Ümit Horzum becomes latest victim of abductions targeting alleged members of Gülen movement in Ankara

Ümit Horzum and his children.

Ümit Horzum, a Turkish citizen who was dismissed from his duty at the Turkish Accreditation Agency (TURKAK) by a government decree on August 2016 under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over his alleged links to the Gülen movement, was reportedly abducted in Ankara by unidentified person or persons.

Brussels-based online news portal TR724 reported on Wednesday that his family and relatives could have not taken information whereabouts of Ümit Horzum for more than a week. It was also reported that Horzum was sought by police after a detention warrant was issued for him over his alleged links to the Gülen movement and his house was raided by gendermarie on August 16, 2016. However, he has not surrendered to police because of his fear of widespread and systematic torture in detention. Horzum has reportedly not stayed at his home for a long time since he has been afraid of detention.

Eventually, a friend of the family has informed a few days ago that Ümit Horzum was abducted near Ankara A City Shopping Center at 6 p.m. on December 6, 2017. Afterwards, his wife Aynur Horzum’s efforts to learn the place, where he is kept, have given no result.

It was reported that Aynur Horzum has applied to police department, gendarmerie and prosecutor’s offices to get information about him and to check if he was detained. However, she could not find any trace of his husband.

After learning that there is no detention registration about her husband, Aynur Horzum applied to a gendarmerie station near her house and informed the authorities that his husband was abducted. A Gendarmerie Commander has reportedly warned her to give up looking after her husband and stated that “No good can come to you from him. He is a wanted man with a charge of life imprisonment over being an executive in a terror organisation.” The same commander has reportedly registered the application as “missing” instead of “abduction.”  

After this scandal Horzum’s wife has intended to make a legal complaint. However none of the prosecutors have reportedly accepted her application. Eventually, a prosecutor has accepted her legal complaint with a condition that she will give up tracing her husband. The prosecutor has also refused to give her an application registration number.

Aynur Horzum has stated that her husband has not had even a simple investigation until he was dismissed from his duty by the government under the rule of emergency. On the basis of indifference of authorities Aynur Horzum, a mother of two children, has shared the situation in her social media account and demanded help from politicians and sensitive circles.

Aynur Horzum has stated in series of tweets in her Twitter account on Wednesday that: “I haven’t heard from my husband Ümit Horzum since Wednesday, Dec 6, 2017, 6 pm. …Following media reports on tortured detainees, my husband was scared and he left home to hide. …A short while after leaving, gendarmerie came to our home to detain him. …He was not staying at home since then. A few days ago, one of his friends stopped by to say that his car was stopped and that he was abducted by force. [His friend] left without answering any further question.”

“For whole week, I have been frequenting every hospital, police station, courtroom and gendarmerie station to find my husband. …The gendarmerie sergeant told me: ‘Stop trying to find him. He is a [terror] group leader who is going to be sentenced to jail in prison. He is up to no good for you’”

“Some officials say: ‘The government has probably taken him,’ backing up their assumptions with journalist Cem Küçük’s remarks on TV. …I am a mother of two, my children are constantly crying to ask for their father.”

It was recorded that 13 people were abducted in Turkey, 11 of them were kidnapped in Ankar by Turkish National Intelligence (MİT) affiliated paramilitary forces which works under hundred percent impunity. The mysterious kidnappings in Turkey is bringing back the fear of forced disappearances by state agencies in the mid-1990s.

While opposition politicians put the number at eight, and Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD), an independent NGO, said it had documented 10 cases as of 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 ECtHR found the Turkish state responsible in numerous cases.

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 Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, 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.

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