigate and clarify the infamous July 15 coup attempt in Turkey,
  • international bodies to examine politically motivated coup charges in order to end the purge and grave human rights violations that are affecting millions of innocent lives justified through this controversial coup attempt,
  • the Turkish government to end arbitrary detentions, to find the perpetrators of enforced disappearances and bring them to justice, to reinstate the unlawfully dismissed public sector workers and to ensure the rule of law in Turkey.

 

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So-Called Coup Attempt, July 15th

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THE SO-CALLED COUP

THAT SERVES AS A JUSTIFICATION FOR THE COMPLETE CONVERSION OF

A COUNTRY’S ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEM

AS WELL AS A JUSTIFICATION FOR THE VICTIMIZATION OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS

  1. The date of July 15, 2016, has become, without a doubt, one of the most significant turning points in the history of the Republic of Turkey and thus calls for extensive discourse and deliberation. July 15 is truly such a bizarre incident, one that has been personally described by the alleged July 15 victim (!) President and General Director of the Justice and Development (AK) Party, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as being a “blessing from God”; one bizarre incident that has been used as justification—by way of taking  advantage of the atmosphere of coup and terror—to establish a one-man regime by seizing control of all democratic institutions including the Turkish Grand National Assembly, the government, and the judicial system; one truly bizarre incident of which the clearing of speculations surrounding it has been hindered by its “victim” (!) himself. Despite the fact that many questions wait to be answered surrounding this ominous incident that has cost hundreds of thousands of people their homes and their jobs, tens of thousands of people their freedom and hundreds of people their very lives, an incident that has been used as a justification to completely transform the administrative system of an entire country, the beginning of a period of oppression and tyranny that has continued for years on end, and the fact that these sought out answers continue to be covered up persistently, this project has been put together and presented for your consideration, bearing the thoughts that finding and presenting the contradictions and oddities that have surfaced will be beneficial in both understanding the truth behind July 15 as well as recording it as history. Hoping that the dark clouds and curtains of fog be lifted as soon as possible and that the victimizations being carried out under the excuse of July 15 finally come to an end.
    • A Coup With No Plan of Action

     

  2. Every coup has a certain plan of action, yet so far no official document has been presented as to the plan of action regarding the July 15 coup attempt or the list of individuals involved with the Yurtta Sulh (Peace in the Fatherland) Council, which has been alleged to have masterminded the coup. In order for a coup to be successful, the following needs to be specified; the plan of action, the team of individuals who will carry out the plan of action, and the chain of command by which the plan will be executed. However, in the case of July 15, none of these are present.https://stockholmcf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/15_July_Erdogans_Coup_13.07.2017.pdf (p. 11)
    • “Blessing From God”

     

  3. On the night of July 15, after the coup attempt had been suppressed, Erdogan described the incident as a “blessing from God.” He was implying that he had found the opportunity to carry out the purge which he had been wanting to carry out but was unable to on account of the law. Through a purge operation which was initiated the very next morning, tens of thousands of people were arrested. Over 100,000 civil service employees and public servants were dismissed from their jobs.http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/turkiye/644388/_Allah_in_buyuk_lutfu_.html
    • Step by Step Towards a Presidential Regime

     

  4. Following July 15, the Turkish-style presidential system was established. While the Turkish people had been in opposition to this system prior to the coup attempt—as indicated by public opinion polls— after July 15, things had turned around completely. Within a time period of less than a year, a referendum for constitutional change was held, and the new Turkish-style presidential system was put into effect. And two years after the coup attempt, Erdogan became the first president of the new regime through early elections. He now had consolidated all authority at the tip of his very fingers.https://www.haberturk.com/gundem/haber/1314879-kilicdaroglu-baskanlik-sistemi-15-temmuz-sehitlerine-ihanettir
    • Calling People to the Streets, Instead of Suppressing Coup Attempt

     

  5. Izmir Chief Public Prosecutor Okan Bato stated that on July 15 at 3:00 pm, he had notified Erdogan of the preparations for the coup. However, Erdogan took no action whatsoever to suppress the coup attempt. If, after being notified beforehand of the planned coup attempt, Erdogan had taken action to prevent the coup instead of calling on the people to go out into the streets, the 250 individuals (killed on that day) would be alive today.https://www.hrw.org/tr/world-report/2017/country-chapters/298690
    • Coup Notice from the TSK to the MIT

     

  6. A major (Osman Karacan) in the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] went to the MIT [National Intelligence Organization] headquarters on July 15 at 2:20 pm to give notice about the planned coup. Yet, from that hour until nighttime around 10:00 pm, no real precautions were taken to prevent or suppress the coup.http://www.tr724.com/kurgu-kontrollu-darbe-ihbarci-binbasi-2-yildir-mite-calisiyormus-ismi-de-farkliymis/
    • Chief of MIT and Chief of Defense Are Still in Office

     

  7. Chief of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) of Turkey Hakan Fidan, Chief of Defense Hulusi Akar and 2nd Chief of Defense Yaşar Güler, held a series of meetings at the Chief of Defense Headquarters following the notice they had received regarding the planned coup. They have stated that around 7:00 pm that evening they called Erdogan, could not reach him and thus they notified his Head Bodyguard Muhsin Köse. So far Erdogan has not removed either Hakan Fidan, Hulusi Akar, or Muhsin Köse from their positions.http://www.tr724.com/cumhurbaskanligi-koruma-muduru-zan-altinda-sefer-can/
    • Conflicting Explanations from Erdogan Regarding Time of Coup

     

