Teacher, family held at Myanmar airport after Turkey canceled passports over alleged Gülen links

M. Furkan Sökmen

A Myanmar-based Turkish teacher, who reportedly works in a school with links to faith-based Gülen movement, are being forced out of the country to Dubai and eventually to back home to Turkey along with his family.

According to a video shared by teacher M. Furkan Sökmen in social media on Wednesday, he, along with his wife Ayşe Sökmen and daughter Sibel Sökmen was held in an airport in Myanmar and their passports were canceled by security officials upon request by the Turkish government.

M. Furkan Sökmen

In the video which was recorded during a brawl with officials, M. Furkan Sökmen is heard saying that “Turkish ambassador has put pressure on Myanmar police to confiscate my passport.”

“Please help me,” Sökmen says resisting officials who allegedly tried to block him from recording the video.

According to True Stories Twitter account, the family was intervened before their 17.30 pm flight from the city of Yangoon to Thailand’s Bangkook.

“After Turkish embassy staff came to the airport, Burmese police deported family to Dubai with EK 389 No. Flight,” the social media account said adding that the family will be in Dubai at 05.00 am. “Then they will be sent to Turkey.”

True Stories account later wrote that Sökmen and his family is being kept in Turkish embassy in Myanmar after they didn’t accept boarding on the plane.

Ye Htun Oo, an Myanmar Immigration Ministry director, said on Thursday that Sökmen, his wife and their daughter were detained at Yangon International Airport on Wednesday evening as they waited to leave for Thailand. He said the family would be deported after their passports were cancelled by the Turkish government. “It’s in accordance with our laws to detain and deport those who have an invalid passport,” he said.

It was reported that the detention comes after the Turkish embassy in Yangon requested the arrest of a list of individuals whose passports had been cancelled by Turkish government under the rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Recently over the weekend, NBA Oklahoma City Thunder player Enes Kanter, who was briefly detained on Saturday at an airport in Romania upon a request from the Turkish government, told CBS news on Monday that he went to Romania after fleeing Indonesia when he found out he was being pursued by local intelligence.

“I was sleeping around 2:30 or something and my manager knocked on my door. He said the Secret Service and the Indonesian army were looking for me because the Turkish government told them I was a dangerous man,” Kanter said.

The Turkish government has been trying to confiscate more than 50,000 passports including those held by relatives of journalists living in exile due to their links with Gülen movement, inspired by the views of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who the Turkish government says was behind a failed coup in Turkey on July 15. (turkishminute.com & turkeypurge.com) May 25, 2017

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