Teachers fleeing Ankara crackdown to be deported to Bulgaria by Germany, fear possible extradition by Sofia


A German court rejected the asylum claims of two Turkish teachers who worked for schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in Vietnam, deciding to deport them to Bulgaria, where they risk being extradited to Turkey, Turkish Minute reported. citing the Bold Medya news site.

Jülide Çetin and Şeyma Demirel, who worked as English teachers at the Horizon International Bilingual School in Hanoi, arrived in Germany on June 18 with a Schengen visa issued by Bulgaria and applied for asylum in the country. They were held at the airport for 36 days and say they expect their deportation in four or five days.

Teachers say they will not be safe in Bulgaria, as the country has deported at least seven asylum seekers linked to the Gülen movement to Turkey, where they have been prosecuted.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting supporters of the Gülen movement since corruption investigations from December 17 to 25, 2013, which involved then Prime Minister Erdoğan, members of his family and his entourage.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gulenist coup and a plot against his government, Erdoğan called the movement a terrorist organization and began targeting its members. He stepped up the crackdown on the movement following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt he accused Gülen of being the mastermind.

Teachers said they went to Germany because they were not safe in Vietnam after Turkish intelligence illegally returned supporters of the Gülen movement from neighboring countries Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and from Indonesia.

Over the past five years, dozens of people suspected by Turkish authorities of having links with the Gülen movement, living in countries around the world, have been arbitrarily detained and forcibly returned to Turkey. There they are incarcerated on false terrorism charges in violation of due process rights and protections.

A recent Freedom House report on transnational repression indicates that Turkey has emerged as the number one country that has carried out renditions from host states since 2014. The Turkish government has pursued its perceived enemies in at least 30 distributed host countries in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia since July 2016.

“The Ankara campaign has mainly targeted people affiliated with the movement of religious leader Fethullah Gülen, whom the government accuses of the attempted coup,” the report said.

According to a joint letter written by four UN rapporteurs dated May 2020, kidnappings by MİT tend to follow a similar pattern. After Turkey fails to secure a legal extradition, the authorities resort to illegal covert operations. The people targeted are placed under “24-hour surveillance, followed by house searches and arbitrary arrests in the context of undercover operations by agents of the police or intelligence in plain clothes”, explains the letter. .

Once arrested, the target is forcibly taken into an unmarked vehicle, after which it may remain forcibly disappeared for up to several weeks before being deported.

“During this period, they are often subjected to coercion, torture and degrading treatment aimed at obtaining their consent to voluntary return and extracting confessions which would inform criminal proceedings upon their arrival in Turkey,” the report said. letter.

Turkish agents tend to use various torture methods to obtain such forced confessions, including starvation of food and sleep, waterboarding, electric shocks and beatings, the rapporteurs wrote in the letter based on personal testimony.

“With this comes threats to the life, safety and personal integrity of family members and relatives,” the UN rapporteurs said.

Case of Abdullah Büyük

Businessman Abdullah Büyük, sued in Turkey for links to Gülen, moved to Bulgaria in 2016, imagining the country would be safe for him as an EU member state.

Bulgarian courts have rejected Turkey’s extradition request for Büyük. However, the Turkish Foreign Minister has publicly announced that he plans to bring back “a person of interest” from Bulgaria.

While on his way to a meeting in Sofia, the police blocked Büyük’s vehicle. The Bulgarians drove him 180 miles to the border, where they handed him over to the Turkish authorities.

In a draft report on Turkey prepared by the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, Members of the European Parliament strongly condemned “the forced extraditions, kidnappings and kidnappings of Turkish citizens residing outside Turkey on the sole basis of their alleged links with the Gülen movement ”and urged the European Union to combat the“ worrying ”practice in its own member states, notably in Bulgaria.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Tuesday that Bulgaria had violated the rights of a Turkish journalist who fled Ankara’s crackdown on dissent by deporting him without considering his asylum claim.

The ECtHR declared that Bulgaria had violated Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights and ordered the payment of 15,000 euros in non-pecuniary damage to the applicant, D, whose name has not been disclosed.

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