  8. President Erdogan, while speaking of when he first became aware of the coup attempt, continuously made reference to different hours of the day. On the night of July 15, he said, “In the afternoon, unfortunately, there was a certain restlessness present within our armed forces.” On July 18, during an interview he gave to CNN International, he said, “I was notified that night around 8:00 pm.” On July 20, when speaking to Al-Jazeera, he used the expression, “My brother-in-law notified me around 8:00 pm.” On July 21, to Reuters, he explained, “My brother-in-law called me around 4:00–4:30 pm and said to me there’s some commotion going on around Beylerbeyi.” Whereas the starting hours of the commotion in Istanbul Beylerbeyi where the coup attempt first broke out was around 9:30 pm. And on July 30, during a joint broadcast between ATV and A Haber, he said, “We heard of something starting up that day around 9:15 pm. My brother-in-law called me up at 9:30 pm.” The fact that Erdogan gave so many conflicting explanations regarding such a specific matter raised a question mark in people’s minds.http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/foto/foto_galeri/575077/9/Darbe_girisimini_ne_zaman_ogrendi__Erdogan_in_sozlerindeki_saat_farkliliklari.htmlI learned about it in   the afternoon.”  July 15th.
  9. ” I was notified around 8:00 pm.”  July 18th.
  10. “My BROTHER-IN-LAW told me about it around 8:00 pm at night.” July 20th.
  11. ” My brother-in-law called around 4:00–4:30  and said ‘There’s some kind of commotion around Beylerbeyi.’ ” July 21st.
  12. “We heard of something starting up around 9:15 pm. My brother-in-law called me at 9:30 pm.” July 30th.
    • Controlled Coup

     

  13. It was discovered that Erdogan had been notified of the coup attempt before the actual execution and even though he could have taken action to prevent the coup from happening, he chose not to. In a report put together by Turkey’s main opposition party CHP in June 2017, July 15 was described as a “controlled coup.” In other words, Erdogan, rather than preventing the coup—of which he had been aware of beforehand—allowed it to be carried out in a controlled manner and, afterward, used the aftermath to his advantage.https://www.bbc.com/turkce/haberler-turkiye-39478777
    • Planes on Standby for Escape

     

  14. It was discovered that Erdogan had arranged for 4 different airplanes at 4 different locations near Marmaris to be on standby that night. In addition to the airplane in Dalaman which Erdogan was using, there were airplanes ready for use in Denizli, Izmir, and Aydin. In order for these airplanes to have been ready for a potential flight that night, they would have to have been notified at least by 5:00 pm that evening. The fact that Erdogan had made such arrangements beforehand is another indicator that he had been aware of the planned coup attempt. In that case, again, the question arises of why he did not take action to suppress the uprising within the military.http://aktifhaber.com/15-temmuz/15-temmuzda-hazir-bekleyen-dort-ucak-h98846.html
    • Chief of Defense Hulusi Akar Who Failed to Prevent the Coup Becomes Head of Ministry of Defense, How So?

     

  15. In a confidential statement given to the Ankara 14th High Criminal Court on March 17, 2017, the Special Forces Commander of the time Zekai Aksakallı said, “Inside the Turkish Armed Forces, when times of crises and states of emergency arise, as soon as any notification is received, the orders that ‘personnel cannot leave their post’ is given. Commanding officers continue their duties at their given posts. This fundamental and simple principle applied in every instance was, however, not put into practice on July 15, 2016, when the first notification was received. If it had been put into effect, the coup attempt would have come to light from the very beginning.” In other words, he advocated that the coup could have been prevented had these orders been delivered. The Chief of Defense of the time, Hulusi Akar, failed to give these orders. Despite this fact, President Erdogan called him a “hero” and had the people applaud him during an AKP rally. Not only did he not dismiss Akar from his position, but he also appointed Akar to be the Minister of Defense as part of the first presidential cabinet formed after the early elections of June 24, 2018.
  16. http://www.aljazeera.com.tr/haber/aksakalli-kural-uygulansa-darbe-girisimi-bastan-aciga-cikardi
    • Secret Meetings A Day Before the CoupIt was discovered that Akar, Chief of Defense, and Fidan, Chief of MIT (National Intelligence Organization), held a one-on-one confidential meeting that lasted four hours, a day before the coup. It was also found out that, following this long meeting, Fidan and Special Forces Commander Zekai Aksakallı also held a one-on-one confidential meeting that lasted about an hour. The fact that these three names played the most critical role during the coup that took place the very next day raises quite a bit of suspicion.
  1. https://t24.com.tr/haber/hulusi-akar-ile-hakan-fidan-darbe-girisiminden-bir-gun-once-6-saat-basbasa-gorustuiddiasi,391229
    • “I Received the Orders to Reinforce the Chief of Defense Forces From Zekai Aksakallı

     

  2. In the fourth court hearing of the trials held for the cases of the 221 defendants regarding actions taken within the Chief of Defense forces during the course of the July 15 coup attempt, Staff Colonel Fırat Alakuş, in his defense, stated that he had personally received the orders to “reinforce the Chief of Defense forces in case of any potential actions certain terrorist organizations may take” from Special Forces Commander Zekai Aksakallı. Alakuş said, “I was assigned the duty by Special Forces Commander Zekai Aksakallı himself. As for the details of the assignment, I was told that I would be receiving them from Colonel ümit Bak.”https://www.cnnturk.com/turkiye/genelkurmay-baskaninin-urkutucu-dedigi-darbeci-komutan-konustu
    • Air Forces Commander not Notified of The Ban on Flights, Could It be Related to the Secret Meeting at the Palace?

