Yet another mysterious abduction by a black van in Turkey’s capital

Hasan Kala, an academic who was fired from his job at Çankırı Karatekin University by a government decree under a state 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 by an unknown group of people on Saturday night.

Associate Professor Hasan Kala

According to information shared by Turkish social media accounts, Associate Professor Kala was abducted after being forced into a black Transporter van in Ankara’s Batıkent district at 11:30 p.m. on July 21, 2018.

Thirteen people have reportedly been abducted in Turkey, 11 of them kidnapped in Ankara by National Intelligence Organization (MİT)-affiliated paramilitary forces that work with total impunity. The mysterious kidnappings in Turkey are bringing back fears of the enforced disappearances by state agencies in the mid-1990s.

Opposition politicians put the number at eight, while Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD), an independent NGO, said it had documented 10 cases as of May, 2017. Another two abductions are alleged to have taken place in June 2017. On Aug. 3, 2017 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 2017.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has so far documented 18 individual cases of disappearance since 2016 that show a systematic and deliberate campaign of kidnappings by elements within the Turkish security and intelligence services as part of intimidation campaign to silence critical and independent voices and kill the right to dissent.

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 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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