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ERDOGAN’S LONG ARMS: ABDUCTIONS IN TURKEY AND ABROAD

 

The Origins of the Problem

Turkey’s struggle to draw the country more in line with the pillars of the European Union faced a long and accelerating slide. The country’s Freedom in the World score has been in free fall since 2014 due to an escalating series of assaults on the press, social media users, protesters, political parties, the judiciary, and the electoral system, as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fought to impose personalized control over the state and society in a deteriorating domestic and regional security environment.

Turkey’s drift into the grip of authoritarianism began before the failed 2016 coup. The government’s heavy-handed response to nationwide Gezi Park protests in 2013, the start of a purge against members Gülen community after the corruption investigation in December 2013 paved the way for the emergence of an illiberal government. Many observers and experts pinpoint this year, 2013, as the major turning point for Turkey’s drift away from liberal democracy. The steady descent into an autocratic system leads to the full breakdown of the rule of law, judicial independence, and corrosion of the integrity of Turkey’s bureaucratic institutions following the sweeping purge after the failed coup attempt in 2016.

The signs of the conflict first came to surface after Erdoğan made clear his intentions to establish a more authoritarian rule with the powers vested by the 2011 referendum. The battle lines were drawn after the infamous graft operations of 17 and 25 December, in 2013, where prosecutors rounded up some politicians and businessmen who were under surveillance in a longitudinal investigation. Erdoğan said the corruption files were nothing but a sham, perpetrated by the Gülen movement as a soft coup in line with the interests of the foreign powers, which were envious of the Turkish rise as a global power.

Hizmet had long been hailed as the soft power for the country with its huge focus on education and humanitarian aid activities as well as interfaith dialogue efforts. “Gülen schools portrayed Turkey as a mystical but adaptable and open-minded country, and became a place for building intimate connections with elites and their children in dozens of countries.” Erdoğan used the movement’s international prevalence as a proof for his claim that it became the tool for the foreign powers.

When President Goes to War

Erdoğan has vowed on many occasions to uproot the Gülen Movement wherever it is. He did everything in his capacity, banking on the state power, and striking new partnerships with his old enemies against the Hizmet, which Erdoğan started calling the Parallel Structure. Erdoğan declared a “witch-hunt” against the movement, purging Gülen’s followers from public services, crippling its media power, erecting red-tape obstacles, cowing its institutions and companies with interminable inspections, etc. Finally, on July 15, 2016, a coup attempt, which Erdoğan declared Hizmet as the main perpetrator and used this argument to justify his undemocratic measures.

Erdoğan said: “Neither in the East nor in the West is a single member of this organization comfortable as before, nor will they be. If not today, then tomorrow, one day every member of the FETO traitors’ front will pay for his treason against the country and the nation.2 ” FETÖ, the abbreviation for the Fetullahist Terror Organization, was chosen by him to demonize the movement.

A Cultural Genocide

Erdoğan was not simply flapping his jaws. He has already been doing everything to make life unbearable for the Gülen followers inside the country. The coup attempt, which the Hizmet never claimed involvement in and renounced from the first moment, gave him an unquestionable and unchallenged excuse to completely disregard the current laws, as well as some international laws like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, under a state of emergency. What ensued was a witch hunt at an unprecedented frantic intensity.

According to the research conducted by the AST as of February 2020, investigations have been carried out on more than 610,000 people. The number of people arrested as a result of these investigations has already gone above 160,000 and counting. Currently, about 63,000 political prisoners are behind bars in the Turkish prisons. A total of 780 children are inside these overcrowded prisons, where their mothers endure agonizing troubles to raise them. 6,021 academics were expelled from their universities; whereas 15 private universities, which had affiliations with the Hizmet were shut down. 3,003 schools and dormitories were closed, millions of books were burned. Roughly 200 media outlets were seized and were either converted to pro-government mouthpieces or muzzled completely. 161 journalists were imprisoned. 4,463 judges or prosecutors were dismissed from public service and some were incarcerated. Tens of thousands of polices officers were axed. The licenses of 1,539 attorneys are currently under trial and 580 of them are in jail. 11 people died under arrest or during interrogation. 93 prisoners were killed due to torture and ill-treatment.

Globalizing the Theatre of War

Erdoğan also attempted to convince countries through carrot and stick policies or more diplomatic means to join his personal fight and do the same to the Hizmet members within their borders without heeding too much about what the rule of law by its very own nature requires. Various governments didn’t hesitate to jump on the bandwagon and yielded to the diplomatic pressure from Erdoğan to arrest and deport members of the Gülen Movement active in their countries. Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Georgia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Turkmenistan are some of these countries. In some countries, like Myanmar, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, and Sudan, the countries didn’t even follow their own laws while carrying out the deportations. In some countries, the local intelligence agencies cooperated to seize Gülen followers, while in some others, Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) didn’t even need to ask for permission to stage an operation.

In Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Malaysia, and Pakistan, the domestic authorities blatantly violated international laws by deliberately deporting or letting Turkish intel agents kidnap Erdoğan’s opponents, who had applied for asylum or had UN protection against persecution.

Vicious Methods Inside the Country and Abroad

Although ascertaining the exact number is not easy, an estimated total of 130 people (refer to AST’s research) were abducted inside and outside Turkey through nefarious methods, brushing away even the most basic rights to fair trial and defense. Some of these people whisked away abroad by clandestine operations, were under the protection of the United Nations. They were subjected to heavy tortures, made to sign fake testimonies, turned into the living dead, and even murdered. Ankara was even accused of exploiting the Interpol system by submitting extradition requests for over 40,0003 individuals with arbitrary terror charges, revoking passports of the dissidents who struggle to survive as expats, issuing arrest warrants on fake accusations, etc. MİT organized covert operations to abduct and bring to Turkey mostly people with alleged ties with the Gülen movement, sometimes in collaboration with the relevant authorities of the country and in some other cases without even bothering to inform them.

Inside the country, certain figures were abducted in broad daylight. 29 people (refer to AST’s research) were registered as victims of enforced disappearance. A majority of these people were released, while some are feared to have been killed since no news has been heard from them for years now. Some of the survivors found the courage to tell the gory details of the torture they had been subjected to. Almost all of the people who were turned over to the police and were arrested show signs of heavy physical and psychological damage.

The Scope of the Report

The report consists of three parts. The introductory part will first offer a consolidated approach towards the nature of the war Turkish State has initiated against the Gülen movement, with an emphasis on Erdoğan’s passion for vengeance which has exacerbated the conditions for the Gülen followers. A thorough discussion over the abductions and enforced disappearances within the framework of international law will also be presented in the first part.

The second part will shed light on how the Erdoğan administration extended its operations against the Gülen movement followers all around the world by stipulating and examining all known cases around the world. The third part will deal with the enforced abductions in Turkey, also called the Black Transporter cases.

Part 1- Introduction

It is no secret that Turkey’s authoritarian political Islamist regime, headed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ruler Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has long been suppressing opposition in the country. Hand in glove with the shady elements of the country’s former powerhouses, its fight against any kind of political dissent has been carried out through harsh measures that have often invoked the dark memories of the witch hunts of the Middle Ages.

As revealed in a myriad of incidents, the actions engaged by the Turkish state to squelch and muzzle the critics include a list of the most baleful forms of crimes against humanity. Hate crimes such as defamation and libel gush out in torrents every day from a colossal propaganda machine against any segment of the society that dares to position itself opposite the government. Once shunned as a despicable act even for the nation’s intelligence agency, profiling has become a daily routine of not only state institutions, but also some non-governmental organizations. The profiling files are published in national media outlets as if it is a most ordinary thing. Open or covert threats, physical attacks, and torture in the name of the state and for the “holy” purpose of saving the dignity of Erdoğan’s position are no longer counted as crimes. Nor is this all: those who use force towards this aim are revered and rewarded.

Among all these sinister crimes, this report will attempt to throw light upon one of the most contemptible, one that the state has been relentlessly committing recently under orders of Erdoğan: forced disappearances, abductions, and quid pro quo renditions of the dissidents in Turkey and abroad. It will also attempt to show how the autocratic regime has been employing state institutions as well as what appear to be non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as visible actors in the process of its persecutions.

Besides the fact that the magnitude of such efforts to silence, persecute the dissenting voices has not abated within the borders; the Turkish state has also escalated its cross-border operations against the dissenters. These unbridled and often reckless actions have caused in many cases problems in relationships with other governments since such engagements are a clear violation of international treaties. Such actions are considered a direct interference in other countries’ domestic affairs, as well as an unconcealed denial of their national sovereignty.

It goes without saying that these clandestine operations also pose a crime against humanity, and, as evident in the UN practices in similar cases, may become subject to international tribunal proceedings. Unfortunately, in this sense, Turkey has descended to become a part of the club of countries which hardly respect the foreign jurisdictions while conspiring against persons or communities they deem the enemy. North Korea stands out as a notorious example, as it uses enforced disappearances, abductions, renditions, and assassinations of political opponents as an ordinary practice to eradicate the figures it finds “inconvenient” for its stability. How unfortunate it is to see the public indifference in Turkey as Erdoğan steers the country, which had once been a regional model for its seemingly successful combination of Islam and democracy, towards the path of the most oppressive regimes of the world, with such despicable and inhumane actions of enforced disappearances, torture and murder.

An enforced or involuntary disappearance is a direct assault on human rights, which cannot be legitimized on any grounds in terms of international law. Neither can it be conceivably acceptable in terms of humanity and conscience. The Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance provides a satisfactory definition for this crime. Proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 47/133 of 18 December 1992 as a body of principles for all States, the declaration defines an enforced disappearance as incidents in which “persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government, or by organized groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law”.4 How can one justify such a vicious act?