     

  3. Although Akar, Chief of Defense, put a ban on all military flights/missions throughout the country as of 7:00 pm, neither the Air Forces Commander nor the Naval Forces Commander was notified of this ban.  It was discovered that the then Air Forces Commander Abidin ünal had been secretly visiting the palace of President Erdoğan using a vehicle belonging to MIT and holding secret meetings there from the month of April prior to the coup onwards. Not only did Abidin ünal fail to take any sort of action to prevent a coup from taking place on the night of July 15, but also he did not allow any preventive measures to be carried out.http://www.shaber3.com/abidin-unal-gizlice-erdogan-a-gitti-haberi/1320819/
    • Erdoğan Did Not Allow an Investigation


    The TBMM (Turkish Grand National Assembly) July 15 Investigation Commission wanted to listen to the testimonies of Chief of Defense Hulusi Akar and MIT Chief Hakan Fidan. However, President Erdoğan did not allow either of the names to appear in front of the commission. Akar and Fidan were not able to stand in front of the commission and answer their questions.

    https://twitter.com/15temmuzgercegi/status/1018414216288407552

    • Fethullah Gulen: “Let an international commission investigate the coup, and we will accept its findings.”In multiple interviews, including the New York Times, Financial Times, Sky News, and The Guardian, Fethullah Gulen said: “If there are allegations that I directed this coup attempt, let an international commission investigate it, and we will accept its findings.”

           https://t24.com.tr/haber/fethullah-gulen-uluslararasi-bir-komisyon-darbeyiarastirsin-sonucunu-simdiden-kabul-ediyoruz,350385

      • Events Not Yet Taken Place Written into the July 15 Official Report, How Did That Happen?

       

    1. It was discovered that the official report for July 15 prepared by Serdar Coşkun, the Constitutional Order Attorney General of the time, contained written reports of events that would take place at a later date written as though they had taken place at the time of the written record. The official report had been written up at 01:00 am yet it contained the records of events such as the bombing of the TBMM (Turkish Grand National Assembly), the bombing of the Presidential Palace intersection, and the air raid at the Ankara Police Headquarters none of which at that point in time had taken place. Moreover, these incidents had not even taken place in the way in which they were described in the report. What’s, even more, is the fact that events which never even took place were recorded as though they had actually happened.http://www.tr724.com/savci-15-temmuzu-sarsacak-belgeyi-dogruladi-o-gece-olaylar-yasanmadan-tutanaklardayazilmis/
      • Binali Yıldırım (Former Prime Minister): A Project I Disliked, July 15

       

    2. When Yıldırım was asked by a group of journalists, “Were there any projects that you felt were a bit too demanding?”, his reply, in a sarcastic tone, was, ” Well, July 15 was a project I did not like at all.”
      • Purge Lists Prepared Early On


      Attorney General Serdar Coşkun admitted that the first cases of individuals being taken into custody and being arrested on July 16 were carried out based on the official report of the events. For instance, he gave orders to have approximately 3,000 judges and prosecutors to be arrested. However, on July 16 there was no evidence to support the allegations that the said 3,000 judges and prosecutors had been involved in the coup. No evidence to that effect was found later on either. The purge lists had been prepared in advance. And they were put into effect right after the coup attempt. In the morning of July 16, at 01:00 am, only three hours after the military insurrection had started, 2,745 judges and prosecutors were dismissed from their duties. The official report prepared by Attorney General Serdar Coşkun was also written up at the same time that night, 01:00 am.

      https://www.ahmetdonmez.net/iste-serdar-coskunun-skandal-tutanaktan-sonraki-ilk-talimati/

      • MIT conspiracy towards Akın Öztürk?It was discovered that MIT official and retired soldier Sadık üstün, a close friend of MIT Chief Hakan Fidan since the time they met during their time serving in the TSK (Turkish Armed Forces), had called up certain commanders and told them that the number 1 role in the coup would be General Akın Öztürk. It was discovered that at that time Akın Öztürk, who had—as later discovered—been assigned to the Akıncılar Base by Air Force Commander Abidin ünal, was still in his home. It was discovered that Sadık üstün had been working together with Air Force Commander Abidin ünal.https://www.ahmetdonmez.net/mitci-sadik-ustun-savci-serdar-coskunu-da-aradi-mi/
        • “So-called Coup” explanation from Andrew Duff


        Former European Parliament representative and well-known politician Andrew Duff made the following statements regarding the report written by July 15 public prosecutor Serdar Coşkun, “We have finally figured out how Erdoğan was able to exploit this so-called coup in such a quick and relentless manner. This report shows us that certain incidents were prepared beforehand, ERDOĞAN allowed for the insurrection to be carried out in a controlled manner and afterward put his own version of a constitutional coup into action.”

        https://www.ahmetdonmez.net/andrew-duff-savci-coskunun-tutanagi-bazi-seylerin-onceden-hazirlandigini-gosteriyor/

                           “QUICK AND RELENTLESS SO-CALLED COUP”

        • What Kind of Connection Does the Religious Affairs Council have with MIT?
          It was discovered that on the night of July 15, Moaz al-Khatib, the man Erdoğan wants to see as the leader of Syria, and the President of the Religious Affairs Council, Görmez, were also present at the MIT headquarters.

        https://odatv.com/gormezden-sonra-sira-fidan-ve-akarda-mi-2707171200.html

       

 

  • AST gives a voice to the voiceless, give your support for a cause that matters. 

  • July 15 Purge in Numbers

    249 people lost their lives

    612,347 people were interrogated

    160,000 people were arrested

    152,000 state officials were arrested

    62,669 political prisoners were charged with terrorist activity

    7,907 incidents of human rights violations

    3,502 victims were subjected to torture and ill-treatment

    686 torture incidents occurred during detention

    51 prisoners died in suspicious circumstances

    69,301 students were incarcerated (highest number of students incarcerated at any given time in the history of the country)

    2,767 teenagers, aged between 12 and 18, were incarcerated

    197 teenagers, aged between 12 and 18, were incarcerated due to the alleged involvement in terrorism

    102,000 people were jailed due to the alleged use of ByLock mobile application

    Assets valued at $11,000,000,000 were seized

    130,000 public officers were suspended from work

    80,000 citizens were arrested

    4,000+ judges or prosecutors were dismissed from work

    2,300+ private educational institutions were closed

    7,257 academics were dismissed

    1,600+ non-profit and non-governmental organizations were closed

    1,500+ public associations and foundations were closed

    200 public media companies were closed

    2,500 journalists and media workers were left unemployed

    19 unions were closed

    15 private universities were closed

    1,539 lawyers were put on trial

    580 lawyers were arrested

    103 lawyers were sentenced to long terms in prison

    5,705 academics were suspended

    8,240 armed forces employees were dismissed

    1,067 NATO-supporting members of the armed forces were dismissed

    28 individuals were abducted

    100+ members of the Gulen Movement were abducted and brought back to Turkey from 18 different countries by the National Intelligence Organization

 

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Re: Urge Turkish Authorities to stop torture and bring perpetrators to justice on INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE JUNE 26 th

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INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE, JUNE 26TH

     Gokhan Acikkollu, the 42-year-old history teacher with diabetes, was dismissed from his job, subsequently detained and tortured for 13 days under police custody in Turkey. He ultimately died from a heart attack. Two years later, after his death, authorities found him not guilty and reinstated him to his teaching post; however, no real justice has been given.

