Kosovo President Thaçi slams detention of 6 Turkish citizens over links to Gülen movement

Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaçi has reacted to the arrest on Thursday of six Turkish citizens and said, “Today we are disappointed because our relevant institutions, for reasons that remain to be clarified to the end, have failed to defend these principles related to the human rights of foreign citizens who live and work in our country.”

According to a report by Pristina Insight, the Kosovo police detained three Turkish teachers in Gjakova and two Turkish teachers in Prizren. According to information obtained by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) from Kosovo, Yusuf Karabina, the vice director of the Gülistan Educational Institutions, his wife Yasemin Karabina and 15-year-old son were stopped by Kosovo police at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. The Karabina family reportedly resisted the plainclothes police officers since they thought they could be agents of the notorious Turkish National Intelligence Organisation (MİT). As a result the three members of the Karabina family were reportedly beaten by police during their detention.

At the same time Yusuf Karabina was being taken to the police station, Kahraman Demirez, the principal of Mehmet Akif College in Gjakova, and teachers Cihan Özkan and Hasan Hüseyin Günakan were also detained by Kosovo police. Mustafa Erdem, the general director of the Gülistan Educational Institutions, was taken into custody when he visited the police station to get information about the situation of the detained Turkish teachers.

“I am informed by the competent authorities after the event that six citizens were deported today to Turkey on the grounds that they did not have a residence permit in Kosovo. We now need to explain the reasons that have led to the deportation of these Turkish citizens to Turkey,” said President Thaçi.

The full text of the press statement of the President Thaçi is as follows:

“Kosovo is a democratic state built in accordance with the highest democratic standards, which above all respect the individual rights of every person regardless of ethnicity, belief or political or ideological convictions.

This principle, embodied in our Constitution and our laws, remains inalienable by anyone and it is the duty of our state institutions to apply it in practice.

Today we are disappointed because our relevant institutions, for reasons that remain to be clarified to the end, have failed to defend these principles related to the human rights of foreign nationals who live and work in our country.

I am informed by the competent authorities after the event that six citizens were deported today to Turkey on the grounds that they did not have a residence permit in Kosovo.”

Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, in a Facebook post, also criticized the arrest and deportation of the Gülen movement-linked Turkish citizens. “Today, in a joint operation carried out by the Kosovo Intelligence Agency (AKI) and Kosovo Police, 6 Turkish nationals were arrested and deported. There are elements making this operation unclear, including the urgency to deport them,” Haradinaj wrote.

He said that he, the prime minister of Kosovo, was not informed by the relevant institutions of their arrest or deportation and that he would take measures in accordance with the constitutional and legal responsibilities related to the case.

Also, Speaker of Parliament Kadri Veseli opposed the action, stating that those responsible for the deportation of Turkish residents who were living in Kosovo with valid permits issued by Kosovo authorities should be held responsible.

The Kosovo Ministry of Internal Affairs in a statement issued on Thursday said their residence permits had been revoked, without providing any reason why. Turkish media reported that the Kosovo Intelligence Agency (AKI) in cooperation with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) had carried out the operation “successfully.”

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