What is even worse is that the Turkish authorities have only rarely repudiated extreme and illegal measures to silence the opposition. On the contrary, the top government officials have boasted of them to win the favor of the masses for domestic political gains. Even bureaucrats from security and intelligence units have embraced such practices. The Turkish media, which has almost completely become a subservient tool of the government and a loyal amplifier to propagate Erdoğan’s messages to the masses, is brimming with success stories of how people are beaten and snatched in front of their children and wife or with “delightful” details of how these “bad guys” were whisked away from a foreign country — with or without the cooperation of the officials of that country — as if they were not talking about the devastation of real lives, but rather narrating fictional spy thrillers.

This report aims to put a particular focus on these devastated lives: to examine abductions and enforced disappearances by the Turkish state inside and outside its borders. It tries to include as many cases as possible by resorting to open resources, as well as by trying to get access to the personal accounts of those who survived.

Background

The Erdoğan’s regime has traditionally made the capital of such shady methods to attack its enemies and the groups it sees detrimental to its core establishment. The Kurdish opposition, for instance, has long been a usual target for surreptitious assaults and assassinations. Likewise, leftist groups, communists, and Alevites have also been subjected to similar underhanded actions. During its fight to exterminate the Kurdish separatist insurgency, thousands of victims were vanished, especially in eastern and southeastern Anatolia. Even today, two decades after their disappearance, the mothers of abducted and most likely killed children meet every Saturday in İstanbul to ask for at least a graveyard for their children. In recent years, however, the main victims of the extrajudicial practices have been the members of the Gülen movement or Hizmet.

Gülen movement’s supporters mostly agreed with AKP’s policies that strengthened the country’s democratic institutions while forcing the anti-democratic elements of the established state to retreat. However, as Erdoğan became increasingly more enthusiastic to fill the void left behind by the defeated ancient régime with his own dictatorial desires, the relations between the two groups deteriorated. Erdoğan accused Hizmet of perpetrating a plot to topple his government in December 2013 with two graft operations that implicated some businessmen close to him as well as a few members of his government and started a massive campaign against the movement.

Here, a paragraph must be inserted to briefly recall the dramatic overturn of the relations between the AKP and Hizmet, which also marks the time when the country started severing its already flimsy connections with the rule of law. When Erdoğan’s network of shady relations was laid bare by the corruption operations, the politician promptly declared that his government was under attack by the global powerhouses which didn’t want Turkey’s rise again as a regional actor and that these secret organizations assigned Hizmet to finish off his party, the only hope for the revival of the old magnificence of the country. His declaration paved the way to justify his undemocratic measures and dark propaganda against members of the movement. In just a couple of days, he changed his rhetoric utterly from praising how aloof a movement of sincerity and devotion the Hizmet is, to how fiendish a demon it actually is and that it is responsible for all evil in the country. Erdoğan said Hizmet volunteered to become a puppet of the nation’s foreign enemies and so it is also the enemy of the people and for this very reason, a total annihilation would be good for everyone. This reasoning, inspired suddenly by the corruption cases, interestingly convinced Turks, possibly owing to the extremely loyal media power Erdoğan has and to the general inclination of ordinary Turkish people towards accepting conspiracy theories. The further away the conspiracy theories are from reality, the more credible they become, especially when they are repeated by such a powerful figure as Erdoğan. The politician lost no time in hitting the roads and started public rallies all around Turkey, sometimes in three different cities in a single day, to tell the same lies to the masses, while every single message from his mouth was multiplied by the media to reach millions over and over again. At the same time, the prosecutors and law enforcement officers who had participated in the corruption operations were either demoted or assigned to insignificant units, contrary to current laws. Erdoğan’s next step would be to seek cooperation against the common enemy with the former actors of the deep state, who had been forced to retreat after their coup plans were exposed.

A systematic and sweeping purge of the critical figures in the state bureaucracy ensued; the victims were largely the people affiliated with the movement. Following the failed coup of July 15 in 2016, which Erdoğan blamed on Hizmet and its leader, the purge became even more widespread, and the methods turned more vicious.

Hizmet had been labeled as a terror organization by Erdoğan’s cabinet as per the recommendations of the National Security Council (MGK), a still powerful unit of the former regime, but a considerable portion of the domestic public opinion was still in favor of Hizmet, as the movement had always praised peace over violence, dialogue over conflict and education over everything else. Gülen had frequently maligned anyone resorting to terror in the name of Allah as non-believers and the most dangerous enemies of Islam; therefore, many were still shrugging off Erdoğan’s defamation campaigns and his continuous attributions of terror to Gülen and his followers. But after the July 15th botched coup attempt, with the help of a torrential flood of a one-sided narration of the coup details, it didn’t take long until public opinion completely turned against Hizmet and its leader, even though they were disavowing the coup repeatedly from the first moment on. With the help of an enormous public outrage against anything and anyone related to the Gülen movement, Erdoğan found the strength and excuse to disregard any obligation to stick to laws, fairness, and mercy. When he shouted in public rallies that all Hizmet followers must be exterminated, he got applause. When he ordered the plunder of the properties of Hizmet members, he got cheers. When he asked people to snitch on their relatives and friends from Hizmet, he got standing ovations.

Profiling and persecution of members of the Gülen movement was now not only a leisure pursuit of ordinary people, but also a task assigned to the state’s institutions, government agencies, AKP bureaus, and elected and appointed local administrators from governors to chiefs of villages.

Embassies were also commissioned with coordinating the profiling and spying activities on the expat members of the Hizmet movement. These missions included a variety of operations from mere intelligence gathering and stalking to threatening, harassing, and even physically assaulting the critics of Erdogan. It is quite likely that embassies have also been actively involved in the preparation and logistics phases of abductions and renditions. The mastermind and executer of the operations was Turkey’s main spy body, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). The Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB), as well as the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA), were also active participants in the covert intel operations around the world.

Ironically, the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) also joined the lynch party as a voluntary contributor to the assignment by the MİT to identify people critical of Erdoğan within expat communities, in clear contradiction to the obligatory assignment by the religion to help these people become brothers and friends.

Turkish preachers from the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) have been actively employed in these intelligence-gathering activities at the government’s request. Even though these were initially said to be “false media claims,” Secretary-General Bekir Alboğa later confessed that “a few” imams provided information to the Presidency of Religious Affairs.

Furthermore, as per later news, German police 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 the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Belgium.

State-run news companies, Anatolia News Agency (AA) and Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), spared no effort to follow the dissenting figures and make sensational stories about them in the countries where they operated. The Yunus Emre Institute and the Maarif (Education) Foundation, which acted hand in glove with the Turkish government to forcibly seize the educational institutions built and operated by the Hizmet movement in various countries, were also active participants in the clandestine warfare against the Gülen movement across the world.

Last but not least, government-funded private think tanks and organizations like the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), and the Turkish Heritage Organization, must be counted among the essential actors. They organized panels, conferences, and events, as well as issued a variety of publications, to disseminate ideas designed to bleach the government’s extrajudicial, arbitrary, and inhumane actions as inevitable measures taken at extraordinary times. They have also vied to garner support for Erdoğan and his party among Turkish communities while at the same time collecting information about the owners of the voices against Erdoğan within these communities.

Based on such underhanded investigations and espionage, the Erdoğan’s regime would first ask the rendition of its critics from the countries they were lawfully residing in. Depending on the nature of its relations with them, Turkey first asks through legitimate channels for the deportation of the people it is seeking. If this step proves unsuccessful, Turkey then attempts to offer bribes or use its influence to pressure these countries to hand over the wanted persons. The different milestones of this path are formulated in a report by the EU’s Open Dialogue Foundation: “When non-democratic states do not succeed in attaining extradition by legitimate methods, extra procedural forced expulsions (case of the employees of the Turco-Moldovian lyceum Orizont) or abductions (case of Vladimir Yegorov, Aleksandr Frantskevich, Murdali Khalimov) of the wanted persons often take place. Such actions are implemented on the basis of cooperation between the law-enforcement agencies and special services of both states, in secret, without observing lawful procedures, thus depriving persons of the opportunity to defend their interests in court (cases of Abdullah Büyük, Aminat Babayeva, Yusuf İnan, Salih Zeki Yiğit, Alma Shalabayeva, Muratbek Tungishbayev, Zhaksylyk Zharimbetov).

Enforced Disappearances in International Law

Enforced disappearances have universally been categorized as some of the most heinous crimes that can possibly be committed by malicious state actors. All relevant instruments of international law expressly forbid enforced disappearances, given that the act entirely circumvents avenues of due process while inflicting undue trauma upon both the abducted and the relatives of the abducted.

In a straightforward definition of “forced disappearance”, the Convention on the Forced Disappearance of Persons states, “forced disappearance of persons is… a grave and abominable offense against the inherent dignity of the human being.” The Convention also adds, “forced disappearance of persons violates numerous non-derogable and essential human rights” and reaffirms that the systematic practice of disappearance “constitutes a crime against humanity.” The International Criminal Court expands upon this definition of enforced disappearance, detailing it as the “arrest, detention or abduction of persons by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons, with the intention of removing them from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time.”
Finally, one of the most recent instruments of international law, the 2006 Convention on Enforced Disappearance, Article 1, provides an indubitably worded right to all persons:

“No one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance.”

A signatory to the United Nations’ Conventions, the Republic of Turkey has violated international laws and the human rights of its victims in all countries detailed in this report. Furthermore, the Turkish administration has utilized baseless national security arguments to justify its egregious behavior across the world. The Turkish government’s unabashed attempts to terrorize Turkish nationals across the world has violated the sovereignty of states in 16 known cases detailed here. International law prohibits the use of enforced disappearance under all circumstances as follows:

“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.”

The Republic of Turkey, the current Turkish government is overseen by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and all relevant actors involved in the process of terrorizing, abducting, and transporting people around the world to further their objectives continually violate widely recognized international laws, national sovereignty of countries subject to such operations, and local rules and regulations of relevant countries. In sum, the Erdogan Regime and its constituent parts, especially members of the intelligence community taking part in worldwide operations have committed crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations.

