Lahore High Court asks Pakistani gov’t to ensure protection of Turkish citizens

Kaçmaz Family

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday ordered the authorities to ensure protection of Turk citizens living in Pakistan, reported by The News on Friday. The orders has reportedly come as Justice Shams Mehmood Mirza heard applications moved by Turkish teachers and citizens.

According to Geo News, the Interior Ministry submitted its response to LHC regarding disappearance of Turkish family that went missing 10 days ago and sought time for submitting a detailed report. The court ordered the authorities not to harass and forcibly deport Turkish citizens, and adjourned the hearing for two weeks.

The director of Rumi Forum and former principal of Pak-Turk School, Mesut Kaçmaz, was ‘kidnapped’ along with his wife and two daughters by unidentified people from his residence in Wapda Town Sattukatla police limits in wee hours of Wednesday.

The witch hunt launched in 2013 in Turkey targeting the alleged followers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a massive corruption and bribery scandal of Turkish government ministers and their family members on December 17-25, 2013 has even affected Pakistan. Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan put the pressure on the Pakistani government to close the educational and cultural institutions alleged to be affiliated with the movement and to deport the Turkish citizens working in these institutions.

In November 2016, the Pakistani government did not extend the visas of these teachers and their families and ordered them to leave the country within three days. Teachers moved courts and objected the decision. During this period, they also applied to the UNHCR and were issued asylum seeker certificates placing them under the UN protection.

According to his friends who told to the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), the family woke up at midnight with a loud noise in the night connecting September 26 and 27. 15 people were at the door of their house and were trying to break in. Mesut Kaçmaz’s daughters Hüda Nur (17) and Fatma Hüma (14) fell into a crying fit, saying “Are they here to take my father?”

Mesut Kaçmaz asked the group of their identity and organization, explaining to them that they had no right to enter his premises without any warrant. It was obvious that the group had come for all family members, because there were five women ‘officers’ to attend to the ladies of the family. Mrs. Meral Kaçmaz fainted and the group simply moved on to blindfold and hood her and her daughters Huda Nur and Fatma Huma. According to the witness statement, Mrs. Kaçmaz was dragged into the vehicle in an unconscious state.

Turkish teacher Fatih Avcu, who had witnessed the entire incident and been arrested shortly, announced the abduction incident to the whole world with a video recording on the same day. Later, an unofficial statement was circulated that the Kaçmaz family was relocated to another city and held in a secret place. However, there is no concrete information about their whereabouts for the last six days. It is rather surprising that Pakistani state officials are choosing silence in this regard.

In a similar incident in Malaysia, some Turkish educators and entrepreneurs were intimidated, abducted and illegally handed over to Turkey at the request of the Erdoğan’s autocratic regime.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Hizmet 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’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. Turkish government has also suspended or dismissed more than 150,000  judges, teachers, police and civil servants after the coup attempt.

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