Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu has submitted a parliamentary question to the Parliament Speaker’s Office in which he asked about the whereabouts of the seven people who mysteriously disappeared after they were purged from their posts as part of an ongoing witch-hunt against the followers of the faith-based Gülen movement.
In the parliamentary question meant for Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Tanrıkulu said one person was abducted before a failed coup attempt on July 15 in Ankara while six others were abducted in the same province in the aftermath of the failed putsch in similar methods. The CHP deputy all the abducted individuals were purged from their posts through government decrees due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.
Giving information about each abducted individual, Sunay Elmas, Mustafa Özgür Gültekin, Hüseyin Kötüce, Turgut Çapan, Mesut Geçer, Önder Asan and Ayhan Oran, Tanrıkulu asked why an effective investigation is not being conducted to find these people and who abducted them. Tanrıkulu also said there is widespread suspicion about the abduction of these people by the Turkish security forces.
Meanwhile, following the application of an association called Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST), the Secretariat of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) under The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) moved to demand information from Turkish government “under the Urgent Action procedure” over the abduction of Turgut Çapan.
WGEID Secretariat stated that “the case was reviewed by the Working Group and has been transmitted to the government of Turkey under the Urgent Action procedure.”
The WGEID does not conduct investigations on abduction cases, however the group acts as a channel of communication between the victims and the concerned government until the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared person are known. WGEID underlined that they will inform the applicants and the other sources of the case, if and when it receives a reply from Turkish government.
Mysterious disappearances involving already-victimized opposition groups have become a common occurrence in Turkey in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt with at least 7 cases of alleged abduction have been reported so far, according to a news article by turkeypurge.com.
Those not seen for quite some time all have in common in their personal histories that they have lost their jobs amid a sweeping crackdown that the Turkish government kicked off against its critics, particularly the members of the Gülen movement, after the coup bid, according to Aktif Haber news portal.
CCTV footages and passersby witnessing the alleged abductions show that at least two of them (not together) were forced into cars by unknown group of people. Meanwhile, family members claim that police are not willing to cooperate in most cases.
Those reported to have been abducted include two teachers, a university personnel, two intelligence agency officials, an Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) employee and a Competition Authority employee.
TEACHER CENGİZ USTA NOT SEEN FOR 17 DAYS
Cengiz Usta, a 44-year-old teacher in İzmir province who was dismissed from his post with a state-of-emergency decree has been missing since April 4, joining two education professionals who are claimed to have been abducted in the same week.
Usta was a teacher at Cumhuriyet Primary School in İzmir’s Torbalı district until he was dismissed by a government decree on Sept.1, 2016.
“My brother left his daughter at home and went out to pay elevator maintenance fee. He has not come back home yet. A witness claims that my brother was forced into a car by two men on Abdulkadir Street. This was recorded in police records as well,” the teacher’s elder brother Selim Usta told local media.
TEACHER ÖNDER ASAN NOT SEEN FOR 20 DAYS
The 41-year-old philosophy teacher, Önder Asan mysteriously disappeared in Ankara’s Şentepe neighborhood, on April 1, according to information given by his wife Fatma Asan.
Aktifhaber online news portal said that Önder used to work as a philosophy teacher at a secondary school, which the government shuttered over its alleged links to the Gülen movement after July 15 coup attempt.
Fatma Asan later said she has found his husband’s car parked near Şentepe with its tires blown-out. Fatma Asan also said police and the prosecutor in charge are so reluctant to investigate the case that not even a single CCTV camera in Şentepe was taken under examination for would-be recordings of his husbands.
UNIVERSITY PERSONNEL TURGUT ÇAPAN NOT SEEN FOR 21 DAYS
Turgut Çapan, a former employee of Turgut Özal University, which was shut down by the government decree under emergency rule over its alleged ties to the Gülen movement, was abducted on March 31, according to information given by his wife Ülkü Çapan who launched a Twitter account to speak up.