Turkey’s extraterritorial incursions to kidnap dissidents and its similarly egregious actions in its own jurisdiction have been substantiated with many cases, and this report will attempt to shed light on as many cases as possible. Nonetheless, one needs to first examine the grounds the Turkish authorities base their actions on.

On April 17, 2014, the Turkish Parliament empowered the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) with the legal authority to conduct undercover missions outside Turkey’s borders with a critical change in Law number 2937. Another important change was introduced in 2017 with the decree-law number 694 that rendered the MİT subordinate directly to the presidency and the President was assigned as the chair of the National Intelligence Coordination Council (MİKK), which would become the main strategy-making body for MİT’s moves outside Turkey.11 MİT now became able to realize to-the-point operations without facing any impediments that could have arisen if parliament had not been bypassed by attaching the agency directly to the almighty presidential post.

As we will discuss in the proceeding parts, although the domestic reactions to the MİT’s covert operations inside and outside the country have been limited, they garnered huge repulsion from certain states and international organizations, as its actions were perceived as a form of deprivation of liberty.

An individual’s right to liberty can be compromised so long as it is in compliance with international law. Article 9 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights clearly defines the arbitrary deprivation of liberty as a lack of respect to grounds and procedures prescribed by law. Both articles provide in indisputable terms the conditions that any individual must be well informed, promptly or at the time of arrest, of the reasons for their arrest and of any charges against them in case of arresting. Furthermore, any individual must be brought before a judge or a similar judicial authority without delay.

However, in Turkey’s practice, people are abducted without even knowing what their crimes are or who exactly has captured them. They appear in court only after months of heavy tortures, if they are lucky to live long enough. Indeed, they can’t see even the faces of their abductors or torturers, much less their lawyers or families.

Turkey’s abduction operations abroad have in some cases been in cooperation with the hosting countries, while in others, the Turkish operational units simply utilized underhanded methods, drawing strong reactions from those countries. For example, the Mongolian Deputy Foreign Minister Battsetseg Batmunkh denounced the abduction attempt of the Turkish teacher Veysel Akçay on the grounds that “it is an unacceptable act of violation of Mongolia’s sovereignty and independence and Mongolia will strongly object it.” The Turkish Ambassador in Ulaanbaatar would, without a moment to spare, reject any kind of knowledge or involvement in the operation.

Another harsh backlash came from Kosovo after Turkey kidnapped five teachers and a medical doctor who had affiliations with the Gülen movement. Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj fired his interior minister and spy chief for their alleged complicity. Kosovo’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a stern statement in which it said, “the arrest and deportation of the Turkish citizens with a regular residence permit … is … in direct contradiction to international norms.”13 Erdoğan lambasted Kosovo’s PM, who had said the followers of the Gülen movement “were not deported but were stolen,” as if he was talking to one of his underlings or to any Turk who dared to question him, saying Haradinaj would “pay” for what he did. Enver Robelli, a prominent Kosovar journalist, told Al-Monitor about Erdoğan’s unbridled disparagement of the Kosovar PM: “People are irritated that Erdogan attacks the prime minister. Most [local] media [report that] Erdogan behaves as if he were the king of Kosovo.”

Nate Schenkkan from the Washington Post wrote, “The idea that Turkish intelligence would brazenly abduct its citizens from a country with which it has putatively good relations is a shocking offense against both international human rights standards and bilateral norms.”14 Schenkkan elaborated on Turkey’s flagrant “transnational repression.”15 He asserted that Turkey has pursued an aggressive policy to silence its perceived enemies in at least 46 countries.

Additionally, he recounted the allegations that it was abusing the Interpol as a political tool to target its opponents. “Ankara has revoked thousands of passports and achieved the arrest, deportation, or rendition of hundreds of Turkish citizens from at least 16 countries, including many who were under UN protection as asylum seekers. It has successfully pressured at least 20 countries to close or transfer to new owners dozens, perhaps hundreds, of Gülen movement schools,” he wrote.

The regime’s blatant moves against the followers of the Gülen movement have also been registered in detail by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its annual country reports since 2017. The report wrote under the Torture and Ill-Treatment in Custody section in 2017: “Cases of torture and ill-treatment in police custody were widely reported through 2017, especially by individuals detained under the anti-terror law, marking a reverse in long-standing progress, despite the government’s stated zero tolerance for torture policy. There were widespread reports of police beating detainees, subjecting them to prolonged stress positions and threats of rape, threats to lawyers, and interference with medical examinations.”17 The report mentioned the abductions by “unidentified perpetrators believed to be state agents” in at least six cases. The report for 2018 marked the continuation of allegations of torture, ill-treatment, and cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment in police custody and prison and the lack of any meaningful investigation into them as a source of deep concern. Furthermore, it would also lambaste the lack of any effective investigations into these serious assertions by the judiciary.

The same report for the next year recorded only exacerbation in these sources of concern without any sign of progress.19 Different from the previous reports, it would point to a pervasive culture of impunity for members of the security forces and public officials implicated. The report would also criticize in harsh terms Turkey’s barring of the publication of reports on the findings of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) in their two visits to detention places in Turkey. “Turkish authorities continued to seek the extradition of alleged Gülen supporters, many of them teachers, from countries around the world. Countries that complied with Turkey’s requests bypassed legal procedures and judicial review. Those illegally extradited in this way were detained and prosecuted on return to Turkey,” the report asserted.

Confessing Abductions

Despite undeniable evidence that the enforced disappearances were carried out openly or covertly by several state institutions, mainly by the intelligence and the security units, different government representatives and bodies have vehemently rejected accusations in their official statements. Despite that, their deliberate or on-impulse confessions are available even in the sources that are publicly accessible. Although it is universally accepted as a heinous transgression of the basic human rights and is widely shunned, Turkish authorities have interestingly defended abductions of dissidents in Turkey or abroad, not in blurted-out blunders but in deliberately stated confirmations. In the following paragraphs, some examples of such remarks will be highlighted.

Before proceeding with its abductions, Turkey first tried to capture the dissidents through formal mechanisms and within internationally approved norms, such as requesting the extradition of Gülen movement members. But as its demands were turned down in some countries, especially in the democratic world where the supremacy of law is respected, the Turkish government started to use extrajudicial ways like abductions to bring these people back.

Thinly-Veiled Threats by the Politicians

Turkish president Erdoğan has encouraged his loyalists time and again to make life unbearable for Hizmet followers and ordered law enforcement units and intelligence officers to kidnap his critics and punish them, even hinting vaguely of their murders. For instance, in one of his speeches, he said: “Some countries eliminate terrorists whom they consider as a threat to their national security, wherever they are. This means they accept that Turkey has the same right.” He then hinted about his target: “This includes the terrorists they shake hands with and praise. I hope we will have good news for the nation on this matter soon.”

In one of his early statements in September 2016, he would say that “no country or region around the world will ever be a safe haven for FETÖ and its militants.” The Turkish autocrat described the members of the Gülen movement as cancer cells that must be exterminated, leaving no remnants. “Those who fled abroad before or in the murky atmosphere of the coup d’état should never feel safe. … The children of this country should return and tell whatever they know to the relevant authorities. If they don’t, they’ll pay for it. At any rate, we won’t support them as our citizens. … We will take due action wherever they are captured,” he said.

Similar comments would spill from Erdoğan’s mouth during a joint press conference with Kosovar President Hashim Thaçi in Ankara on December 29, 201624: “Our crackdown on them both at home and abroad is underway and will continue to be the case in the future. Wherever they flee, we will be hot on the heels of the leaders and militants of terrorist organizations.”

Former Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ nonchalantly admitted that Ankara’s spy agency “bundled up and brought back” 80 suspects against their will, as part of their global response to so-called threats to Turkey’s security from the Hizmet movement. He also called the capture of Turkish dissident s from Kosovo, which had caused a serious commotion in that country, as “a great success.”

Commenting on the Kosovo abductions on the state-run TRT radio, Erdoğan’s lawyer Hüseyin Aydın also said similar abductions by the Turkish intelligence would continue. The Kosovo operation was not marking any “paradigm shift” for the MİT, and it wasn’t the first of its kind, said Aydın. “Fugitive Gülenists will walk looking behind their backs all the time. The National Intelligence Organization will continue its operations everywhere. After the government’s success at home, there was a need to carry out operations targeting the movement’s overseas network,” he threatened.

Following suit, the other members of the Turkish government, as well as loyal followers of the president, have expressed similar thoughts. There have been repeated calls for kidnapping, killing and torturing of Gülen followers from these circles; nevertheless, even though these are heinous hate crimes, prosecutors simply turn a deaf ear to any such threats if they are leveled against Hizmet members. This is a public craze, an unfathomable intemperance that is hardly tolerated even under actual war conditions. Even warring sides try to avoid atrocities against civilians, especially children, the elderly and women. However, different units of the state and the civilians, chiefly Erdoğan himself and his zealot loyalists, have repeatedly called for abduction and torture, even murder, of any Hizmet member in Turkey or abroad — even if they are elderly or women — and the plunder of their properties.

Erdoğan’s son-in-law even publicly encouraged the AKP zealots to kill Gülen movement followers, saying he would butcher them wherever he sees them without even batting an eyelid.27 While talking to a group of students that were granted scholarships to study abroad, Berat Albayrak said, “This gang of traitors is now pouring their poison and treason in cooperation with a disgusting ‘diaspora network’ all around the world to smear and betray this nation and this religion abroad. … If I were you, I would not have been able to restrain myself, I would have butchered them wherever I saw them. … These fugitives, stateless traitors, live very normal lives,” he added.

