A group of students, teachers and executives from PakTurk schools in Islamabad on Thursday called on Pakistan government to provide information about a Turkish family abducted in Lahore on Wednesday, amid fears they were targeted for allegedly having ties to Gülen movement that Ankara blames for last year’s coup attempt in Turkey.
In a press conference at National Press Club in İslamabad on Thursday, a colleague of Mesut Kaçmaz, who was abducted along with his family from his Lahore home earl on Wednesday morning, urged Pakistan government to provide information on the incident asking whether they were detained by a Pakistan state security agency.
Several students gathered in front of a courthouse in İslamabad and chanted slogans on support of Kaçmaz family. Students carried placards saying “We want Kaçmaz family back”, “Turkish lives matter” and several others in Turkish and Urdu.
Kaçmaz was a principal at a private school in Lahore and former vice-president of PakTurk Schools that was linked to the Gülen movement, which Turkey blames for a failed coup last year.
Speaking to media in front of the courthouse before petitioning to a court on behalf of the missing family, PakTurk schools lawyer Asma Gilani said “We are pressing them (Pakistan officials) to make every effort to recover the missing family as early as possible.”
“This situation has sparked panic and uncertainty among other Turkish families living in Pakistan especially in Lahore,” she added.
Kaçmaz and his family were allowed to stay one year in Lahore upon receiving an asylum certificate from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Fatih Avcı, who was released after being abducted on Wednesday along with Kaçmaz, his wife and two daughters, by unidentified people, said he is concerned about their safety as there is no clear information as to who abducted them.
In a video message on Thursday, Avcı said there has been no news from the Kaçmaz family despite the fact that they informed Pakistani police about the incident.
“They were abducted by unidentified people, we don’t know whether they were state officials, police, intelligence officers or mafia. We are really concerned for their lives.” he said.
Avcı said he woke up to a huge noise coming from his ground floor neighbor’s flat in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“When I went downstairs, I saw 10 to 15 unidentified people in civilian clothes, five to six of them women, trying to take my neighbor Mesut Kaçmaz and his family, with two daughters, outside their flat by force. I intervened in order to stop them. And subsequently we were taken out of the building. There were unidentified armed people in plain clothes waiting near a vehicle outside. We were put in the vehicle by force, blindfolded, a sack put over our heads and handcuffed,” he explained in the video.
Ankara had asked Pakistan in August to close down institutions run by Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Turkish Islamic scholar accused of masterminding the botched coup attempt last July. Gülen, whose views inspired the Gülen movement, which runs a network of schools, charity organizations and foundations around the world, strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt.
In Pakistan, the Gülen movement runs a network of schools and the Rumi Forum, an intellectual and intercultural dialogue platform, in addition to having business interests. Gülen-linked organizations and businesses have been operating in Pakistan for decades.
Since the eruption of a corruption investigation in late 2013 in which senior members of the Turkish government were involved, Erdoğan has been waging an all-out war against the movement. All Gülen-linked schools, organizations and foundations were closed down in Turkey after the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Erdoğan is also exerting pressure on other countries to close down Gülen schools operating within their borders.