HRF expresses concern over educator missing in Kyrgyzstan

The Human Rights Foundation has expressed concern over the “alleged kidnapping” of educator Orhan İnandı in Kyrgyzstan by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

The HRF also called on Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarovo to demand İnandı’s release and to “prevent his potential deportation under international law’s non-refoulement principle.”

İnandı, the founder and president of the Turkish-Kyrgyz Sapat school network operating in Kyrgyzstan, went missing in Bishkek on Monday evening and is feared to have been abducted by Turkish spies due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

“We must put a stop to Erdogan’s illegal attempts to disappear people across borders,” the HRF said.

The Sapat (formerly Sebat) network of educational institutions has been operating in Kyrgyzstan since 1992. The school network has been run by the Kyrgyz Republic since 2017. İnandı had been working in Kyrgyzstan since 1995 and had been president of the schools since 2001. He has been a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic since 2010. The Kyrgyz government had earlier denied the Turkish government’s request for İnandı’s extradition on terrorism charges.

İnandı’s wife, Reyhan, who spoke at a news conference on Thursday, said: “It’s a race against time [to find him]. We know nothing about what happened to him, how he is and where he is. I am concerned about him being tortured.”

Kyrgyz President Japarovo on Tuesday ordered the State Committee for National Security and the Ministry of Internal Affairs to conduct an extensive search to locate İnandı.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, 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. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Turkish intelligence has intensified its efforts to target dissidents abroad. Most recently a nephew living in Kenya of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen was abducted by Turkish spies and brought back to Turkey at the weekend, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

In a joint letter UN rapporteurs accused the Turkish government of engaging in the systematic practice of state-sponsored extraterritorial abductions and forcible returns to Turkey, with at least 100 Turkish nationals from multiple states including Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Gabon, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and Pakistan removed to Turkey.

In a number of cases the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) concluded that the arrest, detention and forced transfer to Turkey of Turkish nationals were arbitrary and in violation of international human rights norms and standards.

A recent report by Freedom House on global transnational repression also revealed the intensity, geographic reach and suddenness of the Turkish government’s campaign targeting dissidents abroad, noting that Turkey has become number one among countries that have conducted renditions from host states since 2014.

According to the report, Ankara’s campaign has primarily targeted people affiliated with the Gülen movement, but the government has started applying the same tactics to Kurdish and leftist individuals living abroad.

The Freedom House report also indicated that the Turkish government has pursued its perceived enemies in at least 30 host countries spread across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia since the coup attempt.

According to recent official statements by its interior ministry, Turkey has sent 800 extradition requests to 105 countries since the attempt, and more than 110 alleged members of the movement have been brought back to Turkey as part of the government’s global campaign.

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