Since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, democratic and fundamental human rights have been suspended in Turkey. The Turkish government has disregarded basic human rights, equality, and respect for human dignity. It has completely broken its ties with the western world, the European Union in particular. It is stated in Human Rights Watch October 2017 report that people accused of terrorism or of being linked to the July 2016 attempted coup are at risk of torture in police custody. There has been a spate of reported cases of men being abducted, some of whom were held in secret detention places, with evidence pointing to the
involvement of state authorities. 

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for UN Human Rights, declared that during the state of emergency period about 160,000 people were detained in Turkey; 152,000 state officials, including teachers, judges, and lawyers were arbitrarily expelled or investigated; over 200 journalists were arrested, 201 media outlets and hundreds of websites were shut down. There were many cases of torture, rape, and kidnapping, which were only partially reflected in the reports.

According to a report released by the United States Department of State on human rights practices in Turkey in 2018 between July 2016 and July 2018, Turkish Ministry of Justice reported that “investigations” were opened into 612,347 persons, the majority of whom were affiliated with the Gulen movement. Authorities prosecuted 1,519 lawyers and dismissed 7,257 academics and more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors. After the coup, the government operated prisons became filled with people who were detained and awaiting trial and began to work over capacity. 28 individuals disappeared, some kidnapped in broad daylight in front of their families.

Reports of torture, mistreatment, and abuse skyrocketed from tens in 2017 to more than 2,500 in 2018. 51 people lost their lives under suspicious circumstances in official custody.

The most recent torture incidents took place at Police Headquarters in Ankara against detained six ex-diplomats of Turkish Foreign Ministry on May 26th which were documented by the Ankara Bar Association. HDP MP Omer F. Gergerlioglu; Erinc Sagkan, President of Ankara Bar Association, and CHP MP Sezgin Tanrikulu spoke out about the allegations immediately.

We urge all the international bodies and human rights organizations along with Turkish judiciary to take all necessary steps to STOP TORTURE in TURKEY and bring all the perpetrators to justice.

Advocates of Silenced Turkey
help@silencedturkey.org
www.silencedturkey.org
Twitter: @silencedturkey
Facebook: @silencedturkey

 

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PRESS RELEASE ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD REFUGEE DAY 2019

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WORLD REFUGEE DAY 2019

It is acknowledged in UNHCR’s Global Trends 2018 Report that the number of forcibly displaced people increased by 2.3 million people in 2018. By the end of the year, almost 70.8 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations. Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, states:

“What we are seeing in these figures is further confirmation of a longer-term rising trend in the number of people needing safety from war, conflict, and persecution.”

Since the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government has targeted individuals and groups opposing the government. Through a mass witch-hunt, hundreds of thousands of people have been faced with arrest, imprisonment, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, denial of fair treatment, labeling, confiscation, and passport seizure. Turkish prisons became filled with people who were detained and awaiting trial and began to operate over capacity. 28 individuals disappeared, some kidnapped in broad daylight in front of their families. Reports of torture, mistreatment, and abuse skyrocketed from tens in 2017 to more than 2,500 in 2018. 51 people lost their lives under suspicious circumstances in official custody. Consequently, thousands of people were forced to leave the country for freedom and to live in humane conditions.

Migration is not easy for those who migrate as well as those countries who receive them. The activist poet Warshan Shire’s words about forced displacement summarize the refugee issue very concisely: “No one puts their children in a boat unless the boat is safer than the land.”

We, as AST (Advocates of Silenced Turkey), are dedicated to support refugees as well as to defend their rights and be a voice for them.

Hafza Y. GIRDAP
Spokesperson
directorhg@silencedturkey.org

 

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PRESS RELEASE Re:Call on the Government of Greece to investigate and end the push-backs of Turkish refugees

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PRESS RELEASE
Re: Call on the Government of Greece to investigate and end the push-backs of Turkish refugees

Following the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and began to target any individual opposing the government, the Hizmet Movement (also known as Gulen Movement) in particular. According to a report released by the United States Department of State on human rights practices in Turkey in 2018 (2), between July 2016 and July 2018, Turkish Ministry of Justice reported that “investigations” were opened into 612,347 persons, the majority of whom were affiliated with the Hizmet Movement. After the coup, the government operated prisons became filled with people who were detained and awaiting trial and began to operate over capacity. 28 individuals disappeared, some kidnapped in broad daylight in front of their families. Reports of torture, mistreatment, and abuse skyrocketed from tens in 2017 to more than 2,500 in 2018. 51 people lost their lives under suspicious circumstances in official custody.

In addition to opening investigations into persons associated with the movement, the government has made many attempts to limit its citizen’s physical freedom and freedom of speech. 155,000 individuals whose family members were allegedly connected to the Hizmet Movement were banned from traveling, and the government has investigated over 45,000 social media accounts and blocked more than 50,000 websites. Furthermore, during the first six months of 2018, Twitter received 8,988 court orders and requests from authorities to remove content.

