Veysel Akçay, the General Director of the schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in Mongolia who has lived in Mongolia for over 24 years, was abducted by Turkey’s notorious National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) Friday morning (7/27/18) in front of his house in the capital city Ulan Bator.
It was reported that a private jet plane is waiting at the Ulan Bator Airport to transfer Akçay to Turkey. Akçay, who has worked at the educational institutions in Mongolia for 24 years, is reportedly one of a few Turkish nationals possessing the Mongolian Friendship Medal bestowed by Mongolian State.
New York-based Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) said that on Friday, at 9:00 am (local time in Mongolia) Veysel Akçay left his home to his workplace at the Empathy Worldwide Educational Institution. According to eyewitnesses (and CCTV recordings), he was stopped by a minibus in front of his house and abducted by people working on behalf of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT).
As it is known Turkish government has been taking strict measures to silence dissidents from various ideologies. Gulen/Hizmet Movement 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. There are many examples of abductions and physical violence incidents in several countries like Sudan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Georgia, Myanmar, Kosovo and Malaysia.
According to a statement made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, over 100 alleged members of the Gülen movement have been abducted by MİT agents abroad and brought back to Turkey as part of the Turkish government’s global manhunt.
Around 12 AM Eastern Time (5-6 hours after abduction), Meryem Akcay announced that her husband Veysel Akcay has returned home safely. Resistance from citizens and politicians has prevented the illegal transfer to Turkey. We thank the Mongolian government and officials for resisting the illegal transfer of Veysel Akcay, showing careful attention to the situation and standing firmly for the rule of law. We urge the Mongolian government to investigate Veysel Akcay’s case, open a legal case against MIT officials and other people who engaged in this illegal act, and ensure the safety of Gulen sympathizers in Mongolia.
Download sample statement as a word document:
We urge everyone to take action. Express your views or send attached statement to following addresses:
2) Prime Minister of Mongolia, Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh
Phone: +976 99113937
Twitter handle: @UKhurelsukh
4) Permanent Mission of Mongolia to the United Nations
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: +1 (212) 861-9460, +1 (212) 472-6517
Fax: +1 (212) 861-9464
Twitter handle: @nymongolia
5) Embassy of Mongolia to the United States
Email Address: email@example.com
Phone: +1 202-333-7117
Fax: +1 202-298-9227
Twitter handle: @MGLEmbassy_USA
6) The delegation of the European Union to Mongolia
Head of the Delegation: Mr. Traian Laurentiu Hristea
Email Address: DELEGATION-MONGOLIA@eeas.europa.eu
News articles on the abduction of Veysel Akcay:
Social media posts on the abduction of Veysel Akcay:
Мөв мөрөөрөө 20 жил Мглд хичээл заасан багшийг минь Туркээс тусгай онгоц ирээд өнөө өглөө гэрийнх нь гаднаас хулгайлчихлаа. Тусгай онгоц нь одоо Нисэх др бгаа. Туркт аваачаад шоронд хийнэ,олон жилээр сураггүй алга бно. Өөр улсуудад ч бас ингэж бгаа.Диктатур төр ийм бдаг даа.
— Bulgan Bay (@bulganbay) July 27, 2018
URGENT: Veysel Akcay, a Turkish teacher living in Mongolia for over 24 years, is abducted by some "unknown" men this morning infront of his house in Ulaan Baatar,Mongolia. He has been brought to airport and private airplane is waiting at the airport for deportation. @hrw @amnesty
— Human Rights Turkey (@HumanRightsTR) July 27, 2018
— OllooMN (@wwwolloomn) July 27, 2018
Нэмэлт мэдээлэл! Б.Ганбат: Вейсел Акчай захирлыг Туркийн тагнуулынхан хулгайлсан гэж таамаглаж байна https://t.co/atNmYytnef
— Newspress.mn (@Newspressmn) July 27, 2018
Veysel Akcay, a Turkish teacher livin in Mongolia for over 24 years, is abducted by some "unknown" men this morning in Ulaan Baatar.
Whereabouts is unknown.
