A Turkish national was abducted in Kuala Lumpur on a broad daylight by unknown operatives who are believed to be affiliated with Turkish government as part of escalating witch-hunt persecution on critics abroad.
Turgay Karaman, the principal of Time International School (Ipoh), was kidnapped by five unknown people at the parking lot of Wisma E & C, a 16-story high-rise building where he came to attend for a meeting. The CCTV camera footages show he was taken away after he exited from his car at the Basement No.5 of the building. Karaman was scheduled to offer his testimony as a defense witness in a trial hearing of the criminal case that was to be held on May 3rd.
His friends filed a missing person report with the police when they could not reach him on the phone after Karaman did not show up for a meeting at the lawyers’ office in the afternoon of May 2. They later found that his Toyota brand car was abandoned in a parking lot. The United Nation’s office in Kuala Lumpur was also alerted about possible abduction of a foreign national in Malaysia by clandestine groups operating on behalf of Turkish government.
Ayşe Karaman, the wife of Turgay Karaman asked for help from the Malaysian government to determine her husband’s whereabouts. Speaking in a video recorded after her husband’s abduction on Tuesday, Ayşe Karaman said her husband was kidnapped by five Malaysian men and that she has received no information about him since he was abducted.
Underlining that they have been legally living in Malaysia for 13 years, Ayşe Karaman said her husband is a gentleman who has never been involved in any crime. “I am calling on the Malaysian government to help as he is a gentleman and never hurt anyone,” she said.
The Time International School is managed by people affiliated with Hizmet movement, popularly known as Gülen movement that is inspired by the US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, a major critic of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on massive corruption in Turkish government and Ankara’s arming and funding Jihadist groups in Syria.
The abduction of Karaman who has been a lawful resident in Malaysia for 13 years, represents a new and highly controversial method employed by the Turkish government in snatching Turkish nationals from a foreign country in a blatant breach of well-established principles of the international law.
A SECOND CASE OF ABDUCTION OF A TURKISH NATIONAL IN MALAYSIA
Meanwhile, a Turkish businessman named İhsan Arslan was also reportedly kidnapped by unknown people who are believed to be operatives on behalf of Turkish government.
Arslan, 39 years old businessman, was reported missing by his wife (the name was withheld by Stockholm Center for Freedom for security concerns) who reported to the police that she has been unable to reach to her husband since 8 pm on May 1st. Arslan, married to Malaysian national, is a member of Malaysian Turkish Chamber Of Commerce And Industry, a business advocacy group that is affiliated with Gülen movement.
His kidnapping followed an earlier report of another Turkish national, Turgay Karaman, who was whisked away by five unidentified people in Kuala Lumpur in a parking lot of a high-rise building where he came to attend to a meeting.
Mrs. Arslan said when police checked the husband’s phone signal, it was traced to Malaysian Ministry of Defense.
Malaysian National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar tweeted that Turgay Karaman and İhsan Aslan were arrested “because they threatened the security of Malaysia.”
No further details were provided by authorities and the Turkish embassy refused to comment. Local media reports had been circulating allegations that both men had been abducted.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said the national police chief should grant the two men immediate access to their lawyers and families and give details of how they posed a threat to Malaysia.
Two other people, identified by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) as Alaettin Duman (45), one of founders of Time International School, and Tamer Tıbık (43), the General Secretary of the Malaysian Turkish Chamber Of Commerce And Industry, — also Turkish nationals and believed to be affiliated with the movement — were kidnapped in Malaysian soil before.
Turkish nationals Duman and Tıbık were taken to remote wooded areas, subjected to torture and abuse, and later turned over to Turkish officials to be taken back to Turkey. Both are currently locked up in Ankara’s Sincan prison on trumped-up charges of terror. The UN and other intergovernmental organizations as well as credible NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty International all reported widespread torture and abuse cases in Turkish prisons and detention centers. There have been other attempted cases of kidnapping in Malaysia as well according to reports received by SCF.
Turkey’s use of its security and intelligence agencies to conduct abductions and arrests in foreign jurisdictions may also be considered as a crime against humanity under the UN system as in the case of North Korea that used abductions in a larger scale for decades. Turkish government officials have never disavowed this practice of international abductions and rather they proudly mentioned these cases as victories for the government and these remarks were widely reported in pro-government media. Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu even bragged about some of these cases in one of his past speeches, and revealed that their abductions were made with personal pledge given to Erdoğan by the Malaysian Prime Minister.
SCF calls for a through investigation into these unlawful enforced disappearance of Turkish nationals, apparently through clandestine operations with the knowledge and the involvement of Turkish authorities, in Malaysia. Such acts run contrary to legal principles such as non-interference and arbitrary arrest and detention, violating not only Turkish laws but the host nation’s laws in the process as well. Even if the rights violation took place in Malaysia, Turkey may be liable for the ill-treatment of kidnapped Turkish nationals that were prohibited by the Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Abductees are subjected to deprivation of their liberties when they were repatriated to Turkey and went through torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. This practice may also give rise to allegations on the act of terror against the international community.