Erdoğan’s spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, as he was answering questions from the press on September 21, 2018, said, “Now, look, it may be the US or some other places, other countries in which the FETÖ nested, or some other regions, the operations by our relevant units and institutions in these places will continue uninterrupted. Therefore, they will continue feeling the breath of the state of the Turkish Republic on their necks. No one must ever doubt about this. Of course, I am not able to give you any details as to which countries, here or there, but anything may happen at any place. Let me express that our president has a clear order on this matter and that our units have been conducting professional efforts at the fullest possible extent. There may be operations in other regions, too, similar to the one in Kosovo. The Turkish Republic will not allow FETÖ to inhale a peaceful breath, everyone must know this.”28 The Kosovo operation he was referring to had stirred a huge backlash in the Balkan country as its Prime Minister stepped up to sack the internal minister and the head of the security forces for their negligence, which tainted the country’s sovereignty and made Kosovo seem like an unchecked and unprotected field where the agents of other countries could freely do whatever they want.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on April 4, 2017, “We do not stop chasing after them [Gülen movement participants] at home and abroad. We are breathing down their necks. We won’t give these traitors and dishonorable people room to breathe.”29 He would repeat the same threats over and over again by using the exact same words in a venomous tone as he spoke in Antalya in February 2019: “We are breathing down their necks. We will grab their necks and bring them back to Turkey. We will make the whole world a dungeon for them. We are hot on their heels all across the world. We are closing their associations, schools. We are closing down them all, or we are making them closed down. Lastly, Pakistan Constitutional Court declared them a terror organization.”

In some other incidents, the Turkish authorities revealed their plans to resort to underhanded operations against the members of the Gülen movement. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, for example, asserted on March 2017 that the Turkish state units have plans to whisk away the opposition figures, who had escaped the AKP persecution and sought refuge in Germany as political asylees. “One day, these FETÖ terrorists may be shocked to see where they are located, you know. I’m telling you from here, it is not that easy.”31 In one of the most famous such incidents that also kicked up a row in the US, the US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Mike Flynn allegedly discussed with representatives from the Turkish government a $15-million offer in exchange for delivering Fethullah Gülen to Turkey.32 This single case alone depicts the exorbitant plots the Turkish government has schemed and ventured even in the US, much less the countries with less established democratic institutions. Within its own borders and abroad, the Turkish government will continue to round up and bring in the dissidents to fill its currently-under-construction 228 new prisons.

Threats From Loyalists

Pro-government figures not only from politics but also from the media, also encouraged abduction, torture, and killing of government dissidents in Turkey and abroad. Erdoğan’s former speechwriter Aydın Ünal, for instance, penned threats bluntly against the Hizmet members in his column in a pro-government media outlet. The following quote is taken verbatim from his column in Erdoğan’s Yeni Şafak newspaper: “Certain Fetullahists continuing to live does not serve the interests of neither Gülen nor U.S. intelligence. They should prepare for the extrajudicial organization executions approaching, rather than conduct an operation through the judicial theater.”34 When he wrote these lines, he was also an MP of Erdoğan’s party. He claimed that the Hizmet would do something like this to journalists in exile since their lives would no longer “serve the interests of the movement.” These lines, however, were nothing but providing an early excuse for the MİT’s covert operations to assassinate these dissidents.

Another pro-government journalist, Cem Küçük, made an even direr statement. During a live television program, he insisted Turkish intelligence agencies kill family members of people who were arrested over their (alleged) affiliations with the Gülen movement. He was very critical even about the prosecutors, who had notoriously been very tough on the followers of the Gülen movement, accusing these prosecutors of being excessively lenient. He suggested that instead of asking questions and taking answers in conventional ways, the detained people must be subjected to a variety of tortures during their enforced stays in prisons. One of his suggestions to effectively convince Hizmet members to confess their attributed crimes was to “to hang them out of the window by their legs.”

Unfortunately, the Turkish state is already executing much worse cruelty against the alleged members of the movement. There are innumerable grueling accounts of how Hizmet members are treated in prisons.

The threats that come from Erdoğan’s zealot followers must also be noted. There have been countless physical assaults against members of the Hizmet movement inside Turkey, but there are concrete signs that the acts of intimidation and cannonade are being deliberately organized in other countries as well. For example, some German press outlets reported that AKP MP Metin Külünk was ostensibly providing funds for the Turkish “Ottoman Germania” gangs. There are surveillance camera records showing this politician in contact with the gang members while allegedly giving them money. A ZDF news reported evidence that Ottoman Germania was indeed assigned to carry out attacks on the Turkish dissidents living in the country. A 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.” Likewise, Dursun Baş, the chairman of the German branch of the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), addressed two members of Stiftung Dialog und Bildung via Twitter, saying, “How do you dare to go out on the streets? For you, there will be no easy death.”

Sedat Peker, a mafia leader who was released from prison by Erdoğan in 2014, openly threatened dissidents with death but was acquitted by the court without even a slight warning, much less due to punishment. Peker, who was embraced by Erdoğan on many occasions and has very close relations with the youth of Erdoğan’s party, said, “We will force into the jails after hanging all of whomever we catch on the trees, flag poles. We will hang them in the jails as well. We will hang them on the poles from their necks,” and the court accepted these words as nothing more than normal expression of one’s opinions. People quit attending mosques for regular prayers due to the fear of getting assaulted by partisans, and their buildings were stoned or burnt by arson even in major European countries. Turkish businessman Ali Ekrem Kaynak was killed in Amsterdam sometime after he was verbally and physically assaulted by Erdoğan loyalists over his proximity to the Hizmet movement. There have been similar incidents in the US as well.

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The Economist; Democracy is under threat all around the world.

Democracy is under threat all around the world. There are four stages to dismantling a democracy, starting with a charismatic leader who pledges to save the people

Source: https://twitter.com/TheEconomist/status/1048785226376392704?s=08

 

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Persecuting the future: The child victims of Turkey’s purge under Erdogan’s Regime

Children struggle in the prison of Turkey.
The current panel execution law No:5275 reads” imprisonment is adjourned for women who are pregnant or who have not passed 6 months since birth”.
But…
The mothers of 668 babies in jail committed no offense, they are not proven guilty of the offense, and their indictments are not written…

668 children in Turkish Jails… %64 of them are under the age of three…
72 children are waiting for their mothers outside, ages ranging from 8 months old to 14 years old…
13 children drowned in Aegean sea or Evros River…

 

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International Bar Association Raises Judicial Independence in Turkey to UN

09/28/2018

International Bar Association Raises Judicial Independence in Turkey to UN

In a joint submission with two other groups, the International Bar Association (IBA) raised the issue of independence of judges and judicial independence in Turkey to a special rapporteur from the United Nations.

The dismal state of rule of law and the judiciary in Turkey continues to attract attention from relevant international bodies. In cooperation with the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and the Law Society of England and Wales, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) submitted a report to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of Judges and Lawyers.

The report mostly focuses on the collapse of the rights and protections regarding the legal profession in a steady way since 2010. But, according to the study, the situation concerns Turkey’s judiciary, judicial independence and other legal rights have dramatically been shredded and worsened since the failed 2016 coup. Both during and after the state of emergency, members of judiciary faced political crackdown and imprisonment en masse.

“Prior to the failed attempt, the Turkish government had been increasingly interfering with, and exercising undue influence over, the legal profession using adverse constitutional and legislative reforms together with systematic attacks against judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other legal professionals,” the study noted.

Since the failed coup, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has only sharpened its clampdown on its social and political opponents, as well as members of the judiciary.

Thousands of military officials, police officers, diplomats, academics, teachers, judges and prosecutors have been dismissed over coup terrorism-related charges with little evidence.

To this date, the report stated that “4,279 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed.”

“Five hundred and ninety lawyers have been arrested, 1,546 prosecuted and 181 convicted.”

Resource:
https://twitter.com/IBAHRI/status/1045312267762487297

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Justice suffocates in post-coup Turkey: LAWYERS BEHIND BARS

The bloody July 15th coup attempt proved to be a turning point in the course of the crackdown and witch-hunt the AKP government had launched in the aftermath of the December 17-25 corruption probe.

 

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Severity of Human Rights Violations in Turkey & Support to Turkish Migrants and Refugees

Since the attempted coup of July 15, 2016, the government of Turkey has been taking strict measures to silence dissidents in other countries from various ideologies recently. One of these opposition groups, the Gulen Movement (a.k.a “Hizmet Movement”, meaning service in Turkish), has been the main target since 2013. The Gulen Movement is a faith-based non-political, cultural and educational movement. The Movement is composed of a cluster of religious, educational and social organizations inspired by Fethullah Gulen.

After the July 15 failed coup attempt, the Turkish government accused Fethullah Gulen and his sympathizers for having a connection with the failed coup. Gulen has repeatedly dismissed any involvement in the coup attempt. Foreign intelligence units such as Germany’s BND Foreign Intelligence Agency’s chief, EU intelligence-sharing unit (Intern), UK Parliament and U.S. House Intel Chair have all noted that there is no evidence that shows Gulen’s involvement. Nonetheless, Gulen spoke to global media outlets right after the coup attempt and called for an open international investigation to find out who was behind the attempt.

Yet, the Turkish government chose to declare state of emergency, which still continues, to purge thousands of people. Alleged supporters of the Movement in Turkey have been dealing with arrest, imprisonment, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, confiscation and passport seizure. After the failed coup, more than 130,000 people have been arbitrarily detained and more than 60,000 people have been arrested. Most of them are from the elite part of the society and are all well-educated individuals with different backgrounds such as doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, engineers and so on. The striking point is that most were imprisoned with no compelling evidence of any criminal activity. Nonetheless, there are 17,000 women in jail and 1914 children, where 688 are babies under age of six. There have also been several cases where women who just gave birth have been put in prison with their few days old babies. Moreover, more than 4,400 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed. The government has also seized 3,003 schools, dormitories, and universities. The government has also confiscated more than 800 companies worth more than $10 billion.