The persecution carried out by the Turkish government through witch-hunts has led many of the citizens to escape Turkey using illegal methods as their passports were confiscated. So far, the asylum-seeking Turkish citizens who cross the Evros to escape from a tyrannical regime in Turkey are embraced humanely by the Greek authorities. However, there have been recent reports of several push-back cases, in which groups of Turkish asylum-seekers were beaten by masked men and forced back to Turkey. In the last couple of months, there have been several reports that Turkish asylum seekers who entered Greece through the Evros river were beaten by masked men and pushed back into Turkey.

According to Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST)’s report 1 on this issue, the pushbacks raised concerns among human rights activists and those who are sensitive to such matters. Ten Greek refugee NGOs urged for the immediate investigation of reports of collective expulsions in Evros region. Also, Rebecca Harms, a member of the EU Parliament, stated that this situation violates international law.

International human rights law protects these families. Greece is a party to many human rights treaties and conventions as part of the European Union and the United Nations, thus has an obligation to protect these people when they reached Greece soils. More specifically, both under the EU and UN legislation, Greece cannot return, deport or expel these refugee families knowing that they will suffer from the Turkish government’s persecutions.

Alfred De Zayas, Former UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order and Professor of International Law at Geneva School of Diplomacy, states that “Looking at the current situation in Greece, it must be emphasized that Greece is obliged to comply with its commitments under international human rights law and refugee law. Members of the Hizmet Movement fleeing from the Turkish government’s harsh persecutions fulfill the definition of a refugee under the 1951 Refugee Convention and have every right to demand protection from deportation to Turkey, where they face persecution.”

Moreover, Professor Anwar Alam, Senior Fellow at Middle Institute with Policy Perspectives Foundation in New Delhi, also emphasizes that “In this context, it must be brought to attention that fleeing Hizmet or non-Hizmet people from Turkey to Greece via Evros River or the Aegean Sea enjoy the legal right of protection after crossing into Greece border. EU Asylum Procedures Directive (Directive 2013/32/EU) states that the first country of asylum is a country where the person has already received international protection – refugee-like protection, or another kind of “sufficient protection” which must at least include non-refoulement guarantees (Article 35 of the Directive). Therefore, Greek authorities are urged to comply with this legal injunction and investigate the issue of masked men who are pushing back the refugees to Turkey.”

Migrant pushback is a growing concern, especially in the Greek-Turkish land border. Push-backs, as the word conveys the message, is stopping migrants in the borders and pushing them back by force to the country where they came from. According to Article 4 of Protocol 4 (Art 4-4) to the European Convention on Human Rights, push- back is defined in legal terms as “The well-established definition of collective expulsion is any measure of the competent authorities compelling aliens as a group to leave the country, except where such a measure is taken after and on the basis of a reasonable and objective examination of the particular cases of each individual alien of the group."

Therefore, we urge the Greek authorities to review their border security procedures and give serious consideration to maintaining the safety of asylum seekers to remain in compliance with international laws and regulations. The Greek authorities should investigate the pushback and violence allegations whether those allegations are against border security guards or violent non-governmental groups.

Hafza Y. GIRDAP
Spokesperson
directorhg@silencedturkey.org

 

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PRESS RELEASE Re:Refugees-and-Latest-Pushbacks-in-Greece

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Introduction

“No one puts their children in a boat unless the boat is safer than the land.” (Warshan Shire, Home)

Thousands of refugees fleeing their homeland due to violence, terror, or political prosecution use Greece as an entry gate to Europe. Since the beginning of 2014, over 1.1 million refugees have crossed the borders of Greece(3). Most of the refugees have chosen to go by sea in order to land on one of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, but recently a growing number of refugees have begun to use Evros as a passage from Turkey to Greece. In recent years, besides refugees who are using Turkey as a transitway to Greece, Turkish citizens who were forced to flee Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt have also used the same route. This witch-hunt was launched by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against the sympathizers of the Gulen Movement following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Many of these citizens attempted to escape Turkey using illegal methods as the Turkish government canceled their passports.

So far, the asylum-seeking Turkish citizens who cross the Evros to escape from a tyrannical regime in Turkey are embraced humanely by the Greek authorities. However, there have been recent reports of several push-back cases, in which groups of Turkish asylum-seekers were beaten by masked men and forced back to Turkey.

Human Rights Abuses in Turkey After July 15, 2016

Following the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and began to target any individual opposing the government, the Gulen Movement in particular. The Gulen Movement is also known as the “Hizmet Movement,” “hizmet” meaning service in Turkish. It is a faith-based group of people engaging in different voluntary activities such as education, business, and health, and has been the primary target of the government. Alleged supporters of the movement in Turkey are faced with arrest, imprisonment, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, denial of fair treatment, labeling, confiscation, and passport seizure.

According to a report released by the United States Department of State on human rights practices in Turkey in 2018 (2), between July 2016 and July 2018, Turkish Ministry of Justice reported that “investigations” were opened into 612,347 persons, the majority of whom were affiliated with the Gulen movement. Authorities prosecuted 1,519 lawyers and dismissed 7,257 academics and more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors. After the coup, the government operated prisons became filled with people who were detained and awaiting trial and began to operate over capacity. 28 individuals disappeared, some kidnapped in broad daylight in front of their families. Reports of torture, mistreatment, and abuse skyrocketed from tens in 2017 to more than 2,500 in 2018. 51 people lost their lives under suspicious circumstances in official custody.

In addition to opening investigations into persons associated with the movement, the government has made many attempts to limit its citizen’s physical freedom and freedom of speech. 155,000 individuals whose family members were allegedly connected to the Gulen movement were banned from traveling, and the government has investigated over 45,000 social media accounts and blocked more than 50,000 websites. Furthermore, during the first six months of 2018, Twitter received 8,988 court orders and requests from authorities to remove content.

Refugees and Latest Push-backs in Greece

Due to its geographical location, Greece has been the forefront of the influx of migrants and asylum seekers fleeing their home country due to wars, political instability, and economic crises. In the last couple of years, a significant number of Turkish citizens have also begun to cross the border between Turkey and Greece and sought asylum due to the Turkish government’s targeting of dissidents belonging to different ideologies, particularly the Gulen Movement.

