The European Union on Thursday said it was closely following developments in Turkey including the abductions of people from the Hizmet movement, reminding Ankara of its responsibility to investigate these reported cases.
“The EU is closely following developments in Turkey on a daily basis. As for the reported cases of abductions, the EU has on many occasions stressed that any alleged wrongdoing or crime should be subject to due process and that the right of every individual to a fair trial needs to be respected,” said an EU spokesperson in response to a question about recent instances of abduction in Turkey.
On Thursday BBC reported on 11 cases in which people in Turkey have either been abducted in similar fashion or disappeared since January. Neither the Turkish Interior Ministry nor Ankara Governor’s Office responded to BBC’s questions on the cases.
“It is the responsibility of the Turkish authorities to investigate these reported cases and ensure that European standards and international law are respected,” added the EU spokesperson.
On Sunday, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu submitted a parliamentary question to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım about the fate of seven people kidnapped in Ankara and the legal procedures concerning them.
Recalling that one person was kidnapped in Ankara before a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, and six after it in similar ways, Tanrıkulu said: “They have not been heard from. It is said that despite evidence gathered by relatives of kidnapped and disappeared people, security footage and witnesses, no investigations have been launched. The security forces are reluctant to launch an investigation.”
Underlining that all of the kidnapped people were targeted by an investigation into the Gülen movement and suspended from their jobs by government decree, the CHP deputy said, “According to security footage and witness testimony, in all the kidnapping cases black Volkswagen Transporter vans were used, and all seven were followed by people whose faces can be identified in security footage.”
The most recent abduction reportedly took place in İzmir on June 16. Murat Okumuş, a 40-year-old accountant who was a manager at Şifa University Hospital in Izmir, which was closed down by the government, was abducted by individuals in several cars.
One of the cars was a Volkswagen Caddy with a license plate starting with 45, while the other was a Toyota Auris, 20 AK 171, witnesses told his father.
Okumuş was the operations manager at Izmir-based Şifa University Hospital, shuttered over its links to the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a July 15, 2016 coup attempt. The movement denies any involvement.
Okumuş’s abduction came only a day after Cemil Koçak, another post-coup victim, was forced into a black van in broad daylight in Turkey’s capital province of Ankara.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. 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.
According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals, including journalists, teachers, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and businessmen have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.