All independent media in Turkey have been shut down and confiscated by the government. Turkey is the leading country to imprison most journalists. Turkey has arrested 319 journalists since the coup. A lot of people are arrested for talking against government’s policies. Many students get imprisoned for their critical tweets. 70 thousand students are currently in jail in Turkey.

People are also arrested for having downloaded an encrypted messaging phone application called ByLock. The government believes coup plotters used this application. The Turkish Intelligence Organization (MIT) has handed over a list of people who have allegedly downloaded the application. People who are alleged of downloading the application have been imprisoned. Prof. Izzet Özgenç, who is one of the founders of the Turkish Penal Code, emphasized that the Bylock arrests made without revealing any evidence are unlawful. Recently, Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that close to 11 thousand people have been mistakenly investigated for use of ByLock. Turkey has also put the Amnesty International’s Turkey head, Taner Kiliç in jail for having downloaded block. While Kiliç claims that he has never downloaded the application, he is facing imprisonment for up to 15 years.

International human rights organizations have condemned and reported the human rights violations occurring in Turkey. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) announced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the winner of ‘Most Outrageous Use of Terror Laws Against the Press’ and ‘Most Thin-skinned’ awards. A new report released by the independent, non-profit and non-partisan watchdog organization Freedom House concluded that democratic principles such as election integrity and freedom of the press, political and civil rights have severely downgraded in Turkey that is no longer ‘a free country’. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in its recent “World Report 2018” that innocent people are imprisoned with no substantial evidence, inalienable rights have been taken away, and that there are more than 2,200 cases of torture and ill-treatment. Hugh Williamson, Europe, and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch said that “everywhere you look, checks and balances that protect human rights and rule of law in Turkey are being eroded”.

Due to increasingly severe human rights violations in Turkey, families have chosen to leave their country to seek safe haven. Many families have sought to enter Europe to seek asylum due to geographical proximity. However, there are also thousands of people who have also successfully reached and sought asylum in the United States. Unfortunately not everyone successfully reaches Europe. On November 21, 2017, Greek media reported that Greek authorities have found bodies of five members of the Maden family, including three children, a short time ago on the Greek Island of Lesvos. The father, Huseyin Maden, and mother, Nur Maden, were allegedly linked to the Gulen Movement and was forced to flee due to arrest warrant issued out on their names. The drowning has sparked outrage over an ongoing political purge.

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. Recently some Turkish teachers and principles who worked at schools funded by the Gulen Movement in Malaysia, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan have been abducted, and in some cases illegally deported back to Turkey.

Families who have successfully reached the United States by escaping the oppression of the Turkish government are now facing new challenges. Most of the families have left everything behind in Turkey; jobs, houses, education, relatives and the Turkish government have blocked their bank accounts. Some families were able to only bring a single luggage.

These families are now in need of shelter, financial support, and acceptance of their asylum applications. You could help by personally providing donations to these individuals, or donate through human rights organizations like Embrace Relief or Advocates of Silenced Turkey, who focuses on these Turkish nationals. You could also help with helping them attain legal help and cover legal fees for their asylum applications, with their education fees. Some other ways you can help is by sending support letters regarding the persecution of these Gulen sympathizers to relevant bodies such as the State Department, embassies and the European Court of Human Rights. You can also create awareness using social media and encourage other human rights and humanitarian aid organizations to create campaigns on behalf of these individuals. Given their circumstance, we hope that you can help these people through your support. Every bit of help will aggregate to make a big difference.


Download as a PDF File: AST_1-25-2018_SEVERITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN TURKEY & SUPPORT TO TURKISH MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES_P9

 

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How The Supporters Of The Hizmet Movement Suffer From Persecutions By The Turkish Government?

Introduction

The Turkish government’s oppressive regime and strict measures against dissidents, especially the Hizmet Movement, have created a new group of people seeking asylum around the world. This paper includes many statements from various organizations and experts on the current situation in Turkey in terms of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Hence, this study aims to shed light on how the authorities are expected to react towards asylum cases from Turkish applicants citing the risk of persecution based on their links with the Hizmet Movement.

1. Situation in Turkey in terms of Human Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, Rule of Law and Democracy

1.1. Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2018, 19 January 2018

Turkey’s status declined from Partly Free to Not Free, its political rights rating declined from 4 to 5, and its civil liberties rating declines from 5 to 6 due to a deeply flawed constitutional referendum that centralized power in the presidency, the mass replacement of elected mayors with government appointees, arbitrary prosecutions of rights activists and other perceived enemies of the state, and continued purges of state employees, all of which have left citizens hesitant to express their views on sensitive topics.

Constitutional revisions that concentrated power in the presidency were adopted in an April referendum. The campaign featured a grossly uneven playing field, and last-minute changes to the criteria for validating ballots—made in contravention of the law—undermined the legitimacy of the vote count.

The fear of arbitrary arrest stifled public discussion and weakened civil society.

1.2. Human Rights Watch, World Report 2018, 18 January 2018

Many decrees adopted contained measures that undermine human rights safeguards and conflict with Turkey’s international human rights obligations.

In January, the government ruled on the establishment of an ad hoc commission to review decisions made under the state of emergency. The commission lacks independence since its seven members are appointed by the same authorities responsible for approving dismissals and closures. … In the meantime, those affected have no right to work in public service, their bank accounts are frozen, and passports confiscated.

Turkey is the world leader in jailing journalists and media workers as they face criminal investigations and trials, with around 150 behind bars at time of writing. Most newspapers and television channels lack independence and promote the government’s political line.

There were widespread reports of police beating detainees, subjecting them to prolonged stress positions and threats of rape, threats to lawyers, and interference with medical examinations.

1.3. United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression on his mission to Turkey, 7 June 2017

The state of emergency decrees adopted in the aftermath of the coup attempt are far-reaching and give authorities wide discretionary powers to derogate from human rights obligations, without providing adequate channels for judicial review and appeal.

The Government is obligated to ensure that any restriction on freedom of expression during the state of emergency is strictly proportionate to the exigency of the situation. The tests of necessity and proportionality are not suspended during a period of derogation linked with a state of emergency.

1.4. Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2016/17, 21 February 2017

Freedom of expression deteriorated sharply during the year. After the declaration of a state of emergency, 118 journalists were remanded in pre-trial detention and 184 media outlets were arbitrarily and permanently closed down under executive decrees, leaving opposition media severely restricted. People expressing dissent, especially in relation to the Kurdish issue, were subjected to threats of violence and criminal prosecution. Internet censorship increased. At least 375 NGOs, including women’s rights groups, lawyers’ associations and humanitarian organizations, were shut by executive decree in November.

After July, the authorities used state of emergency laws to issue blanket bans preventing demonstrations in cities across Turkey. [P]olice used excessive force against people attempting to exercise the right to freedom of peaceful assembly regardless of the bans.

The state of emergency removed protections for detainees and allowed previously banned practices, which helped facilitate torture and other ill-treatment: the maximum pre-charge detention period was increased from four to 30 days; and facilities to block detainees’ access to lawyers in pre-charge detention for five days, and to record conversations between client and lawyer in pre-trial detention and pass them to prosecutors were introduced. Detainees’ access to lawyers and the right to consult with their choice of lawyers – rather than state-provided lawyers – was further restricted. Medical examinations were carried out in the presence of police officers and the reports arbitrarily denied to detainees’ lawyers.

Widespread torture and other ill-treatment of suspects accused of taking part in the coup attempt was reported in its immediate aftermath. In July, severe beatings, sexual assault, threats of rape and cases of rape were reported, as thousands were detained in official and unofficial police detention. Military officers appeared to be targeted for the worst physical abuse but holding detainees in stress positions and keeping them handcuffed behind their backs, and denying them adequate food and water or toilet breaks were reported to have taken place on a far wider scale. Lawyers and detainees’ relatives were often not informed that individuals had been detained until they were brought for charge.

1.5. Amnesty International, Annual Report 2015/16, 24 February 2016

Politically motivated appointments and transfers of judges and prosecutors continued throughout the year, wreaking havoc on a judiciary already lacking independence and impartiality. Criminal Courts of Peace – with jurisdiction over the conduct of criminal investigations, such as pre-charge detention and pre-trial detention decisions, seizure of property and appeals against these decisions – came under increasing government control.

1.6. Hugh Williams, Europe and Central Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, 18 January 2018

Everywhere you look, checks and balances that protect human rights and rule of law in Turkey are being eroded. The move to a presidential system, the ongoing state of emergency, and charges against opposition lawmakers have all weakened parliament, the courts are under ever tighter government control, and the crackdown on media and civil society deepens.

1.7. Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights (former), 7 October 2016

The decrees have introduced sweeping measures affecting, among others, civil society, municipalities, private schools, universities and medical establishments, legal professionals, media, business and finance, as well as the family members of suspects…. [T]he series of emergency decrees adopted in Turkey since July created very far-reaching, almost unlimited discretionary powers for administrative authorities and the executive in any areas, by derogation from general principles of rule of law and human rights safeguards ordinarily applicable in a democratic society.

Turkish authorities should immediately start repealing the emergency decrees, starting with the provisions which allow the highest degrees of arbitrariness in their application and stray the widest from ordinary guarantees.

1.8. British Legal Experts Lord Woolf, Sir Jeffrey Jowell, Sir Edward Garnier, July 2015

Since December 2013, the government has taken unprecedented steps to exert executive control over Turkey’s judiciary, to interfere with and derail the corruption investigation, to stifle criticism in the media and on the internet. The government has brought the main institution responsible for the judiciary, the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, under its control by purging its members of anyone suspected of opposing the AKP government.

1.9. Riza Turmen, Judge at the European Court of Human Rights (former)

Turkey has a serious regime problem; it is not a democracy – you can probably call it ‘elected authoritarianism.’ It is a majoritarian and hegemonic system.