Immigrants fleeing from Turkey to Greece either cross the Aegean Sea or the land border between Turkey and Greece that is almost entirely formed by the Evros river. The land border between Turkey and Greece is one of the easternmost frontiers of the European Union. Up until a fence went up on all but 12 kilometers of the Evros in 2012, it was the easiest and safest path for asylum seekers from the Middle East and elsewhere to reach Europe. According to the Greece country report released in March 2019 by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (3), “18,014 persons arrived in Greece through the Greek-Turkish land border of Evros in 2018, compared to 6,592 in 2017.” The same report detailed “a substantial increase of applications submitted from Turkish nationals” in 2018; 4,834 applications in 2018, compared to 1,826 in 2017 and 189 in 2016.

In addition to its own economic problems, Greece has long been dealing with an immigration crisis which has had further economic and social impacts on the country. Faced with a flood of refugees from Greece’s land border with Turkey over the past several years, according to DW News (9), Greek guards are overwhelmed with the task of protecting the borders from refugees and the refugees from violent push-backs. According to a report released by Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), “foreign nationals were returned from Greece to Turkey by boat across the Evros River; some of the persons met alleged that they had been ill-treated (including baton blows to the head) by police and border guard officers or (para-) military commandos during such operations.”(10) According to a news article in The Guardian (11), several unidentified masked men participated in abusing the refugees and forced them back to the Turkish border in freezing temperatures at night without any clothing.

Although there were numerous reports of push-backs made by an unidentified group of people towards immigrants in the past (4), the immigrants who were mainly Turkish citizens never reported any mistreatment on the Greek side of the border until recently. In the last couple of months, there have been several reports that Turkish asylum seekers who entered Greece through the Evros river were beaten by masked men and pushed back into Turkey.

According to ipa.news (5) and Bold (13), while trying to seek asylum in Greece, the Gul family were pushed back into Turkey by masked and armed men dressed in camouflage. Halil Gul, Seher Gul, and their three children entered Greece but were denied entry on Monday. Halil and Seher Gul were taken into custody by the gendarme in the Turkish border city of Edirne. Relatives of the family were called to pick the children up. Zubeyir Koculu, a journalist in Athens, reported the latest update regarding the issue as follows: “A total number of 32 Turkish political asylum seekers were pushed back to Turkey through Evros in the last four days after they arrived in Greece. 17 of them were arrested in Turkey, 11 of them managed to cross the border again and are being kept in custody.”

As reported by keeptalkinggreece.com, ipa.news (12), and Bold (13), a group of 15 people fleeing persecution in Turkey were pushed back to Turkey after crossing the Greek border by masked men using brute force. A family of 4 were arrested by the Turkish police and the remaining 11 people, after a second attempt to enter Greece soil, were detained by Greek police at around 2 P.M. on Saturday near the border and taken into custody according to the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), a nongovernmental organization defending human rights and fighting against illegal pushbacks in the region. In his e-mail to UN representatives, Muhammed Ihsan Erdogan, a Turkish political asylum seeker who currently resides in Athens, says that on May 4th, 2019, around 5:30, three Turkish political asylum seekers, one of whom was his sister, crossed the Evros river in order to come to Greece and were very close to Orestiada. He was asking for help because his sister and two others were afraid of being pushed back into Turkey. His sister also sent a similar message to UN representatives stating that they were afraid of inhumane treatment and being pushed back into Turkey, which would put their lives in danger. However, after these two messages, these three people were pushed back into Turkey and Mr. Erdogan’s sister, Ayse Reyhane Erdogan, was put behind bars in a Turkish prison for two years.

According to a Twitter message from Tihomir Sabchev, in an article that appeared in the Greek magazine Lifo, “people testified in front of lawyers in Thessaloniki” that they were beaten by the police, their possessions were thrown away in the river, they were pushed back. Then they identified one of the policemen in front of UN representatives.”(14)

According to a news article at Euronews.com (15), scores of Turkish asylum seekers were pushed back, sometimes violently. It is said in the news that witnesses claimed that various groups, some uniformed, used physical force against those who resisted. Since April 23, 2019, up to the date the news was published, May 13, 2019, 82 people from Turkey, including children, who crossed the Turkish border for seeking political asylum were sent back to Turkey. Around half of those who returned were arrested by Turkish officials on charges that they were involved in the 2016 military coup.

The pushbacks raised concerns among human rights activists and those who are sensitive to such matters. Ten Greek refugee NGOs urged for the immediate investigation of reports of collective expulsions in the Evros region (8). In addition, Rebecca Harms, a member of the EU Parliament, stated that this situation violates international law. According to Euronews.com (15), The European Commission urged Greece to follow up on the allegations of pushbacks.

Many Turkish asylum-seekers in Greece say they feel safe in Greece (7) and have been treated well. However, the latest reports of push-back incidents raise serious concerns among advocates of human rights.

Evaluation in terms of International Human Rights Law

Push-back news creates an alarming situation in terms of international human rights law and refugee law. These Turkish families from the Hizmet Movement feel that they have no other option but to flee from Erdogan’s dictatorship in any way they could find. It must be highlighted that people are risking their lives to reach Greece with hopes of a new, safe, and free life. These people satisfy the conditions to be considered as refugees in Article 1 of the 1951 Refugee Convention which defines it as “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” (16). If they are to stay in Turkey, it is highly likely that they will face one or more of the Turkish government’s persecution methods such as arbitrary and long pretrial detentions, inhuman prison conditions, abductions, unfair trials and convictions, passport cancellations.

International human rights law protects these families. Greece is a party to many human rights treaties and conventions as part of the European Union and the United Nations, thus has an obligation to protect these people when they reached Greece soils. More specifically, both under the EU and UN legislation, Greece cannot return, deport or expel these refugee families knowing that they will suffer from the Turkish government’s persecutions.

