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HomeExpertsThe world is up in arms against Turkey's abductions.

The world is up in arms against Turkey’s abductions.

It’s satanic, cruel, culpable international crime and definitely serious abuse of the red star and crescent Turkish flag.

On May 19,2021, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is quoted by Anadolu state news agency as telling a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party that the government “had recently apprehended an important member of FETO and that he would soon announce who that person is and give that person’s identity.”

Within hours that person’s picture is made public. It is a photograph of Selahattin Gulen, nephew of a Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is living in exile in Pennsylvania, U.S. Selahattin is in handcuffs. Out of the ordinary, he is standing between (flanked by?) two Turkish flags.

What a without shame abuse of the national flag. The star in it represents independence. The crescent stands for religion (faith) and the red background for the precious blood that was shed for the Republic. Because the spirit of the national flag is defined in the letters of the national constitution, the mother of all laws, a breach of any of those provisions amounts to a breach of the Constitution. What takes place in the running of Turkish affairs today is trampling on the national flag, which is a crime.

In broad daylight, Selahattin was abducted by Turkish state agents from Kenya’s capital Nairobi in East Africa, whisked to the airport and flown to Turkey. Nairobi and Ankara are more than 4,600 kilometres apart. In this criminal act, Selahattin lost his right to freedom as prescribed in the national flag’s star.

Abduction involves the use of force during which torture is a normal thing. It is unreligious because Islam outlaws the use of force. The faith is all about peace, safety and love. Salaam is not just a greeting, but the Islamic faith keyword. It is the modus vivendi.

The abduction of Selahattin is not an isolated case. On its heels was a similar incident in Kyrgyzstan, also involving a teacher, prompting students to storm the Turkish embassy demanding the return of their teacher.

Kenya was silent, raising a question as to whether the country’s intelligence knew something about the operation. The incident sent chilling messages to Gulen linked education delivery institutions in neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda. How safe are the Turkish teachers in the countries because Nairobi is not far from Kampala and Dar es Salaam?

Since the July 2016 controversial failed coup, agents from the Turkish national intelligence organization (MIT) have intensified this dirty game at home and extended it to other countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Africa. The target has mainly been anybody, however remotely, linked with Gulen and the Hizmet movement. Selahattin’s ‘crime’ is being Fethullah’s nephew.

Over these years, even much earlier in some cases, Turkey has become one among countries that have conducted renditions from host sites, pursuing its perceived enemies.  Some reports put the number of countries close to 50. The operations have spelt systematic torture to the extent that operatives wait until wounds have healed before handing over their victims to the police.

Erdogan has also attempted to convince countries to join his personal fight against the Hizmet members within their borders even contrary to their own laws. Some have fallen in the trap to arrest and deport members of the Gulen movement. Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Georgia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Turkmenistan are some of these countries.

In Myanmar, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, and Sudan, the countries didn’t even follow their own laws while carrying out the deportations. In some, the local intelligence agencies cooperated to seize Gulen followers, while in some others, Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) didn’t even need to ask for permission to stage an operation.

In Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Malaysia, and Pakistan, even Erdogan’s opponents who had applied for asylum or had UN protection against persecution have been deported or left to be kidnapped by MIT agents.  Of course this is in breach of international law and existing protocols to which even Turkey is or was signatory.  

One can understand how a government can arrest or abduct its citizens within its borders. But a big question arises when such operations assume cross-border dimensions.  Why should a government subject its subjects to such repression even on foreign land? Turkey has descended to become a part of the club of countries which hardly respect the foreign jurisdictions while conspiring against persons or communities they deem the enemy.

The Convention on the Forced Disappearance of Persons states, “forced disappearance of persons is… a grave and abominable offense against the inherent dignity of the human being.”  It also adds, “forced disappearance of persons violates numerous non-derogable and essential human rights” and reaffirms that the systematic practice of disappearance “constitutes a crime against humanity.”

The International Criminal Court (ICC) expands upon this definition of enforced disappearance, detailing it as the “arrest, detention or abduction of persons by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons, with the intention of removing them from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time.”

Article 1 of the 2006 Convention on Enforced Disappearance states categorically: “No one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance…No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance.”

Why then does Erdogan’s regime engage in terrorizing, abducting, and transporting people around the world and continue to violate widely recognized international laws and national sovereignty of countries subject to such operations?  It is all by design.

On April 17, 2014, the Turkish Parliament made a critical change in the laws of the land by empowering the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) with the legal authority to conduct undercover missions outside Turkey’s borders. 

Three years later, a decree-law put the MİT under the presidency and Erdogan was assigned the chair of the National Intelligence Coordination Council (MİKK) which is the main strategy-making body for MİT’s moves outside Turkey.  This was like what we express in Africa as adorning the mad man with a crown of dry banana leaf. What should the world expect from the MIT operatives under the command of (al)mighty Erdogan who is literally mad for power?

In the words of Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST), the “people are abducted without even knowing what their crimes are or who exactly has captured them. They appear in court only after months of heavy tortures, if they are lucky to live long enough. Indeed, they can’t see even the faces of their abductors or torturers, much less their lawyers or families.” (Next: Erdogan, the King of Kosovo?)

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Felix Kaiza is a Tanzanian journalist with more than 50 years of experience currently working as an independent media consultant. Learned in agriculture, journalism, political science and international relations, his main fields of consultancy, besides the media, are good governance, nature conservation, tourism and investment. He was the first Tanzanian Chief Sub-Editor of an English daily newspaper in 1970, he has been behind the establishment and growth of the national independent media since the early 1990s. He is UNFAO Fellow Journalist since 1975 and has wide experience on regional integration. He worked on the Information Directorate of the original East African Community on whose ashes survive the current one. His ambition is to brand Tanzania in the inbound market with made-in-Tanzania brands, including information, almost all of which is currently foreign brewed.

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