2. Persecutions that the Supporters of the Hizmet Movement Face

2.1. Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2018, 19 January 2018

Using emergency powers and vaguely worded terrorism laws, the authorities had suspended or dismissed more than 110,000 people from public-sector positions and arrested more than 60,000 others by year’s end. Extensive use of pretrial detention meant that many suspects were held behind bars for long periods without due process. There was increasing evidence of extrajudicial “disappearances” and routine torture of political detainees.

2.2. Human Rights Watch, World Report 2018, 18 January 2018

Hundreds of media outlets, associations, foundations, private hospitals, and educational establishments that the government shut down by decree remained closed in 2017, their assets confiscated without compensation.

2.3. Amnesty International, No End in Sight: Purged Public Sector Workers Denied a Future in Turkey, 22 May 2017

[D]ecrees include similarly vague and non-individualized references to their connection to (unspecified) terrorist organizations or threat to national security. Nor has any individualized evidence been presented in the few examples of written decisions carried out under the authority of the decrees.

The government decrees also require their passports to be cancelled, preventing them from leaving the country. Others, along with their families, have lost housing and health care benefits provided through their jobs. Many have lost not only their jobs but the ability to carry on their professions, even in the private sector. After being tainted as “terrorists” through their dismissal, many have not been able to find work at all, inhibiting their right to work and their right to an adequate standard of living in the long term.

No individualized justification or evidence for the dismissal of public sector employees has been provided in the decrees or in subsequent administrative decisions made under the authority of the decrees. Neither have dismissed public sector employees been able to obtain information about the grounds for their dismissal either before or following their dismissal, beyond the vague generalized criteria of links to a terrorist organization or threat to national security. … Among the reasons advanced by dismissed public sector employees and their supporters, are people’s actual or perceived opposition to the ruling AK Party government, union activism, and local score-settling.

It remains uncertain for example whether dismissed individuals will be able to claim their full pension rights resulting from their years of service in the public sector. What is clear and stated explicitly in the decrees, is that in addition to being dismissed from their employment, they are expelled from all forms of public service. Given the broad interpretation of public service in Turkey, in many cases this means that dismissed people are effectively banned from continuing their professions.

All of the people Amnesty International spoke to were either living off their savings, being assisted by friends or family, doing jobs such as cleaning in the irregular economy, or surviving on the minimal amount paid to dismissed workers who are members of trade unions. None of the people interviewed believed that they could survive in the long term under these circumstances.

The fact that lists of dismissed people have been published in the decrees and on the internet, and form part of a person’s record, visible to state institutions and the public at large has led to additional pressures on them and their families.

2.4. United States Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, 3 March 2017

Other human rights problems included prison overcrowding compounded by the influx of tens of thousands of new prisoners after the coup attempt. The government fired more than 3,000 members of the judiciary, creating an atmosphere of fear that further limited judicial independence and complicated or delayed court proceedings.

The vast majority were accused of ties to the Gulen movement, as opposed to direct participation in the coup attempt itself. Under the state of emergency, detainees could be held without charge for up to 30 days. There were numerous accounts of persons waiting beyond 30 days to be formally charged.

The suspension, detention, firing, and freezing of personal assets of more than 3,000 members of the judiciary after the July 15 coup attempt (representing about 22 percent of the total) accused of affiliation with the Gulen movement had a chilling effect on judicial independence.

After the July 15 coup attempt, the government seized hundreds of businesses and an estimated 15 billion lira ($4 billion) in assets from alleged members of the Gulen movement.

After the coup attempt, the government targeted family members to exert pressure on some wanted suspects. Under the state of emergency, the government cancelled the passports of family members of civil servants suspended from work as well as of those who had fled authorities. In some cases, the government cancelled or refused to issue passports for the minor children of accused Gulenists who were outside the country, forcing family separation.

3. Approaches of Other Foreign Government Towards Asylum Cases from Turkish Applicants Citing the Risk of Persecution based on Their Links with the Hizmet Movement

3.1. Norway, Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security, 12 October 2017

[A] generally worsening human rights situation in that country have led to a new group of applicants seeking protection in Norway. These are persons who cite the risk of persecution based on links, or alleged links, to the Fethullah Gülen network/ movement. … These applicants can risk arrest, imprisonment, torture and conviction and will be entitled to protection … and that in some cases also family members of active Gülen affiliates may be entitled to protection. … The majority who have sought protection in Norway to date have been professors at, or have some other professional connections to, the Gülen schools and colleges at home and abroad.

[A]pplicants with credible indications of involvement within the Gülen movement, or applicants who can show that the domestic authorities in their country of origin have alleged such involvement, and where the actual or alleged involvement may trigger persecution by the authorities, shall be entitled to protection under the Immigration Act. … Referral to internal displacement will not be applicable, since the Turkish authorities control the whole country.

3.2. Canada, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 29 September 2016

[I]nstead of targeting Gulen’s followers who “engaged in genuine criminal activity or abuse of power …” the AKP prosecutors targeted “journalists, businesspeople and academics who appear to be guilty of little more than sympathy for Gulen’s publicly expressed calls for moderation, non-violence and interfaith dialogue.

3.3. United Kingdom, Home Office Country Policy and Information Note, Turkey: Gulenism, April 2017

As the person’s fear is of persecution or serious harm from the state, they will not be able to avail themselves of the protection of the authorities. … As the person’s fear is of persecution or serious harm at the hands of the state, they will not be able to internally relocate to escape that risk. … Where a claim is refused, it is unlikely to be certifiable as ‘clearly unfounded.’

Overall Evaluation

In the light of all this information and comments, we ask governments, law enforcement officers and security officers to be aware of the risks that the supporters of the Movement may face when they return to their home countries. The Hizmet Movement is known to be promoting non-violence, inter-faith dialogue and education. Members of the Movement have not engaged any violent/criminal activity so far representing a moderate understanding of Islam. Therefore, existence of the Movement is important for the whole world to diminish radicalism where radicals have been creating disasters around the world. We request authorities to consider all these while taking action and speed up the asylum processes as much as possible since these people need immediate help.


Download as a PDF File: AST_1-25-2018_HOW-THE-SUPPORTERS-OF-THE-HIZMET-MOVEMENT-SUFFER-FROM-PERSECUTIONS-BY-THE-TURKISH-GOVERNMENT_P8

 

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Human Rights Watch’s Report Shows the Severity of Human Rights Violations in Turkey

On January 18, 2018, the Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) published a report reviewing the human rights practices around the world in 2017. The report titled “World Report 2018: Events of 2017” examined more than 90 countries including Turkey. In parts relevant to Turkey, the HRW scrutinized a wide range of topics such as the state of emergency measures, freedom of expression, association and assembly, torture and ill-treatment in custody as well as refugees’ situation.

The report firstly referred to the April 2017 referendum which introduced a new presidential system lacking satisfactory system of checks and balances. It highlighted the fact that the referendum was carried out under the state of emergency in an environment of heavy media censorship. The HRW’s points about the new presidential system indeed indicate that the separation of powers is at risk in Turkey whereas it is one of the most significant components of democracy.

The state of emergency measures also attract attention. The president can adopt decree laws without parliamentary oversight or the possibility of judicial review according to Turkish legislation. As reported by the HRW, these decree laws include many controversial measures incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities under the international human rights law. More than 110,000 people were dismissed or suspended from their public positions with no explanation but only their names on lists published via decree laws. The government shut down plenty of institutions including media outlets, businesses, schools and universities, hospitals and non-governmental organizations such as associations and foundations. What is worse, there is still no effective authority for all these real and legal persons to apply for a review. People had little hope when the “State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission” was introduced to investigate measures taken under the state of emergency. Nevertheless, as stated by the HRW, independence of the Commission is doubtful since all of its members are appointed with the government’s approval. Further appeal is possible on the paper, but it is likely to take too much time because of the high influx of applications and applicants have nothing else but wait about their right to work in public service to be taken away, bank accounts to be frozen and passports to be canceled.

Many people including teachers, public servants such as police officers and military personnel, journalists and politicians were either arrested or detained under the state of emergency as well. The striking point is that most were imprisoned with no compelling evidence of any criminal activity, but only because of their alleged links with the Hizmet Movement inspired by an Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen who has been blamed by the government to mastermind the coup attempt. It is crucial to note here that the Movement has been strongly denying any involvement and Mr. Gulen has called for an international investigation on the issue.

Freedom of expression, association and assembly were also violated considerably by the Turkish government. To clarify, the government has blocked many websites and banned a huge amount of content, and all types of peaceful public protests were banned by the government as well as were violently dispersed. Unsurprisingly, Turkey is the leading country in the number of jailed journalists whose trials and case files are again insufficient. The documents used as an evidence against arrested journalists are mostly writing and reporting which do not promote any type of violence. As there is always a prominent risk of imprisonment and censorship, other journalists and media agencies cannot publish anything critical but only pro-government ideas. In March, 21 journalists who were arrested because of their connections with the Hizmet Movement, were released by the court. Their families went to the prison facilities to bring them back to their homes but could not. After huge criticisms by pro-government media, an appeal was lodged against eight of them and a new investigation was started against the rest. Therefore, eventually, none of them were released. In addition, judges and a prosecutor who was at this trial were suspended by the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors. Many of the journalists from the newspaper Zaman, claimed to be supporting the Movement, have been on trial due to writings without a reference to any type of violence and they face life imprisonment.

Not only individuals related to the Hizmet Movement but also leftist and Kurdish people were targeted by the government. According to the HRW’s report, 19 journalists from the newspaper Cumhuriyet were jailed as well. In one of the cases concerning Cumhuriyet, Enis Berberoglu was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment who is a parliamentarian from the main opposition party, Republican People’s Party (CHP). The court of appeal has overturned his conviction, yet he is not released as well as not expected to be released as the government still wants him behind bars. Similarly, plenty of journalists were arrested from the newspaper Ozgur Gundem which was shut down by the government.

