UN committee seeks further information from Turkey in case of missing Yusuf Bilge Tunç

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has requested further information from Turkey in the case of former civil servant Yusuf Bilge Tunç, who has been missing since August 2019 and is believed to have been abducted by Turkish intelligence, the TR724 news website reported.

The committee, through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), announced on Friday that a request submitted on behalf of Şefika Nur Kurt, the sister of Tunç, on December 8 was registered as a communication under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“[A] copy of the communication has been sent to the State party today, with request that any information or observation …. should reach the Committee no later than 16 June 2023,” the committee said.

“The United Nations Human Rights Committee has accepted our request for my brother! This is a great step so that those who are responsible for my brother’s disappearance do not go unpunished,” Kurt tweeted.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) previously rejected an application claiming that Turkish authorities failed to carry out an effective investigation into Tunç’s disappearance. The court declared the application “inadmissible,” rejecting the allegations of Tunç’s family against the Turkish government as “unfounded.”

The Geneva-based International Association for Human Rights Advocacy (IAHRA), which submitted the application behalf of Tunç’s sister, announced in a tweet, ‘’UN Human Rights Committee has registered our communication for Yusuf Bilge Tunç! This is a great step from the Committee to enlighten the enforced disappearance of Mr. Tunç in 2019 by MİT [National Intelligence Organization] agents. Turkey is now obliged to give an account.’’

 

Tunç disappeared in Ankara on Aug. 6, 2019 in broad daylight, leaving no trace behind. His father, Mustafa Tunç, earlier said neither the police nor the prosecutor had cooperated with the family in finding their son.

Tunç’s car was found in a remote area 45 days after he vanished from Ankara’s GİMAT shopping mall. His family immediately called the police; yet the police showed no real interest in his disappearance. “The police only conducted a crime scene investigation six months after we found the car and contacted them,” said Mustafa Tunç. “We had already removed the car from where we found it, so the investigation was really a formality.”

Tunç was a former civil servant who was summarily fired by an executive decree after a July 15, 2016 coup attempt on the grounds that he had links to the Gülen movement.

Nearly 30 people have reportedly been abducted by Turkish intelligence since 2016. Most of the abductions targeted members of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of Dec. 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Many of the abductees mysteriously reappeared in police custody in Ankara after six to nine-month absences. Apparently intimidated, most of them had kept their silence after their reappearance.

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