Family under UN protection detained in Malaysia, faces deportation to Turkey

Arif Komiş, a Turkish teacher holding a UNHCR refugee card, and his family were detained on Wednesday in Malaysia, his friends reported on social media.

The Turkish nationals are reportedly being held in a detention center at the immigration office near Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia.

Komiş, his wife and four children were reportedly detained by Malaysian authorities at their apartment in Kuala Lumpur yesterday night. Their friends worry about deportation of the Komiş family to Turkey and called on international rights organizations to monitor the developments.

According to Turkish nationals who previously fled Malaysia to avoid forcible return to Turkey, chemistry teacher Arif Komiş, who worked at a Turkish school affiliated with the civic Gülen movement in Malaysia, was unable to leave the country since the Turkish Embassy refused to issue a passport to his newborn baby due to Komiş’s alleged terrorist links.

The Turkish government accuses the movement of masterminding a July 15, 2016 coup attempt, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

İsmet Özçelik, Turgay Karaman and İhsan Aslan were detained by Malaysian officials in Kuala Lumpur and deported to Turkey on May 11, 2017.

In 2017 Turgay Karaman, İhsan Aslan and İsmet Özçelik were deported by Malaysia to Turkey despite international warnings over the risk of torture. Officials from several Turkish institutions were actively involved in the forced return of the Malaysian-based Gülen followers.

Özçelik, a Turkish academic, in July was given a jail sentence of almost 10 years without even being able to present his final defense. Karaman, a school principal, was also sentenced to six years in prison the same month.

In May the UN Human Rights Committee called on Turkish authorities to release Özçelik and Karaman, saying the country had violated the two men’s freedoms.

In April a high criminal court in the Turkish capital of Ankara handed down a jail sentence of 18 years to Alaaddin Duman, a teacher who in 2016 had been deported from Malaysia to Turkey due to his links to the Gülen movement, on terror charges.

SCF previously documented numerous cases of harassment, abuse, torture, unlawful detention and rendition in Malaysia in a report, mostly from victim interviews, warning that the Malaysian government would be held accountable in the future for enabling the crimes against humanity committed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Since the failed coup three years ago, Turkish authorities have demanded the extradition of various people suspected of links to the Gülen network. While some countries, including Kosovo and Pakistan as well as Malaysia, have complied, many have refused.

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