Aseem Trivedi, a political cartoonist and free speech activist, has called people all around the world to raise their voices for the disappeared people of Turkey on the occasion of “the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances’ on August 30.
As a contribution to awareness building about those abducted or disapperead in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, he has drawn cartoons of 13 people who were disappeared in Turkey under the rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
As he has presented his cartoons of disappeared 13 people in Turkey on his website Trivedi has stated that “In the aftermath of the coup attempt last year, at least thirteen people have been abducted allegedly by elements linked to the Turkish government as part of an intimidation campaign targeting critics and opponents of Turkey’s president.”
Mysterious disappearances involving already-victimized opposition groups have become a common occurrence in Turkey since last summer. In blatant violation of national laws and an open defiance to its commitments under the international human rights laws, Turkish government under the oppressive regime of Erdogan has started again resorting to enforced disappearances and some unlawful abductions, a practice that is reminiscent of dark periods pf 1990s.
The abductions appear to have been perpetrated by elements linked to the Turkish government as part of an intimidation campaign targeting critics and opponents of Turkey’s president. Most victims in recent waves of kidnappings are believed to be affiliated with the Gülen movement which is inspired by the US-based Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen who has been a vocal critic of Erdoğan on corruption and Turkish government’s aiding and abetting of Jihadist groups.
In many cases, the evidence such as CCTV footages by suggest a similar pattern by which a black Transporter Volkswagen was used in whisking away innocent people. The government has never made any statement to these reports despite it was raised in the Parliament by an opposition lawmaker. Families of victims complain that prosecutors and police show indifference to their complaints and they claim that authorities are unwilling to investigate cases.
Erdoğan’s Islamist government has labeled the Gülen movement as “FETÖ,” a derogatory term and acronym for the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization.” The movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Muslim intellectual Fethullah Gülen, rejects Turkish government’s accusations as politically motivated. Gülen has been decades-long advocate of science education, interfaith and intercultural dialogue and community contribution. The movement he inspired is active in 180 countries with schools, dialogue centers and cultural institutions.
Triverdi has previously published 15 cartoons in the “Black & White – Online Cartoon Magazine for Human Rights” to attract attention to the oppressive Erdoğan regime’s massive violations of human rights in Turkey and show solidarity with the persecuted women and babies under the cruel rule of autocratic President Erdoğan.
The movement faces an unprecedented persecution in Turkey where the rule of law has effectively ended with Erdoğan fully controlling all levers of the powers including the judiciary without any checks and balances.
Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah 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 Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.