Please help!@RebHarms@UNHumanRights pic.twitter.com/YHVvK6xcyd
— Abdullah Sinan Çiftler (@ciftler76) July 27, 2018
The fact that Turkish teacher has been abducted and transported to Chinggis Khaan airport for deportation via a private plane by Turkish Airlines is outrageous. It offends citizens of Mongolia. We are a democratic country. And we respect human rights. pic.twitter.com/nh10fG5o9G
— Mukhit B. (@mukhit) July 27, 2018
Videos on the abduction of Veysel Akcay:
Turkish government has pursued an aggressive policy to silence its perceived enemies in at least 46 countries across four continents, as part of its post-coup crackdown, a Foreign Affairs article noted Monday. The Turkish government has been hunting its opponents abroad, particularly the supporters of the Gulen movement since before and after the failed putsch on July 15, 2016, the article said adding that government’s alleged enemies were targeted at least in 46 countries.
Elaborating on the purge abroad, the magazine said: “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 Gulen movement schools.”
Turkish government accuses the movement of masterminding the 2016 failed coup while the latter denies involvement. More than 150,000 has passed through police custody while over a one-third of those were remanded in prison over Gulen links in Turkey. More than 3,000 schools, dormitories, and universities were shuttered while over 1,000 companies were seized at home.
While the article presents an in-depth insight into the chronological relations between the movement and Turkey’s governments in the recent history, it says the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government labeled the group as a terrorist organization before waging an all-out war against it.
“Since the failed coup attempt, Turkey has exerted diplomatic pressure on various governments to arrest or deport hundreds of individuals from around the world. By my count, 15 countries have arrested or deported various representatives of the movement, ranging from supposed financiers to schoolteachers. Those countries include Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Georgia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Turkmenistan. …In at least three cases—Kazakhstan, Myanmar, and Sudan—individuals appear to have been turned over to Turkey without judicial proceedings, perhaps through the operation of a special National Intelligence Organization unit that Turkey’s state news agency says was established to track down “high-value” Gulenists. There have also been multiple cases in which those deported were apparently seeking asylum and thus had protected status at the time they were sent to Turkey: news reports say this was the case in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Malaysia, and Pakistan. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov admitted that the August 2016 deportation of a software engineer who had applied for asylum before the coup attempt was “on the edge of the law.” In other cases, like in Angola, Pakistan, and Qatar, there were mass deportations following the closure of Gulen schools.”
Also, pro-government commentators, such as Cem Kucuk, have talked casually about how MIT should kill members of the Gulen movement abroad, the magazine reported.
Closure of schools abroad
“The movement’s schools are under extreme pressure in the global purge,” the article highlighted before detailing the pressure on Gulenists’ overseas facilities: “Since its falling-out with the Gulenist movement in 2013, the government has been pressing other countries to shutter the schools. The Gambia closed its Gulen schools in April 2014. Turkey’s close ally Azerbaijan followed soon thereafter and Tajikistan shut down its Gulen schools in 2015. But elsewhere in the world, these schools largely remained open until the coup attempt of July 2016, after which Turkey increased the pressure. The results were quick. Schools were almost immediately closed in Jordan, Libya, and Somalia. Angola, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Morocco, and Tanzania followed suit in early 2017. Before the year was out, Afghanistan, Chad, Georgia, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, and Tunisia had all closed or transferred schools.
Pressure extends beyond Gulenists
Not only the supporters of the movement have been targeted, the article said, adding that all alleged government enemies within and outside Turkey were affected.
“In fact, 31 percent of all those arrested in government operations under the state of emergency, which has been in place since October 2016, were associated with Kurdish or leftist groups, according to official figures compiled by iHop, a Turkish human rights monitoring group. Nearly 400 academics who signed a petition before the coup attempt calling for peace between the state and the PKK in January 2016 have also been fired, and some have left Turkey or remained abroad. Others who have been convicted or charged while outside the country now fear traveling because of the threat of detention due to Interpol notices.”
“The global purge has also touched Interpol. In December, the AP reported that Interpol representatives were examining up to 40,000 extradition requests, some perhaps from Turkey, for possible political abuse. The report came after a number of high-profile cases involving Turks abroad, including Dogan Akhanli, a left-wing writer with dual German and Turkish citizenship who was arrested and forced to remain in Spain for two months while Spanish authorities assessed Turkey’s extradition request.”
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.