EP’s Harms to visit Turkish teacher jailed due to Gülen links in Georgia

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Mustafa Emre Çabuk

Rebecca Harms, a member of the European Parliament and co-chair of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, on Sunday will visit Turkish teacher Mustafa Emre Çabuk, who was put behind bars in Georgia in May due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to a press statement from her office on Thursday.

Çabuk, a Turkish citizen imprisoned in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, is faced with extradition to Turkey due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of organizing a failed coup attempt on July, 15, 2016.

Harms, who will be in Georgia to participate in the 14th Batumi International Conference “Georgia’s European Way” between July 12 and 16, is going to visit Çabuk, who used to work as a teacher at a school established by Gülen movement supporters in Georgia.

The asylum applications of Çabuk and his family have been rejected by the Georgian authorities.

Harms will also meet with the lawyers and the wife of Çabuk as well as paying a visit to the school where he worked.

Çabuk was detained by police upon a request by the Turkish government. A Georgian court placed him under a three-month extradition arrest on May 25.

Last week, Harms called on the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to take the necessary action to stop countries from extraditing Gülen followers to Turkey.

Speaking during the general assembly of the EP, Harms said working in institutions such as schools or universities with links to the Gülen movement is not a crime and that, similarly, being critical of the government and being a critical journalist are not crimes.

In a similar development on May 31, eight nongovernmental organizations called on the Georgian government to refrain from returning the detained Turkish teacher to Turkey where “he will be possibly subjected to political persecution, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”

“[He] will have no access to a fair trial,” said a statement released by the Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC), Transparency International Georgia (TI), The Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI), Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), Georgian Democratic Initiative (GDI), Human Rights House Tbilisi (HRHT), International Society of Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and the Media Development Fund (MDF).

The military coup attempt on July 15 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’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that a total of 50,510 people have been arrested while 169,013 others have been the subject of legal proceedings since the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 on coup charges.

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