Protests continue in Kyrgyzstan 25 days into disappearance of Orhan İnandı

Around 300 people gathered in front of government house in Bishkek on Friday calling on Kyrgyz authorities to find educator Orhan İnandı, who is feared to have been abducted by Turkish intelligence due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

According to the news agency, some 300 people, including students, alumni and parents of Sapat school network students attended the protests. İnandı is the founder and president of the Sapat schools. He went missing in Bishkek on the night of May 31 and is allegedly being held against his will in the Turkish Embassy in Bishkek, according to his lawyer and family.

The press service of the Kyrgyz Internal Affairs Ministry told that they would immediately inform the public as soon as they have information to share “without interfering with the work of the investigators.” The officials said they are investigating all possibilities.

Over the past five years scores of men alleged by Turkish authorities to have links to the Gülen movement, living in countries around the world, have been arbitrarily detained and forcibly returned to Turkey. There they are incarcerated on bogus terrorism charges in violation of due process rights and protections.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish 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 a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding.

In addition to Bishkek, since June 1 protests have been taking place in major capitals around the world including Washington, Berlin, London and Brussels in support of the Turkish educator, demanding his release. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has called on Turkey to promptly take all measures necessary to establish the whereabouts of İnandı and said the government should ensure that İnandı would not be subjected to torture and inhuman treatment, guarantee his physical and mental integrity and immediately place him under the protection of the law.

On Thursday US Congressman Tom Suozzi, a Democrat from New York, raised the issue on Twitter and said the disappearance of İnandı “is gravely disturbing and represents a troubling pattern of forced disappearances employed by the Turkish government.”

Taalaygül Toktakunova, the attorney for the İnandı family, on Tuesday posted pictures of a person suspected of involvement in the educator’s alleged abduction along with photos of Ekberov Ulan, a former official from the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry, publicly asking Ulan to confirm whether he was in fact the suspect in the photo.

Noting that Ulan’s whereabouts are unknown and that he is said to have left Kyrgyzstan, Toktakunova called on the former official to contact the İnandı family and remove their doubts regarding his suspected role in the educator’s disappearance.

Rights organizations have also asked Kyrgyz authorities to exert efforts for the release of İnandı. Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Kyrgyz authorities to investigate the disappearance of İnandı and “ensure his safety and that he is not unlawfully removed to Turkey.” According to HRW, allowing İnandı’s rendition to Turkey would violate Kyrgyzstan’s obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which it ratified in 1997.

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