Lawyers and human rights defenders received their own shares from the Turkish government’s oppression. Around 500 lawyers have been arrested and 1000 are yet on trial, mostly because of supporting the Hizmet Movement. Chair of Amnesty International, Taner Kilic, has been in prolonged detention with “politically motivated and unsubstantiated charges” as said by the HRW.

The HRW also explored the detention conditions during police custody and concluded that many instances of torture and ill-treatment were witnessed. There have been many cases reported where police officers beat detainees, left them in physically stressed positions and threatened them to rape. Enforced disappearances, scaring defense lawyers and interfering with medical examinations also took place in the country.

Regarding the ongoing conflict in the southeast region, the government could not yet make a progress. Party co-leaders and parliamentarians of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) were sent to prison. Additionally, 89 mayors were dismissed by the government as specified by the report. The government has clearly violated freedom of expression and rights to political association, participation, and representation.

The report highlighted the refugee crisis as well which indeed concerns the whole world. The conditions in which refugees live (mostly Syrian but also from other countries) are not compatible with international standards.

All these were expressed in various occasions by international actors. The United Nations, the European Union, the Council of Europe, the United States State Department and many other foreign governments have called the Turkish government to end this human rights disaster going on in the country as was stated by the Human Rights Watch’s report.


Download as a PDF File: AST_1-22-2018_HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH’S REPORT SHOWS THE SEVERITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN TURKEY_P7

 

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AST Turkey’s Human Rights Violations Weekly Jan 15

Download as pdf: AST_Turkey’s Human Rights Violations Weekly_Jan 15

Turkey’s Human Rights Violations | 1/8/2018-1/15/2018

1-“Seized Gülen dormitory in Istanbul transferred to pro-gov’t Ensar foundation”
https://turkeypurge.com/seized-gulen-dormitory-istanbul-transferred-pro-govt-ensar-foundation

2-“Report: Police chief who fought against ‘Erdogan assassins’ during coup sentenced to 6 years in jail”
https://turkeypurge.com/police-chief-fought-erdogan-assassins-coup-sentenced-6-years-jail

3-“Diyarbakir man says cows seized by gov’t as part of post-coup crackdown”
https://turkeypurge.com/diyarbakir-man-says-cows-seized-govt-part-post-coup-crackdown

4-“Turkey’s pro-gov’t mayors ban theater play ‘Just Dictator’”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkeys-pro-govt-mayors-ban-theater-play-just-dictator

5-“Local deeds officer suspended for insulting Erdogan on social media”
https://turkeypurge.com/local-deeds-officer-suspended-insulting-erdogan-social-media

6-“Pro-Erdogan hackers take over Der Spiegel editor’s Twitter account”
https://turkeypurge.com/pro-erdogan-hackers-take-der-spiegel-editors-twitter-account

7-“7,655 dismissed, 243 others suspended at Health Ministry so far: minister”
https://turkeypurge.com/7655-dismissed-252-others-suspended-health-ministry-far-minister

8-“Prison warden commits suicide after being dismissed on coup charges — claim”
https://turkeypurge.com/prison-warden-commits-suicide-dismissed-coup-charges-claim

9-“Turkey’s prize-winning author Aslı Erdoğan: University students in Turkey are being jailed over tweets”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkeys-prize-winning-author-asli-erdogan-university-students-turkey-jailed-tweets

10-“Imprisoned Kurdish leader Demirtaş makes first appearance in court in 14 months”
https://turkeypurge.com/imprisoned-kurdish-leader-demirtas-makes-first-appearance-court-14-months

11-“2 media outlets closed, 262 dismissed in new gov’t decree”
https://turkeypurge.com/2-media-outlets-closed-262-dismissed-new-govt-decree

12-“Teacher, three others caught in attempt to flee to Greece”
https://turkeypurge.com/teacher-three-others-caught-attempt-flee-greece

13-“Warrants issued for 70 teachers in Turkey’s capital”
https://turkeypurge.com/warrants-issued-70-teachers-turkeys-capital

14-“Pro-Kurdish deputy gets 8 years, 1 month in prison on terror charges”
https://turkeypurge.com/pro-kurdish-deputy-gets-8-years-1-month-prison-terror-charges

15-“Turkey strips another pro-Kurdish deputy of parliamentary status”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkey-strips-another-pro-kurdish-deputy-parliamentary-status

16-“[VIDEO] 25 teachers detained in Turkey’s Samsun”
https://turkeypurge.com/video-25-teachers-detained-turkeys-samsun

17-“Jailed writer Ahmet Altan fined TL 7,000 for insulting Erdogan”
https://turkeypurge.com/jailed-writer-ahmet-altan-fined-tl-7000-insulting-erdogan

18-“French writers, journalists ‘adopt’ Turkish colleagues in solidarity”
https://turkeypurge.com/french-writers-journalists-adopt-turkish-colleagues-solidarity

19-“Report: Ankara investigating 60 businessmen for stock market selloff ahead of 2016 coup attempt”
https://turkeypurge.com/report-ankara-investigating-60-businessmen-stock-market-selloff-ahead-2016-coup-attempt

20-“24 former Bank Asya shareholders put in pretrial detention”
https://turkeypurge.com/24-former-bank-asya-shareholders-put-pretrial-detention

21-“Father of cancer patient boy denied release from prison”
https://turkeypurge.com/court-denies-request-release-father-cancer-patient-child

22-” Journalist, writer and 28 others detained in Istanbul”
https://turkeypurge.com/journalist-writer-28-others-detained-istanbul

23-“Turkey issues detention warrants for 56 more military members over coup charges”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkey-issues-detention-warrants-56-military-members-coup-charges

24-“[VIDEO] Dismissed air force pilot detained while selling waffle in Konya: report”
https://turkeypurge.com/video-dismissed-air-force-pilot-detained-selling-waffle-konya-report

25-“Jailed father allowed to attend son’s funeral only with handcuffs”
https://turkeypurge.com/jailed-father-allowed-attend-sons-funeral-handcuffs

26-“Theater play on dictatorship not allowed to be staged in Turkey’s Artvin”
https://turkeypurge.com/theater-play-dictatorship-not-allowed-turkeys-artvin

27-“Jailed engineer to judge: You will stand trial when democracy comes to this country!”
https://turkeypurge.com/jailed-engineer-judge-will-stand-trial-democracy-comes-country

28-“[VIDEO] 8 including pharmacists, lawyers detained over Gulen links”
https://turkeypurge.com/video-8-including-pharmacists-lawyers-detained-gulen-links

29-“[VIDEO] 5 children, 8 others detained while on way to escape to Greece”
https://turkeypurge.com/video-5-children-8-others-detained-way-escape-greece

30-“President Erdoğan once again sues Turkey’s main opposition leader over ‘insult’: report”
https://turkeypurge.com/president-erdogan-sues-turkeys-main-opposition-leader-insult-report

31-“Turkish gov’t uses emergency rule to suppress dissent: opposition leader”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkish-govt-uses-emergency-rule-suppress-dissent-says-opposition-leader

32-“Imprisoned teacher dies of cancer in Balıkesir — claim”
https://turkeypurge.com/imprisoned-teacher-dies-cancer-balikesir-claim

33-“Turkey’s post-coup State of Emergency to be extended for another 3 months: gov’t”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkeys-post-coup-state-emergency-extended-another-3-months-govt

34-“262 more dismissed, 1,828 reinstated with new gov’t decree”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2018/01/12/262-more-dismissed-1828-reinstated-with-new-govt-decree/

35-“20 more detained in Bursa, Antalya over Gülen links”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2018/01/12/20-more-detained-in-bursa-antalya-over-gulen-links/

36-“Jailed police chiefs who led 2013 corruption ops taken to police HQ”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2018/01/14/jailed-police-chiefs-who-led-2013-corruption-ops-taken-to-police-hq/

37-“Int’l NGOs slam lower courts’ failure to free jailed journalists Altan, Alpay”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2018/01/12/intl-ngos-slam-lower-courts-failure-to-free-jailed-journalists-altan-alpay/

38-“Former President Gül expresses support for top court ruling on Altan, Alpay”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2018/01/12/former-president-gul-expresses-support-for-top-court-ruling-on-altan-alpay/

39-“Gov’t slams top court for decision on Altan and Alpay”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2018/01/12/govt-slams-top-court-for-decision-on-altan-and-alpay/

40-“German-Turkish footballer says shot at on highway in western Germany”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2018/01/08/german-turkish-footballer-says-shot-at-on-highway-in-western-germany/

41-“Turkey warned of judicial crisis over jailed journalists”
https://www.ft.com/content/048dc200-f932-11e7-9b32-d7d59aace167

42-“Turkish writer Asli Erdogan: ‘Thousands of students are in jail for one tweet'”
http://www.france24.com/en/20180112-interview-asli-erdogan-turkey-trial-crackdown-students-human-rights-eu-macron

43-“A new refugee flow to Europe: Turkish refugees”
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/01/turkey-turkish-refugee-flow-to-europe.html

44-“Turkish courts reject jailed journalists’ request to be released”
https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/turkish-courts-reject-jailed-journalists-request-to-be-released/

45-“Biggest prison for journalists: Turkey prepares for election year”
https://eadaily.com/en/news/2018/01/09/biggest-prison-for-journalists-turkey-prepares-for-election-year

46-“Ergun Babahan wrote about risk of torture for police chiefs”
https://silencedturkey.org/ergun-babahan-wrote-about-risk-of-torture-for-police-chiefs

47-“Honorary President of Court of Cassation of Turkey, Sami Selçuk: Last Nail in the Coffin”
https://silencedturkey.org/sami-selcuk-last-nail-in-the-coffin

