Turkish educator Akçay in Mongolia applies to UN for urgent action against imminent abduction risk

Turkish educator Veysel Akçay, the general director of schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in Mongolia, who was abducted by the agents of Turkey’s notorious National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) on July 27, 2018, in front of his house in Ulan Bator, has called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) for urgent action against imminent abduction risk.

Writing a letter to UNCHR, Akçay’s lawyers requested on August 24, 2018, an urgent action to prevent his imminent illegal deportation to Turkey. The lawyers stated that the decisive actions by the UNHCR and the government of Mongolia on July 27, 2018, enabled timely release and prevented illegal transfer to Turkey of Mr. Veysel Akçay.

“We are, however, deeply concerned that initial encouraging steps by the government of Mongolia have been subsequently followed by actions, which have clearly exposed Mr. Akçay to the imminent risk of illegal transfer to Turkey. Namely, during this past week, Mr. Akçay was twice prevented from leaving Mongolia for safer third countries,” read the letter.

The lawyers added in their letter that “In addition, the authorities have also allegedly closed the investigation against the perpetrators of Mr. Akçay’s abduction on July 27, 2018. These actions are, inter alia, contrary to Mr. Akçay’s right to leave the country, including his country of residence, a right firmly embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the relevant United Nations human rights treaties, voluntarily accepted and into force in the Republic of Mongolia.”

They also requested UNCHR to urge the authorities in Mongolia strongly, to ensure that Mr. Veysel Akçay, a victim of abduction under distress and at risk of another imminent abduction in Mongolia, be allowed to travel to a safe third country and until then he and his family are provided protection, necessary to deter any renewed attempt against his right to liberty and security. The lawyers also urged the UNCHR to take immediate action.

In order to take Akçay to Turkey after his abduction, a private plane was held at Ulan Bator Airport for all day on July 27. Akçay, who has worked at educational institutions in Mongolia for 24 years, is reportedly one of only a few Turkish nationals awarded the Mongolian Friendship Medal bestowed by the Mongolian state.

After reactions from Mongolian public and media, Mongolian authorities did not allow MİT agents to transfer Akçay from Ulan Bator to Turkey. The private plane had to depart the airport without Akçay.

The Mongolian Foreign Ministry had issued a statement on the abduction of Akçay and underlined that such an unacceptable act would be “a violation of Mongolia’s sovereignty and independence” and that Mongolia would strongly object to it.

The Mongolian Foreign Ministry statement had indicated that Deputy Foreign Minister Batmunkh Battsetseg met with a Turkish diplomat over the abduction case.

Akçay is married to Meryem Akçay and they have four children. Akçay works as general manager of the Empathy Worldwide Educational Institution, which has run the Turkish-Mongolia Schools (four high schools, one international school, one-day care center) established by the Gülen movement 25 years ago.

MİT abducted journalist Yusuf İnan and Salih Zeki Yigit in Ukraine, and İsa Özdemir in Azerbaijan early in July. They were transported by MİT agents to İstanbul by private plane. MİT agents had abducted six teachers in Kosovo on March over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. In cooperation with Kosovar intelligence, MİT’s abduction of the teachers sparked widespread debate and drew ire from around the world.

According to a statement made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, over 100 alleged members of the Gülen movement have been abducted by MİT agents abroad and brought back to Turkey as part of the Turkish government’s global manhunt.

“We have been watching these traitors for two years and have brought the leading figures of FETÖ to our country. Some of these cases were covered by the press, while others weren’t at the request of the countries involved. I can frankly say that more than 100 FETÖ-affiliated people have been brought to Turkey,” Çavuşoğlu said in an interview with Turkey’s pro-government CNN Türk.

“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to refer to the Gülen movement.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen 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 has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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