Likewise, Alfred De Zayas, Former UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order and Professor of International Law at Geneva School of Diplomacy, asserts that

“In the spirit of article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations adopted in 1951 the Convention Relative to the Status of Refugees. The Convention and its 1967 Protocol lay down the framework for the protection of persons who have a well-founded fear of persecution and hence have an international law right to apply for asylum.  Article 33 of the Refugee Convention elaborates upon the rule of non-refoulement, which prohibits states from deporting, expelling or extraditing asylum seekers to any state where they would be exposed to persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. The rule of non-refoulement has also been enacted in other core international human rights treaties such as Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and article 7 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which have been ratified by Greece. The Committee against Torture’s General Comment No. 1 further elucidates the rule and establishes pertinent criteria for its practical application.

Looking at the current situation in Greece, it must be emphasized that Greece is obliged to comply with its commitments under international human rights law and refugee law. Members of the Hizmet Movement fleeing from the Turkish government’s harsh persecutions fulfill the definition of a refugee under the 1951 Refugee Convention and have every right to demand protection from deportation to Turkey, where they face persecution. Recent push-backs of asylum seekers from the Hizmet Movement who have been denied the opportunity to have their asylum applications considered in Greece and who have been forcefully returned to Turkey by masked men is extraordinarily worrisome and contravenes international human rights law and refugee law. Hitherto Greece had welcomed the refugees from Turkey.  Greece must stop all push backs, comply with its obligations under international law, and also investigate all reports of push backs and determine responsibilities.  The Greek Government should avail itself of advisory services and technical assistance, which both the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the High Commissioner for Human Rights can provide.”

Moreover, Professor Anwar Alam, Senior Fellow at Middle Institute with Policy Perspectives Foundation in New Delhi, also states that.

“In this context, it must be brought to attention that fleeing Hizmet or non-Hizmet people from Turkey to Greece via Evros River or the Aegean Sea enjoy a legal right of protection after crossing into Greece border. EU Asylum Procedures Directive (Directive 2013/32/EU) states that the first country of asylum is a country where the person has already received international protection – a refugee-like protection, or another kind of “sufficient protection” which must at least include non-refoulement guarantees (Article 35 of the Directive).

Therefore, Greek authorities are urged to comply with this legal injunction and investigate the issue of masked men who are pushing back the refugees to Turkey.”

Conclusion

Migrant pushback is a growing concern, especially in the Greek-Turkish land border. Push-backs, as the word conveys the message, is stopping migrants in the borders and pushing them back by force to the country where they came from. The legal term is collective expulsion (17). According to Article 4 of Protocol 4 (Art 4-4) to the European Convention on Human Rights, push- back is defined in legal terms as “The well-established definition of collective expulsion is any measure of the competent authorities compelling aliens as a group to leave the country, except where such a measure is taken after and on the basis of a reasonable and objective examination of the particular cases of each individual alien of the group.”(18)

Migration is not easy for those who migrate as well as those countries who receive them. People will continue to leave their countries in search of a more secure and dignified future if they face life-threatening conditions, political imprisonment, and torture. Considering the political landscape in the Middle East and Turkey, we do not see credible evidence that the influx of migrants to Greece will stop in the near future. Therefore, Greek authorities should review their border security procedures and give serious consideration to maintaining the safety of asylum seekers to remain in compliance with international laws and regulations. The Greek authorities should investigate the pushback and violence allegations whether those allegations are against border security guards or non-governmental violent groups.

References

  1. Kotsiou, O. S., Kotsios, P., Srivastava, D. S., Kotsios, V., Gourgoulianis, K. I., & Exadaktylos, A. K. (2018). Impact of the Refugee Crisis on the Greek Healthcare System: A Long Road to Ithaca. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(8), 1790. doi:10.3390/ijerph15081790
  2. United States Department of State (2018). Turkey 2018 Human Rights Report. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/289435.pdf
  3. Konstantinou, A.& Georgopoulou, A.(2019). Asylum Information Database, Country Report: Greece. European Council on Refugees and Exiles.
  4. Reidy, E.(2018). An open secret: Refugee pushbacks across the Turkey- Greece border. https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/special-report/ 2018/10/08/refugee-pushbacks-across-turkey-greece-border-Evros.
  5. IpaNews (2019). Another group of Turkish asylum seekers who arrived in Greece pushed-back to Turkey. https://ipa.news/2019/04/29/another- group-of-turkish-asylum-seekers-who-arrived- in-greece-pushed- back-to-turkey/.
  6. Keep Talking Greece (2019). https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2019/ 04/30/turkish-asylum-seekers-evros/?utm_source=feedburner& utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed  253A+KeepTalkingGreece+ 2528Keep+Talking+Greece 2529
  7. NPR (2017). https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/12/27/ 571842458/turks-fleeing-to-greece-find-mostly-warm-welcome- despite-history
  8. EFSYN (2019). https://www.efsyn.gr/node/193572
  9. DWNews (2018). Inside Europe: Greece accused of migrant pushbacks https://www.dw.com/en/inside-europe-greece-accused-of-migrant- pushbacks/av-46044142
  10. CEO-CPT (2018). https://www.coe.int/en/web/cpt/-/greece- council-of-europe-anti-torture-committee-calls-for-the-situation-of-psychiatric-patients-to-be-improved-while- criticising-once-again-the-poor-t
  11. Guardian (2018). https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/18/ greek-police-accused-beating-migrants-trying-to-enter-from- turkey
  12. Ipa News (2019). https://ipa.news/2019/04/28/we-were-beaten-and- pushed-back-by-masked-men-at-turkish-greek-border-turkish- journalist-and-asylum-seeker/
  13. Bold (2019). https://medyabold.com/2019/04/29/iki-ayri-turkiyeli- multeci-grubu-yunanistandan-geri-itildi/
  14. Lifo (2019). https://m.lifo.gr/articles/greece_articles/ 236781/apokleistiki-sygklonistiki-martyria-apo-to-teleytaio- push-back-ston-evro?fbclid=IwAR2PuufQWcjmHNp2tCyzsvfeN-X4rxJYjezsseBQsRZbq9ITHuknTANG28g
  15. EuroNews (2019). https://www.euronews.com/2019/05/11/masked-men- beat-us-with-batons-greece-accused-of-violent-asylum-seeker-pushbacks
  16. UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July 1951, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, p. 137, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3be01b964.html [accessed 1 June 2019].
  17. Macgregor, M. (2018). InfoMigrants. https://www.infomigrants.net/en/ post/11579/greek-authorities-accused-of-illegal-pushbacks-and- violence-against-migrants
  18. Council of Europe (2019). Guide on Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights. https://www.echr.coe.int/ Documents/Library_Collection_P4postP11_ETS046E_ENG.pdf