Türkiye tarafından işlenenen İnsan Hakları İhlalleri | 1/8/2018-1/15/2018

1-“Türkiye’de hukuk nasıl ayaklar altına alındı nasıl zulüm aracına dönüştü!”
http://aktifhaber.com/analiz/turkiyede-hukuk-nasil-ayaklar-altina-alindi-nasil-zulum-aracina-donustu-h110682.html

2-“17 Aralık polis şeflerine emniyette işkence mi yapılıyor”
http://aktifhaber.com/15-temmuz/17-aralik-polis-seflerine-emniyette-iskence-mi-yapiliyor-h110681.html

3-“ByLock kullanmadığı tespit edilmesine rağmen 16 ay tutuklu kalan vatandaş isyan etti”
http://aktifhaber.com/15-temmuz/bylock-kullanmadigi-tespit-edilmesine-ragmen-16-ay-tutuklu-kalan-vatandas-isyan-etti-h110680.html

4-“‘Erdoğan’a suikast timi’ ile çatışan polis Bylock’tan tutuklandı”
http://aktifhaber.com/15-temmuz/erdogana-suikast-timi-ile-catisan-polis-bylocktan-tutuklandi-h110672.html

5-“Gözaltına aldıkları anneyi 4 aylık bebeğinden ayırıp Bayburt’a götürdüler”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/gozaltina-aldiklari-anneyi-4-aylik-bebeginden-ayirip-bayburta-goturduler-h110669.html

6-“Kahramanmaraş Emniyeti’ndeki işkenceci polisler ortaya çıktı”
http://aktifhaber.com/genel/kahramanmaras-emniyetindeki-iskenceci-polisler-ortaya-cikti-h110667.html

7-“Spiegel’in genel yayın yönetmeninin Twitter hesabı hacklendi”
http://aktifhaber.com/dunya/spiegelin-genel-yayin-yonetmeninin-twitter-hesabi-hacklendi-h110665.html

8-“Eski AKP’li Osman Can: Mahkemelerin tahliyeye direnmesi hukuken yanlış”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/eski-akpli-osman-can-mahkemelerin-tahliyeye-direnmesi-hukuken-yanlis-h110663.html

9-“Rektör Erdöl’den Soylu’nun ‘ayak kırın’ talimatına destek”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/rektor-erdolden-soylunun-ayak-kirin-talimatina-destek-h110661.html

10-“Ergun Babahan polis şeflerine yapılan işkenceyi yazdı”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/ergun-babahan-polis-seflerine-yapilan-iskenceyi-yazdi-h110659.html

11-“Alpay ve Altan’ın tahliye edilmemesine büyük tepki!”
http://aktifhaber.com/medya/alpay-ve-altanin-tahliye-edilmemesine-buyuk-tepki-h110645.html

12-“Hukukçu Varol ByLock’la ilgili: Dosyalar boş ama 9-10 yıl ceza veriliyor”
http://aktifhaber.com/15-temmuz/hukukcu-varol-bylockla-ilgili-dosyalar-bos-ama-9-10-yil-ceza-veriliyor-h110632.html

13-“Gözaltına aldıkları anneyi 4 aylık bebeğinden ayırıp Bayburt’a götürdüler”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/gozaltina-aldiklari-anneyi-4-aylik-bebeginden-ayirip-bayburta-goturduler-h110669.html

14-“İhraç edilen savaş pilotu, kumpir satarken kıskıvrak(!) yakalandı”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/ihrac-edilen-savas-pilotu-kumpir-satarken-kiskivrak-yakalandi-h110459.html

15-“Bebekli kadınların tutuklanmasının Türk hukukunda da İslamda da yeri yok!”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/bebekli-kadinlarin-tutuklanmasinin-turk-hukukunda-da-islamda-da-yeri-yok-h110449.html

16-“AKP’nin OHAL’i 3 kişinin daha hayatını kararttı..”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/akpnin-ohali-3-kisinin-daha-hayatini-karartti-h110427.html

17-“Berk Görmez’in cenazesine babasını kelepçeyle getirdiler!”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/berk-gormezin-cenazesine-babasini-kelepceyle-getirdiler-h110411.html

18-“Cinsel istismarı kamera ile kayıt altına alındı; yine de red etti..”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/cinsel-istismari-kamera-ile-kayit-altina-alindi-yine-de-red-etti-h110401.html

19-“OHAL’in suç karnesi: 126 suç türü!”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/ohalin-suc-karnesi-126-suc-turu-h110347.html

20-“Geç kalan adalet, bir öğretmenin daha hayatını kararttı..”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/gec-kalan-adalet-bir-ogretmenin-daha-hayatini-karartti-h110328.html

21-“Gergerlioğlu: Berk’i kaybettik, bari Eray babasını görmeli”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/gergerlioglu-berki-kaybettik-bari-eray-babasini-gormeli-h110289.html

22-“Emekli Hakim Kardaş: ByLock’ta sadece isim bildiren listeler delil kabul edilemez”
http://aktifhaber.com/15-temmuz/emekli-hakim-kardas-bylockta-sadece-isim-bildiren-listeler-delil-kabul-edilemez-h110633.html

23-“Alman Freie Presse Gazetesi: Hizmet Hareketi mensuplarının mağduriyetlerini yer verdi”
http://aktifhaber.com/15-temmuz/alman-freie-presse-gazetesi-hizmet-hareketi-mensuplarinin-magduriyetlerini-yer-verdi-h110607.html

24-“Türkiye Barolar Birliği Başkanı Feyzioğlu: AYM’nin kararı bağlayıcıdır”
http://aktifhaber.com/politika/turkiye-barolar-birligi-baskani-feyzioglu-aymnin-karari-baglayicidir-h110603.html

25-“Emniyet Müdürü’nden Soylu’ya mesaj: Yeri gelirse kafalarını kıracağız”
http://aktifhaber.com/genel/emniyet-mudurunden-soyluya-mesaj-yeri-gelirse-kafalarini-kiracagiz-h110573.html

26-“TÜRGEV ve Ensar Vakfı’nın 3 yurdunda öğrencilerin hayatı hiçe sayıldı”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/turgev-ve-ensar-vakfinin-3-yurdunda-ogrencilerin-hayati-hice-sayildi-h110559.html

27-“Yargıtay Onursal Başkanı Sami Selçuk: Tabuta son çivi”
https://www.evrensel.net/haber/283205/yargitay-onursal-baskani-sami-selcuk-tabuta-son-civi

28-“Mevcut rejim bakimindan anayasa mahkemesi’nin Alpay ve Altan kararlari ”
http://www.tr724.com/mevcut-rejim-bakimindan-anayasa-mahkemesinin-alpay-altan-kararlari/

29-“15 Temmuz’da erdoğan’i korumak için çatişan polise Bylock’tan 6 yil 3 ay hapis”
http://www.tr724.com/15-temmuzda-erdogani-korumak-icin-catisan-polise-bylocktan-6-yil-3-ay-hapis/

30-“Bayraktar’a ‘ben dilenci değilim’ diye isyan eden lenf kanseri hastasi Dilek Özçelik hayatini kaybetti”
http://www.tr724.com/bayraktara-ben-dilenci-degilim-diye-isyan-eden-lenf-kanseri-hastasi-dilek-ozcelik-hayatini-kaybetti/

31-“TBMM’nin önünde kendini yakan işçiye fiili gözalti!”
http://www.tr724.com/tbmmnin-onunde-kendini-yakan-isciye-fiili-gozalti/

32-” Yok böyle bir “taniklik”: mahkemede gerçekleri söyleyince segbis’i dondurdular, davayi ertelediler!”
http://www.tr724.com/yok-boyle-bir-taniklik-mahkemede-gercekleri-soyleyince-segbisi-dondurdular-davayi-ertelediler/

33-” OHAL’de cezaevlerindeki sağlik hakki ihlalleri artti: her yil 215 kişi hayatini kaybediyor”
http://www.tr724.com/ohalde-cezaevlerindeki-saglik-hakki-ihlalleri-artti-her-yil-215-kisi-hayatini-kaybediyor/

35-“16 Temmuz sabahi köprüde ilk kez yayinlanan görüntüler: 4 tanesini öldürdük…”
http://www.tr724.com/16-temmuz-sabahi-koprude-ilk-kez-yayinlanan-goruntuler-4-tanesini-oldurduk/

35-“Avrupa parlamentosu’ndan aym kararina uygulamayan mahkemelere tepki ”
http://www.tr724.com/avrupa-parlamentosundan-aym-kararina-uygulamayan-mahkemelere-tepki/

36-“Freedom House: ‘Bazı devlet görevlileri cezadan muaf gibi davranıyor’”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/freedom-house-bazi-devlet-gorevlileri-cezadan-muaf-gibi-davraniyor/

37-” ’11 bin 480 ByLock mağduru buz dağının görünen yüzü’”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/11-bin-480-bylock-magduru-buz-daginin-gorunen-yuzu/

38-“HÖH’ten soruşturma açıklaması: Memnuniyet duyduk, gururluyuz”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/hohten-sorusturma-aciklamasi-memnuniyet-duyduk-gururluyuz/

39-“Çöpe atılan kitapta parmak izi çıkan üniversite öğrencisi gözaltına alındı”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/cope-atilan-kitapta-parmak-izi-cikan-22-yasindaki-genc-kizi-gozaltina-aldilar/

40-“Açlığın 310’uncu günü: ‘Bir komisyon var mı’ emin değiliz”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/acligin-310uncu-gunu-bir-komisyon-var-mi-emin-degiliz/

41-” Savcılık: ‘Muharrem’in cenazesinin çuvalda taşınmasında ihmal yok’”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/cenazesi-cuvalda-tasinan-muharremin-olumunde-ihmal-gorulmedi/

42-” AYM ‘hak ihlali’ yorumu: ‘Doğru kararı ilk derece mahkemesi verir’”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/mahkemeler-feto-ile-mucadeleyi-zaafa-ugratmamali/

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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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