EU reacts to scandal of Turks’ abduction in Kosovo: Arrests were arbitrary, against EU principles

The European Union has reacted to the abduction last Thursday of six Turkish nationals by the Turkish government in Kosovo over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, calling the arrest of the Turkish men arbitrary and in violation of EU principles, in answer to the Gazeta Express.

On Thursday morning the Turkish government abducted six Turkish nationals — educators Cihan Özkan, Kahraman Demirez, Hasan Hüseyin Günakan, Mustafa Erdem and Yusuf Karabina — working for a group of schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in Kosovo, along with Dr. Osman Karakaya. They were reportedly removed to Turkey the same day.

“The arrest and subsequent deportation of six Turkish nationals legally residing in Kosovo raise questions about the respect of the due process of law,” said Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for the European Commission.

“The rule of law is a fundamental principal of the European Union. In line with its determination to build a free and democratic future, and as also set out in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union, all actions of the local Kosovo institutions are bound by the full respect for the rule of law and promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Arbitrary procedures concerning arrest, detention or exile go against these principles,” Kocijancic said in a written statement to Gazeta Express.

“As for Turkey, while we understand the need to bring the culprits of the coup attempt of July 15 to justice, any alleged wrongdoing or crime should be subject to due process and well established international norms when seeking extradition. The right of every individual to fair trial needs to be fully respected. As a European Union candidate country and a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey has subscribed to these principles,” Kocijancic said.

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 autocratic President Recep Tayyip 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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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