Ülkü Çapan also released a video clip in which she explained the story in detail. She said a friend of her husband dropped by her home on April 1 to say that Turgut Çapan had been abducted.
Turgut Çapan was the head of the Culture, Sport and Art Affairs Department at the Turgut Özal University until it was closed down by the government, according to Mahmut Özpınar, a former academic at the now-closed Turgut Özal University.
MİT PERSONNEL MESUT GEÇER NOT SEEN FOR 50 DAYS
Mesut Geçer worked at the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) until he was dismissed as part of the government’s post-coup crackdown. His car was stopped and he was reportedly abducted in Çakırlar quarter in Ankara’s Yenimahalle district, in late March this year.
According to Aktifhaber, his family members have been having difficulty even in submitting petitions to ask about Geçer’s whereabouts as offıcials often refuse to cooperate with them.
BTK PERSONNEL HÜSEYİN KÖTÜCE NOT SEEN FOR 81 DAYS
Hüseyin Kötüce, a BTK employee, was reportedly abducted at the parking lot of Batıkent subway station in Ankara after he got out of work in February. Family members found his coat and a cake he had bought in Kötüce’s car, parked in the parking lot.
Despite successive request, family members have so far failed to get police carry out fingerprint examination on the car while no CCTV footage was released.
PUBLIC OFFICIAL MUSTAFA ÖZGÜR GÜLTEKİN NOT SEEN FOR 120 DAYS
Mustafa Özgür Gültekin, a Competition Authority personnel, was followed by at least four cars to a convenience store in Ankara’s Beştepe neighborhood at 18.15 pm on Dec.21, 2016.
Immediately after Gültekin got out of the store, he was surrounded by a group of men who later forced him into a Volkswagen Transporter van with tinted windows.
Family members have so far managed to obtain nearby CCTV footages in which Gültekin was seen while being forced into the car.
MİT PERSONNEL AYHAN ORAN NOT SEEN FOR 171 DAYS
Started working at MİT in 2005, Oran was dismissed over his alleged ties to the Gülen movement on Aug. 2, 2016. He was last seen leaving the compound he was living in at 12.38 pm on Nov. 1, 2016. The signal on his cellphone was active only before 16.00 pm on the same day. While he stocked no money into his pocket, he did not even bid farewell to his wife before he went out, Sözcü columnist Saygı Öztürk said. Oran worked in Turkey’s Şırnak and Diyarbakır provinces as well as in Greece.
Meanwhile, a left-wing Turkish newspaper, Evrensel, reported on Jan.10 2017 that Zeynep Tunçel, a reader and distributor, was abducted and beaten by a group of unidentified people who accused her of resisting the government.
Also, an Ankara man named Sunay Elmas is too reported to have been abducted, but this particular case took place on Jan 27, 2016. Aktifhaber said Elmas had also been forced into a Volkswagen Transporter van with tinted windows. His family has not heard from Elmas for an many as 451 days.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.
Erdoğan’a Islamist government has also labeled the Gülen movement as “FETÖ” which is a derogatory term and acronym for the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization.” However, Gülen movement has been inspired by the US-based Turkish Muslim intellectual Fethullah Gülen who has been advocating science education, interfaith and intercultural dialogue and community contribution. The movement promotes a moderate version of Islam with a heavy emphasis on public service. The movement runs schools and universities in 180 countries.
Gülen has been a vocal critic of Turkish government and Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan on massive corruption in the government as well as Turkey’s aiding and abetting of radical groups in Syria. Erdoğan launched an unprecedented persecution against Gülen and his followers in December 2013 right after major corruption probe that incriminated Erdoğan’s family members. Gülen, 75-year old cleric, and his followers have never advocated violence but rather remained staunchly opposed to any violence, radicalism and terror in the name of religion.
According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, a total of 113,260 people have been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt, while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention. (SCF with turkishminute.com) April 25, 2017