Turkish HR defender Gergerlioğlu writes details of latest abduction scandal in Ankara

Prominent Turkish human rights defender and writer Ömer Faruk Gergeroğlu has penned an article detailing the April 21 abduction in Ankara of Orçun Şenyücel, who was dismissed from his civil servant job over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Şenyücel, a father of two who used to work as an expert at the Competition Authority, from where he was dismissed in 2016, has been abducted by an unknown group of people, according to one of his parents. “My son Orçun Şenyücel, who was dismissed under a post-coup government decree in 2016, was abducted after being forced into a black Transporter [van] in Ankara’s Turkkonut district at 00.04 on April 21, 2018,” a Twitter account believed to be that of his parent said.

“My son was only a dismissed public employee. He has never been tried or convicted of any charges. I am worried for his life, help me,” said the tweet.

Video footage believed to show Şenyücel’s abduction was shared by the same Twitter account on Monday.

Thirteen people have been recorded as abducted in Turkey, 11 of them kidnapped in Ankara by National Intelligence Organization (MİT)-affiliated paramilitary forces which work with a hundred percent impunity. The mysterious kidnappings in Turkey is bringing back the fear of enforced disappearances by state agencies in the mid-1990s.

While opposition politicians put the number at eight, Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD), an independent NGO, said it had documented 10 cases as of last May. Another two abductions are alleged to have taken place in June. On Aug. 3, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül in a letter to investigate the abductions and possibly enforced disappearances in Ankara of at least four men who have been missing since March.

In the 1990s, at the height of the state’s brutal war against terrorists of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), security forces disappeared hundreds of civilians, most of them Kurds. Often, they were tortured. Some victims’ bodies were eventually found; in many cases, their fate remains unknown to this day. Over the years, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found the Turkish state responsible in numerous cases.

Writing that “currently there is no news from Şenyücel, the father of two children,” Gergerlioğlu said in his article published by online news outlet Ahval that “the surveillance footage was terrifying. Şenyücel, who was getting out of his car, was forcibly abducted by people in a black Transporter and a white Toyota.”

The full text of Gergerlioğlu’s article is as follows:

Another terrifying abduction case..!

By Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu

Orçun Şenyücel left his home to buy milk for his children at around 8:30 pm in the Türkkonut district of Ankara on April 20, 2018.

People who tried to call him later could not reach his phone. As a result of further investigation, his relatives accessed the security footage of the grocery store where he went to get the milk.

The surveillance footage was terrifying. Şenyücel, who was getting out of his car, was forcibly abducted by people in a black Transporter van and a white Toyota.

There has been no news from Şenyücel, a father of two. He worked as an expert at the competition board but was sacked on accusations of ‘FETO’ (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization, so called by the government) [membership], based on a decree-law (KHK) put into force in August 2016.

His relatives immediately went to police headquarters, where it emerged that the license plate of the Toyota used in the abduction had been stolen.

The license plate number of the black Transporter could not be determined from the footage. The prosecutor is expected to initiate an investigation. But video footage is very clear these days, and CCTV cameras can detect a car route even if the license plate is stolen.

This is a new addition to the recent abduction cases. Up to 13 people have been abducted in Ankara. The common characteristic of these individuals is that they were dismissed under a decree-law on ‘FETO’ accusations. The last person kidnapped has the same background.

Among the abductees, the 13th one, Ümit Horzum, had been missing for 133 days. The result of this case, which I have been following for a long time, was similar to the previous abduction cases.

Horzum was found a week ago. He was extremely emaciated, exhausted, his ribs were broken and his eardrum was ruptured. The police department claimed they had detained him in Ankara’s Ümitköy district.

However after missing for 133 days, Horzum told his lawyers he was transferred from one car to another. Let’s see where will Şenyücel emerge.

Şenyücel’s relatives are very anxious.

Şenyücel did not have any enemies and had no debts. He had never been investigated. Again in Ankara, and again another abductee who was dismissed under the KHK. It brings many questions to mind.

We know very well that no light has been shed on the abduction incidents of the 1990s. Previously the car used for the abductions was a white Toros (local Renault model). Now there is always a black Transporter in the surveillance footage.

Is that a sign?

The long-continuing abduction cases that have been exposed or are unable to be exposed are bad marks in human rights on Turkey’s report card.

If this kidnapping case is to face the bureaucratic obstacles and slownesses that the relatives of previous abductees faced in their appeals, the situation is not a pretty sight. 

The common identities of the abductees bring a lot of questions to mind. The rapid decrease in Turkey’s human rights record reported in recent years by numerous human rights organizations and international organizations is extremely unsettling.

We hope these cases don’t signal Turkey’s return to the 1990s.”

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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