 

 

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Report on the Current and Possible Threats Supporters of the Gulen Movement Face Abroad

“I CANNOT SAY WE ARE ABSOLUTELY SAFE EVEN ABROAD”

Report on the Current and Possible Threats Supporters of the Gulen Movement Face Abroad

Summary
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.

Introduction
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.[1] 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.[2][3] 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.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] 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.”[14] 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.”[15]

Despite all these efforts, Mr. Cabuk was not quite lucky. His asylum application to Georgia was rejected on July 2017.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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.”[19]

Mr. Sokmen was reportedly arrested and sent to Thailand, he was taken into an immigration detention center to be deported to Turkey there.[20] After being held in detention for a day, he was extradited to Turkey where he was taken into custody and arrested again.[21] 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.”[22] 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.”[23] 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.[24] 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.[25]

Human Rights Watch reflected on the situation and stated that men were held without any charge – which is allowed under the Law of Malaysia.[26] “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.[27] 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.[28] Both organizations have called the Malaysian government not to extradite three men to Turkey like they did in October 2016.[29]

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.”[30] 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.[31]

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.”[32]

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.[33]

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.”[34] 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.”[35] Some people said they cannot even go to mosques not to come across government supporters.[36] 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.[37] 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.[38]  Similarly, members of the Movement have been exposed to verbal attacks in the United States too by pro-government people.[39]

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)[40] 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.[41] 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.[42]

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.”[43] 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.[44] 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.[45] 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.[46] Furthermore, at least 699 people were imprisoned last week because of their alleged links with the Movement.[47]

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.”[48] 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.[49] 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.[50] 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,[51] 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.[52] 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.[53]

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”.[54]

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.[55] 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.[56]

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.”[57] 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,[58] 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.[59]

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.[60]

5.     Conclusion
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.

6.     Recommendations
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.

 

[1] “Sudan’da Türk işadamına gözaltı.” Aktif Haber, 8 Sept. 2017, aktifhaber.com/gundem/sudanda-turk-isadamina-gozalti-h103678.html.

[2] “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/.

[3] 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.

[4] Sudan has been party to the Convention since 1974.

[5] “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.

[6] Kazakhstan has been party to the Convention since 1999.

[7] 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;

[8] 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.

[9] Hashim, Asad. “Missing Turkish teacher ‘deported from Pakistan’.” Pakistan News | Al Jazeera, 16 Oct. 2017, aje.io/wgf3m.

[10] Khan & Constable, Ibid.

[11] 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].

[12] 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.

[13] “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/.

[14] “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/.

[15] “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/.

[16] “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/.

[17] 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/.

[18] 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/.

[19] Ibid.

[20] 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.

[21] “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.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Lefevre, et al, Ibid.

[24] 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.

[25] 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.

[26] “Malaysia: Longtime Turkish Residents Detained.” Human Rights Watch, 5 May 2017, www.hrw.org/news/2017/05/05/malaysia-longtime-turkish-residents-detained.

[27] Ibid.

[28] 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.

[29] “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.

[30] “Malaysia: Extradition puts three Turkish men at risk of torture.” Amnesty International, 12 May

2017, www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/05/malaysia-extradition-puts-three-turkish-men-at-risk-of-torture/.

[31] 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.

[32] 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/.

[33] Ibid.

[34] 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/.

[35] Ibid.

[36] 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.

[37] Ibid.

[38] “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/.

[39] 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.

[40] The DITIB is an umbrella organization active in Europe working for the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey.

[41] Winter, Chase. “Turkish Islamic organization DITIB admits preachers spied in Germany” Deutsche Welle, 12 Jan. 2017, p.dw.com/p/2Vgzu?tw.

[42] Winter, Chase. “Turkish imam spy affair in Germany extends across Europe.” Deutsche Welle, 16 Feb. 2017, p.dw.com/p/2Xj3A?tw.

[43] Weiser, Benjamin. “Reza Zarrab, Turk at Center of Iran Sanctions Case, Is Helping Prosecution.” The New York Times, 28 Nov. 2017, nyti.ms/2icWFRu.

[44] 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.

[45] 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.

[46] 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/.

[47] Simsek, Yurdagul. “İçişleri Bakanlığı: Bir haftada 1323 operasyon düzenlendi, 4 bin 62 kişi gözaltına alındı.” Sputnik Türkiye, 11 Dec. 2017, sptnkne.ws/gkyG.

[48] Unal, Aydin. “’Smart’ Fetullahists.” Yeni Şafak, 4 Dec. 2017, www.yenisafak.com/en/columns/aydinunal/smart-fetullahists-2040235.

[49] “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.

[50] “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.

[51] 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.

[52] 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.

[53] 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.

[54] “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.

[55] 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.

[56] “Vertrauter Erdoğans zündelt in Deutschland.” ZDF – zur Startseite, 12 Dec. 2017, www.zdf.de/politik/frontal-21/osmanen-germania-104.html.

[57] 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.

[58] Washington Diplomacy Group is an independent government affairs firm active in Washington DC.

[59] Eksili, Bilal. Interviewed by the AST on December 2017.

[60] Interviewed by the AST on December 2017.

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