Amnesty starts campaign calling on Turkish authorities to investigate enforced disappearance of purged civil servant Küçüközyiğit

Amnesty International issued an urgent call for action on Monday for the investigation of the suspected enforced disappearance of Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit, a former civil servant who has been missing since December 29.

In a sample letter provided for use by the public, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office is asked to “ensure a prompt, impartial and independent investigation … to determine the whereabouts of Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit and the circumstances of his suspected enforced disappearance.”

Küçüközyiğit’s daughter Nursena had posted a video on Twitter on January 3 announcing that her father went missing on December 29. He was supposed to join his daughters for New Year’s Eve. She said they did not hear from him and contacted the police, who did not help them or respond to their questions.

A prosecutor was finally appointed to the case 18 days after Küçüközyiğit went missing. Yet, according to his daughter, the prosecutor decided that there was no need to pursue legal action in the case.

“It has been 36 days,” Nursena said in a tweet. “When I went to meet with the prosecutor in Kocaeli yesterday, I learned that he had decided there was no need for an investigation.”

Galip Küçüközyiğit was a successful lawyer who served as the chief legal counsel for the Turks Abroad and Related Communities Agency (YTB). He was fired from his job by a government decree in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 2016. He was later sentenced to six years, three months in prison for “membership in the movement” due to his alleged ties to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen. Küçüközyiğit was released from pretrial detention pending appeal.

According to Turkish Minute, Küçüközyiğit’s family also filed a petition with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office requesting that Küçüközyiğit’s disappearance or abduction be investigated.

Nursena said she fears the investigation in Ankara into her father’s disappearance will also be dropped.

“Any information relating to his location and wellbeing must urgently be shared with his family. I also urge you to ensure that all those suspected of criminal responsibility are brought to justice in fair trials,” said the sample letter posted by Amnesty, which asked people to write an appeal letter in their own words or to use the sample letter to help find the missing bureaucrat.

Amnesty International also issued an info note on the case that provided further information about enforced disappearance cases in Turkey. “… in 2019, at least six men, Salim Zeybek, Yasin Ugan, Özgür Kaya, Erkan Irmak, Mustafa Yılmaz and Gökhan Türkmen were suspected of having been forcibly disappeared,” the note said. “Months after their disappearance, these men appeared in the Anti-Terrorism Branch of Ankara Police Headquarters. Some of them described the circumstances of their enforced disappearance in court during their subsequent trials. In February 2020, Gökhan Türkmen recounted that he had been ill-treated, tortured and threatened for 271 days, held in a closed space in permanent artificial light, made to stand up for excessive periods and given very little food.”

Zeybek, Ugan, Kaya, Irmak, Yılmaz and Türkmen were all former civil servants dismissed from their jobs by government decrees due to alleged links to the Gülen movement. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

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