President Erdoğan has persistently voiced threats to those who have been forced to leave the country due to persecution and a witch-hunt, vowing that he will hunt them down and kill them in a public rallies that were broadcasted live and that were attended by tens of thousands of his die-hard fans. The abductions of Turkish citizens from Malaysia came against the background of Turkish president Erdoğan’s remarks which said on September 2016 that no country or region around the world will ever be a safe haven for members of Gülen movement.
Speaking at a rally in Turkey’s Black Sea province of Zonguldak on April 4, 2017, Erdoğan said: “We are purging every Gülenist in the army, in the police and in state institutions. And we will continue cleansing [these organizations of] them because we will eradicate this cancer from the body of this country and the state. They will not enjoy the right to life… Our fight against them will continue until the end. We won’t leave them wounded.
The government started referring to the peaceful civic group Hizmet as a terrorist organization (namely, the Gülenist Terror Group, or FETÖ), following the expose on major corruption investigations in December 2013 that implicated Erdoğan and his family members in billions of dollars of bribes and kickbacks.
Erdoğan started targeting Gülen and his movement openly after the corruption was exposed, and even accused Hizmet of being behind the failed coup of July 15 that he himself called as gift from the God. Gülen, however, rejected the accusations and has called for an independent international commission to be set up to investigate the coup attempt. The Turkish government has failed to present any direct evidence linking the cleric or the movement to the abortive coup.
On March 24, the Wall Street Journal exposed how Turkish government officials discussed about the illegal removal from the United States of Fethullah Gülen and his extrajudicial return to Turkey. While serving as an advisor to the Trump presidential campaign, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, also the ousted National Security Advisor of the new administration.
Details of the discussion in New York were learned from James Woolsey, former director of the CIA, who was in attendance, and from others who were briefed on the meeting in September 2016. Also in attendance at the meeting were Berat Albayrak, energy minister of Turkey and President Erdoğan’s son-in-law, and Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu, according to foreign lobbying disclosure documents filed by Flynn with the Justice Department in March 2017.
Woolsey arrived at the meeting on Sept. 19 in the middle of discussions about the cleric and found the topic “startling and the actions being discussed possibly illegal,” he told the WSJ, adding that the idea was “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.” Woolsey said specific tactics for removing Gülen were not discussed, but if they had been, he “would have spoken up and questioned their legality.”
Erdoğan’s propagandists openly entertain abduction, kidnapping and even assassination of members of Gülen movement abroad in pro-government media without any repercussions and criminal liability. For example, after Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov was brazenly assassinated in Ankara on Dec. 19, 2016, staunchly pro-Erdoğan journalist Cem Küçük said Turkey’s agenda is now to kill “FETÖ” militants abroad.
Talking about Hizmet-affiliated people who were forced to flee abroad, Ersoy Dede, another spin doctor, referred to the 1980s when Turkey’s “deep state” assassinated ASALA [Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia] militants abroad. “I saw how this company finished off ASALA. I saw how [PKK leader Abdullah] Öcalan was kicked to the curb,” he said. He made these remarks during a live broadcast with another pro-AKP journalist, Hikmet Genç, on Kanal 24 on Aug. 10, 2016.
In the program they talk about the advice Tuncay Opçin, a journalist in the US, gave on Twitter for sympathizers of the Hizmet movement who sought to go abroad. Dede said: “One day, we will wake up to meet the scoundrels who were caught with false passports in the International Arrivals Terminal of Sabiha Gökçen Airport in Istanbul as they tried to enter into Turkey. The news bulletins will report it as: ‘Tuncay Opçin, Ekrem Dumanlı, etc., were caught as they tried to enter the country with false passports in order to say goodbye to their families.’ This will be Opçin and Dumanlı’s reaction: ‘Where are we now? What is this place? How come we ended up here?’ … Can you get what I am trying to say?”,
Then, his program partner, Hikmet Genç, said: “If you explain this by citing ASALA, I will listen to it from a different perspective…”Later, Ersoy Dede said, threateningly: “This Gülenist organization… how we finished off ASALA, how this state of the Turkish Republic finished off ASALA all around the world. That is, they should not have a sound sleep. Tuncay should not sleep safe and sound in his bed tonight.” Hikmet Genç added: “Emre Uslu should not sleep soundly. This is my call to them. Tuncay Opçin should not sleep safe and sound. Ekrem Dumanlı should not think that he has fled and gotten away.” (Ekrem Dumanli and Emre Uslu are Turkish journalists in exile.)
A a total of 113,260 people have been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement in the last eight months alone, while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention. Over 135,000 government employees including judges, prosecutors, teachers, doctors, lawyers were purged by Turkish government without by decrees that are not subject to any effective judicial and administrative probes.
May 2, 2017