Turkish teacher Mesut Kaçmaz and his family, who were abducted from their home at a midnight in Lahore, are still illegally detained in an unknown place in the city despite a habeas corpus decision by the Lahore High Court to locate and release them. Pakistani authorities have still opted for silence on the 6th day after the abduction of the Kaçmaz family.
The four members of the Kaçmaz Family, who have been under the protection of the UNHCR were abducted on September 27 at around 2:30 a.m. by 15 armed and plain-clothed people, assumed to be Pakistani law enforcement or intelligence agents. The perpetrators blindfolded and hooded Mr. and Mrs. Kaçmaz along with their two teenaged daughters. The first unofficial remarks focused on the impending deportation of the family to Turkey, where they will surely be persecuted by a biased judiciary.
However, the Lahore High Court stopped deportation in the morning of September 28 and warned that no action should be taken until a decision to be given by a court on October 6. It should also be noted that the abduction of the family had taken place by disregarding an earlier Lahore High Court decision preventing harassment of Turkish asylum-seeking teachers and their families across Pakistan.
It has been six days since the Kaçmaz family’s abduction and illegal and arbitrary detention in an unknown place. Since the place of detention has been kept secret by the Pakistani authorities, Kaçmaz family has not been seen by anyone including their lawyers. Pakistani government has not make any explanation so far, either. Mesut Kaçmaz’s colleagues assume that the Kaçmaz family will be kept in this manner until October 6, the date of hearing at the Lahore High Court.
Mesut Kaçmaz, who graduated from the Department of Urdu Language and Literature in Konya’s Selçuk University in Turkey, has been involved educational and cultural activities in Pakistan since 2007. Mesut Kaçmaz, married to Meral Kaçmaz who is a teacher like himself, is the father of two daughters.
Mesut Kaçmaz worked as the principal of the PakTurk Clifton Boys School. The school has so far passed out hundreds of graduates and represented the country successfully by receiving medals at international science olympiads. Back in 2008, the New York Times covered the constructive role of the PakTurk schools and their achievements by quoting Mr. Kaçmaz.
The witch hunt launched in 2013 in Turkey targeting the alleged followers of the Hizmet 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 and corrupt President Recep Tayyip Erdogan 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 Huda Nur (17) and Fatma Huma (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.