[VIDEO] Stranded at Kiev airport by Erdoğan’s long reach abroad

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Ali Yıldız

A Turkish family with children has been detained for three days without explanation by Ukrainian security officials at the international airport in Kiev, according to a short video shared by Turkish national Ali Yıldız on Twitter on Saturday, according to a report by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF).

Yıldız and his family are new victims of the long reach of the Turkish government under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In his short video Yıldız calls on the international community and human rights organizations to help him and his family avoid being sent to Turkey against their will.

Yıldız says in the video: “My name is Ali Yıldız. I have been three days in this room. I came from Bangkok to Kiev as a tourist. I am a Turkish citizen. Ukraine does not require visas from Turkish citizens. Now we are at Kiev International Airport.”

Saying that Ukrainian security officers put them in the room and locked the door without any explanation, Yıldız continued: “Two soldiers [wait] outside. Yesterday [Friday], I had a flight from Kiev to Casablanca. They did not allow me to fly. They said, ‘We are going to send you to Bangkok. Today, two officers came and said you cannot fly again. I asked them ‘Why am I not flying?’ They said ‘Now you can fly only to Turkey, İstanbul.”

“I don’t want to cancel my flight,” Yıldız said and appealed to the international community and human rights organizations to help them. Yıldız said: “I don’t want them to send me to Turkey. I don’t know what the reason is or what has happened. Please help me!”

This is not the first case of Erdoğan regime’s persecuting dissidents. Muhammet Furkan Sökmen, a Turkish teacher working for two schools established by Gülen movement followers in Myanmar, was returned to Turkey on Saturday despite his cries for help on social media. Sökmen was detained at İstanbul Atatürk Airport and taken to a police station for interrogation on Saturday.

Sökmen called for “help from the world” in a video recording he posted on social media minutes before he was handed over to Turkish authorities at Yangon International Airport by Myanmar police on Friday.

According to another video he posted earlier on social media, Sökmen, his wife Ayşe and daughter Sibel were detained by local immigration officials who told the family that the Turkish government had invalidated their passports.

According to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, Sökmen was first deported to Bangkok on May 24.

“They took me to Bangkok. I am at the airport now. If they send me to Turkey, I will be imprisoned and most probably tortured like many others tortured under the current regime. … I am asking for international protection,” Sökmen said in another video.

Despite his calls, he was taken back to İstanbul in the company of Turkish police on a Turkish Airlines flight.

An executive at the Horizon International Schools, Sökmen is also a partner of the Mediterranean International Education Services Co., Ltd., both based in Myanmar.

The United Nations expressed grave concern on Saturday over the deportation by Myanmar and Thailand of Turkish national Sökmen due to alleged connections to a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

The United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said the deportation of Sökmen, a former employee of an international school in Yangon, to Turkey was one of an increasing number of cases of Turkish nationals singled out by the Turkish government over alleged links with Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, NBA star Enes Kanter was denied entry to Romania upon a request from the Turkish government, according to a tweet posted by the Turkish basketball player on May 20. An outspoken movement supporter, Kanter later told media that the Turkish government also had tried to catch him in Indonesia.

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