NBA star Kanter calls on int’l community to stop Turkey’s campaign of persecution and kidnapping

The international community must stop the Turkish government’s “persecution and kidnapping campaign” targeting dissidents abroad, NBA star and human rights activist Enes Kanter said in an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Tuesday.

“[Orhan] Inandi’s plight is similar to more than 100 Turkish citizens who were kidnapped and brought back to Turkey to face certain arrest and possible torture,” said Kanter, adding that “This Jamal Khashoggi-style detention is part of Turkey’s global campaign to locate, kidnap and bring back Turkish dissidents.”

Orhan İnandı, the founder and president of the Turkish-Kyrgyz Sapat school network operating in Kyrgyzstan, went missing in Bishkek on the evening of May 31 and is feared to have been abducted by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.

İnandı’s wife, Reyhan, said in a June 6 statement that an undisclosed source told her that her husband was being held against his will at the Turkish Embassy, and she claimed he was being tortured to renounce his Kyrgyz citizenship. This would simplify İnandı’s forcible transfer to Turkey, she said.

Kanter said Turkey’s illegal actions in other countries only encourages other dictators to follow suit if they are ignored and called on the United States to “take the lead and marshal international support against such renditions.”

“At around 2:30 a.m., I woke up to the loud bangs on my hotel room door in Indonesia, where I went to hold a basketball camp for schoolchildren back in 2017. ‘We have to leave the country immediately,’ my manager told me frantically,” Kanter wrote. “It appeared that Turkish intelligence agents were on their way to capture me and send me back to Turkey. Three hours later, we were on an emergency flight to Singapore, and then to Romania. Turkey missed its chance to arrest me but canceled my passport and forced me to remain stranded in Romania.”

He also pointed out the abduction of a teacher, Selahaddin Gülen, in May by Turkish government operatives in Kenya, saying “Last month, Turkey said its intelligence agents captured Gulen’s nephew, a schoolteacher in Kenya, and brought him back to Turkey.”

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.

The Freedom House report 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 a 2016 coup attempt.

According to 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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