Afghanistan’s intelligence agency releases four abducted teachers of Turkish schools, report

Afghanistan’s intelligence agency has released Turkish teachers Önder Akkuşci, Yunus Demirci, Yılmaz Aytan and an Afghan based teacher Masso0d Wardak who are working for Turkish schools in the country, according to a report by Afghanistan’s 1TV on Sunday.

The vehicle of Turkish teachers Akkuşci, Demirci, Aytan and Wardak, who came out of their homes to go to the school on Tuesday morning, were stopped on the street. The teachers, who were surrounded by the NDS in Taimani area of Kabul where one of the Afghan-Turk schools is based in, were detained and taken to a building belonging to the NDS.

A source in the National Directorate of Security told 1TV Sunday that the teachers were released.

The move against Afghan Turk Çağ Educational NGO (ATCE), the organization that runs the schools, appeared to be part of a witch-hunt being waged on followers of US-based Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen.

The ATCE, which says it is an independent organization, runs schools in several cities including the capital, Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar and Herat and has been in Afghanistan since 1995. Few months ago, Afghan officials confirmed that the government has ordered Afghan Turk schools to be transferred to the Maarif Foundation, which was established by Turkish government under the strict rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

It was also reported that Yılmaz Aytan and Massood Wardak were members of the Board of Directors in the Afghan-Turkish Çağ Educational NGO (ATCE) owning all the Turkish Schools. At the same time, the vehicle of Turkish businessman Sami Yavuz, who came out of his home to go to his restaurant in Kabul, was also stopped and surrounded by NDS officials. Yavuz was detained and taken to the same place as the other four educators.

The ATCE officials, who had been informed 2 hours after the abduction on Tuesday, called the Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry in order to get information. Ministry officials said that “The incident has no relations with us. The intelligence is the responsible for that.”

In the evening of the same day, the girls’ high school affiliated to the Çağ Schools in Kabul was raided by NDS. Intelligence officers, who wanted to detain the teacher Fatih Çakmakçı, asked to search the girl’s dormitory. This initiative caused harsh reaction of the students and parents. The Parents’ Committee showed a strict resistance with its 24 members.

According to the information received by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), it is accepted as an unforgivable attempt in Afghan culture to raid the school building where girls’ dorm also located in the same campus at midnight.

The parents who flocked to the school and did not deliver the teacher to the intelligence officers who came for detention, and took him under their protection. The NDS staff had to leave the building without making any detention. These moments were also broadcast by the Afghan media.

Meanwhile, the students’ parents said on Saturday that they will lodge complaint at the Attorney General’s Office against the National Directorate of Security (NDS) over detaining the teachers of Afghan-Turk schools. TOLOnews reporter Samim Faramarz has interviewed family members of one of the teachers of the school who was detained with his colleagues this week.

Yavuz came to Afghanistan with his family 14 years ago and opened a restaurant. The restaurant has provided jobs for at least 1,000 people. Yavuz’s wife, Zahra Yavuz, said they opened the restaurant to create jobs for Afghans.

“Our goal from opening the restaurant has been to provide jobs for Afghans. All the employees of the restaurant are our Afghan friends and they respect my husband. No one has been hurt by him. We trust in Afghan government that it will return him to us,” Zahra said.

Yavuz has four children. His youngest child was born in Afghanistan. His two sons are students at Kabul University. Yavuz and his two colleagues had submitted their asylum applications to the United Nations office in Kabul.

Afghan politicians  had also criticized the detention of the Afghan-Turk teachers and the raid on the school. “The Afghan government has not an independent foreign policy and has always been subordinated to pressure,” Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi, chairman of the New National Front of Afghanistan, said.

Presidential Palace had refused to comment on the fate of Yavuz and two other teachers. “If the security forces’ act has worried the students or their parents, we are sorry about it. The schools and their educational plans will normally continue in collaboration with the Ministry of Education,” President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Shahussain Murtazawi had said.

“Unfortunately, we do not have any information about their (the teachers’) location and no department wants to give us information in this respect and they do not have access to defense attorneys,” had said Fawad Haidari, deputy head of Afghan-Turk schools.

Reports had said that Ankara has asked Kabul to handover the individuals to the Turkish government. But the two countries have not signed extradition agreements.

It was said that if Afghan government handover these individuals to Turkish government, it will be a move which happens for the first time in the country and will be an unprecedented act. Even at the end of the Second World War, Afghanistan did not accept to handover Nazi Germany diplomats to the conquerors of the war.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, on December 13, 2017, The Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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