Court arrests 4 men allegedly abducted by Turkish intelligence
Four out of six men who were allegedly abducted by the Turkish intelligence agency in February and were missing for months were arrested by a court on Friday evening over Gülen links, according to Deutsche Welle Turkish service. Yasin Ugan, Özgür Kaya, Erkan Irmak and Salim Zeybek have been in police custody since July 28.
Gökhan Türkmen and Mustafa Yılmaz, who were also abducted in February, are still missing.
Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a Turkish deputy and human rights activist, called the court ruling a “scandal,” reporting that the detainees did not even know the names of their attorneys, who according to officials they hired. Lawyers from human rights organizations were removed from the corridors near the courtroom by the police, the DW report stated.
Turkey accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt, although it strongly denies any involvement. Since 2016 at least 24 Gülen-linked individuals have gone missing. Two of the abducted Gülen followers told Correctiv, a non-profit investigative newsroom in Europe, they had been subjected to torture and ill treatment by intelligence officers at a secret site in Ankara.
Turkish rights groups call on authorities to abolish units responsible for abductions
Four rights organisations and lawyers said on Wednesday that certain units within Turkish state security organisations were likely to be responsible for abduction incidents, and called on the authorities to take the appropriate action against them, Mezopotamya News Agency reported on Wednesday.
The rights groups organised a joint press conference after families of four men, who went missing along with two others in February, were informed by the authorities on Sunday that their relatives were being held by the Ankara police department’s anti-terror department.
All six men were among public servants sacked from their jobs over links to Gülen religious movement, which Turkey accuses of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016.
The police said the four men had been detained during a routine security check in Ankara on Sunday.
But the authorities have given no indication of where the men were during the five previous months.
In a joint declaration, four civil society organisations – the Human Right Association, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, Ankara Chamber of Medicine, and Rights Initiative – said that the authorities were neglecting their responsibility to effectively investigate human rights violations and bring those responsible to justice.
“The only thing that comes to our minds in relation to that incident is that a special unit within the state is carrying out those abductions and that everybody is staying silent about these practices. We do not want a new report on extra-judicial practices. Turkey has to abolish those special units,” the statement said.
The rights groups said the police had allowed only one member of each family to visit the detainees, while the lawyers had still not been permitted to visit their clients. The police had denied all knowledge on the two other men who were still missing, they said.
Kerem Altıparmak, an academic and a human rights advocate, said that the police’s treatment of the four detainees had raised suspicions of a coverup of serious misconduct. He said that the families had filed a complaint immediately after those people had gone missing, but they had not been provided with any information about the progress of the investigation.
Altıparmak said the police had told the families that the detainees did not want lawyers. “Now why would a person who has been missing for six months decline to be represented by a lawyer. There is no reasonable explanation for that,” he said.
Neither the lawyers nor the families had information whether the detainees had undergone medical checks, Altıparmak said.
Emir Seydi Kaya, the lawyer of one of the detainees, said that the prosecutors had denied responsibility for investigating whether the detainees had been tortured and had declined the lawyers’ demand for detainees to be checked by independent experts.
From Relatives of the Disappeared to Erdoğan: We Don’t Live in Bright Picture You Draw
While the relatives of the disappeared carried carnations and pictures of their losses in their hands, this week's gathering was also attended by Republican People's Party (CHP) MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chairs Sezai Temelli and Pervin Buldan, who is also the wife of Savaş Buldan, who was commemorated in this gathering.
Reading out this week's statement for the press on behalf of Saturday Mothers/People, Besna Tosun addressed the Judicial Reform Strategy document introduced by President and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week:
'We are made to live in unlawfulness'
"We don't live in the 'Bright Picture of Turkey' that the President has drawn. We live in a limbo where we cannot learn the fate of our loved ones who were disappeared. We are made to live in a state of unlawfulness where we cannot reach the truth and justice and cannot communicate our demands to the public. We are making a call to the President:
"What we need as a society is not the judicial packages that are the repetition of each other and remain unfulfilled, but the practices that will ensure real justice, democracy and human rights.
"We are calling onyou to immediately initiate the practices based on our Constitutional demands and democratic requests of society in the name of truth, justice and conscience.
'We know the perpetrators very well'
Taking the floor after Besna Tosun, HDP Co-Chair Pervin Buldan, who is also the wife of Savaş Buldan disappeared in custody 25 years ago today, also made the following remarks:
"In this 25-year period, we appealed to everyone, we knocked on every door. But, we were faced with thick walls and a silent, deaf and mute system that doesn't see the incident and doesn't want it to be investigated. For 25 years, we have done our best to ensure that murderers will be brought to justice.
"The policy of systematic disappearance and massacre has been continuing up until today. In fact, we know very well who the perpetrators are. We know that these murders were committed by the hand of the state. Because the ones who committed these murders have never hidden themselves, they told about the murders in some commissions. However, the state and government didn't do anything to change it.
"If the ones killed in unidentified murders are not a part of this judicial reform, if there is nothing about the trial of the responsible parties in it, then we don't expect anything from this judicial reform. These issues should definitely be included in the reform, the society must be relieved." (EMK/AÖ/SD)
TURKEY 2017 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT
There were some unconfirmed reports of disappearances during the year, some of which human rights groups alleged were politically motivated. Opposition politicians and respected human rights groups claimed at least 11 abductions or disappearances of individuals with alleged Gulen ties or who opposed the government occurred.
Similarly in April Onder Asan disappeared in Ankara. Six weeks later, his family located him in an Ankara police station. Asan alleged that before being transferred to official custody, he was interrogated and tortured by security forces. Most of the victims identified by HRW had been dismissed from government jobs under the state of emergency. Government officials disputed HRW's claims but declined to provide information on its investigative efforts, if any.
ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES TARGETING
THE GULEN MOVEMENT