FIDH: Journalist Çapan imprisoned in Turkey after unofficial refoulement from Greece

Journalists Cevheri Güven (R) and Murat Çapan.

Turkish journalist Murat Çapan has been imprisoned in Turkey after unofficial refoulement from Greece, said the FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) in a press release on Tuesday.

FIDH has stated in its press release that “An unofficial refoulement of from Greece to Turkey took place along the Evros (Meriç) River on May 24th. This time, it concerns Turkish citizens seeking asylum in Greece, among them Murat Çapan, who was a journalist for the Nokta magazine and is now imprisoned in Turkey where he was previously sentenced for 22,5 years.”

Stating that the Hellenic League for Human Rights has received allegations concerning the refoulement of Turkish asylum seekers in Evros, FIDH said “The unofficial refoulement from Greece to Turkey of persons that are possibly entitled to international protection, not only have not been terminated, but on the contrary seem to be conducted in concert with Turkish authorities violating even the notion of the rule of law. A recent eponymous incident shows the true dimensions of this practice.”

According to the information gathered by FIDH, “Murat Çapan, managing editor of Nokta magazine, was prosecuted and finally sentenced in absentia to 22,5 years in prison for participation in a terrorist group and attempting to overthrow the constitution. He crossed the river Evros to the Greek side at 06:00 in the morning on May 24th, 2017, along with two of his friends.

“They reached Didymoteicho where they were picked up by police officers and lead to the police station. There they asked to apply for asylum. In the police station there was also a Turkish family with three children that had crossed Evros. After a while they were told they would be transferred to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and were put in a white unmarked van.

“After a while the van met with another car and they were lead to a field. A group of five masked gunmen, dressed in camo, lead them to the river without saying a single word. The Turkish nationals saw that there was an inflatable boat waiting there and they repeated their demand to apply for asylum.

“Their hands were bound and they were all put on the boat which crossed to the opposite shore with two of the masked gunmen, near an outpost of the Turkish army, where they were abandoned. After a while, they were found by Turkish police officers. Murat Çapan is already in prison, with everything this entails. The family is likewise in detention.”

FIDH stated that “The refoulement to the Turkish authorities of people that are in danger of severe violations of their most basic human rights, if it has indeed taken place, is a blatant violation of international law and it is clear it was not the initiative of the local police force.”

FIDH has also demanded the immediate investigation of the incident and concrete answers from the relevant ministers concerning the policy that is in effect at the borders. Also it said that the Human League for Human Rights has already sent an official notice to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees demanding the investigation of the incident.

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is an international human rights NGO federating 184 organizations from 112 countries. Since 1922, FIDH has been defending all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Nokta magazine was shut down by the despotic Erdoğan regime in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over its alleged links with the Gülen movement. Nokta magazine’s former managing editor Çapan was handed down an imprisonment of 22 years and six months by İstanbul’s 14th High Criminal Court on May 22. The same court also convicted the Nokta’s editor-in-chief Cevheri Güven of the same charge, giving him the same sentence.

It was reported that the border guards detained Çapan on Wednesday along with four other people including a retired police chief, a university lecturer, and two teachers who were purged by Turkish government’s executive decrees under the rule of emergency declared by the government following the July 15 coup attempt.

Turkey is the leading jailer of journalists in the world. The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 264 journalists are now in jails as of May 27, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 241 are arrested pending trial, only 23 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 105 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the coup attempt.

A military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic 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.

According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.

May 30, 2017

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