US congressman joins protest against İnandı’s abduction, calls ongoing repression in Turkey ‘a crime against humanity’

US Congressman Randy Weber on Wednesday joined protestors in front of the US Capitol who demanded that Kyrgyz and Turkish authorities find educator Orhan İnandı, who is allegedly being held against his will in the Turkish Embassy in Bishkek.

“We need to get Orhan İnandı free,” Weber, a Republican lawmaker from Texas, said. “That’s just the latest example in a long line of travesties. I’d call it crimes against humanity, crimes against democracy, crimes against the world. Erdoğan needs to stop the thuggery.”

İnandı, the founder and president of the Turkish-Kyrgyz Sapat school network operating in Kyrgyzstan, went missing in Bishkek on the evening of May 31 and is feared to have been abducted by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Weber said the United States needs to impose sanctions on Erdoğan. “We ought to let him know that in no uncertain terms this is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated. So I call upon Congress, I call upon the president, the State Department, I call upon the Senate … let’s make him know in no uncertain terms this will not be tolerated,” he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 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 movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following a 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.

Orhan İnandı’s wife, Reyhan İnandı, said in a June 6 statement that an undisclosed source told her that her husband was being held against his will at the Turkish Embassy, and she claimed he was being tortured to renounce his Kyrgyz citizenship. This would simplify İnandı’s forcible transfer to Turkey, she said.

Taalaygul Toktakunova, the attorney for the İnandı family, shared records from a dashcam from İnandı’s car showing suspicious individuals who could have been involved in his disappearance, which occurred right after a meeting with a former minister who took a trip outside Kyrgyzstan soon after İnandı went missing.

Protests have taken place in Berlin, London and Brussels as well as Bishkek in support of the Turkish educator, demanding his release. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has called on Turkey to promptly take all measures necessary to establish the whereabouts of İnandı and said the government should ensure that İnandı would not be subjected to torture and inhuman treatment, guarantee his physical and mental integrity and immediately place him under the protection of the law.

Rights organizations have also asked Kyrgyz authorities to exert efforts for the release of İnandı. Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Kyrgyz authorities to investigate the disappearance of İnandı and “ensure his safety and that he is not unlawfully removed to Turkey.”

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