Veysel Akçay, the general director of schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in Mongolia, was abducted by agents of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) in front of his house in Ulan Bator on Friday morning, according to a report by online news outlet TR724.
A private plane was reportedly waiting at Ulan Bator Airport to transport Akçay to Turkey. Akçay, who has worked at educational institutions in Mongolia for 24 years, is reportedly one of the few Turkish nationals awarded the Mongolian Friendship Medal by the Mongolian state.
The Turkish government has been waging an all-out war against followers of the Gülen movement in Turkey and abroad over the past several years. The government accuses the movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt in July 2016 while the movement strongly denies any involvement.
According to a statement by the New York-based Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF), on Friday, at 9 a.m. local time, Akçay left his home for his workplace at the Empathy Worldwide Educational Institution. According to eyewitnesses and CCTV recordings, he was stopped by a minibus in front of his house and abducted by people working on behalf of MİT.
When his wife Meryem Akçay and his co-workers learned about the abduction, they called the local police and the national intelligence agency of Mongolia. The Mongolian police and intelligence revealed that they did not know about this incident and did not have any information about his abduction or deportation.
Akçay has four children. He works as general manager of the Empathy Worldwide Educational Institution, which runs the Turkish-Mongolia Schools (four high schools, one international school and one day care center) established by followers of the Gülen movement 25 years ago.
The JWF has made an urgent appeal for abducted Turkish national Akçay in Ulan Bator to Nils Melzer, United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Bernard Duhaime, UN chair-rapporteur for the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Seong-Phil Hong, chair-rapporteur for the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Koumbou Boly Barry, UN special rapporteur on the right to education; Felipe Gonzalez Morales, UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; and Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
MİT abducted Yusuf İnan and Salih Zeki Yiğit in Ukraine, and İsa Özdemir in Azerbaijan early in July. They were transported by MİT agents to İstanbul by private plane. MİT agents had abducted six teachers in Kosovo in March over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. In cooperation with Kosovar intelligence, MİT’s abduction of the teachers had sparked widespread debate and drew ire from around the world.
According to a statement made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, over 100 alleged members of the Gülen movement have been abducted by MİT agents abroad and brought back to Turkey as part of the Turkish government’s global manhunt.
“We have been watching these traitors for two years and have brought the leading figures of FETÖ to our country. Some of these cases were covered by the press, while others weren’t at the request of the countries involved. I can frankly say that more than 100 FETÖ-affiliated people have been brought to Turkey,” Çavuşoğlu said in an interview with Turkey’s pro-government CNN Türk.
“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to refer to the Gülen movement.
The military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed 249 people. Immediately after the abortive putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President 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. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.
The full text of the JWF’s letter to the UN authorities is as follow:
“We write to request urgent action from the United Nations regarding the abduction today, in the morning hours local time (9:00 am) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia of the Turkish national Mr.Veysel Akcay, a Turkish citizen living in Mongolia for 24 years. He is married to Ms. Meryem Akcay and together they have four children. Mr. Akcay works as the General Manager of the Empathy Worldwide Educational Institution, which is running the Turkish-Mongolia Schools (four high schools, one international school, one day care center) established by the Hizmet/Gulen Movement 25 years ago.
On Friday, July 27, 2018 at 9:00 am (local time in Mongolia), Mr. Veysel Akcay left his home to his workplace at the Empathy Worldwide Educational Institution.  According to eyewitnesses (CCTV recordings), he was stopped by a minibus in front of his house and abducted by people working on behalf of the Turkey’s Intelligence Service (MİT). When his spouse (Ms. Meryem Akcay) and his co-workers learned about the abduction, they called the local police and the national intelligence agency of Mongolia. The Mongolian police and intelligence revealed that they do not know about this incident and they do not have any information about his abduction or deportation.
The Journalists and Writers Foundation is gravely concerned on the fate of Mr. Veysel Akçay who is at risk of imminent deportation from Ulaanbaatar airport in Mongolia, as there is a Turkish Air plane scheduled to take off for Turkey in less than 2-hours.
The Journalists and Writers Foundation shares grave concerns on the fate of Mr. Akçay at risk of imminent illegal transfer to Turkey. We further note, with regret and utmost deal of concern, that the above individual is about to be transferred not only in defiance of relevant domestic law and international standards, but also without any consideration whatsoever on the pervasive climate of fear and repression and the real risk to his life and health in Turkey.
Any effort to forcibly deport Mr. Akcay to Turkey, or any other place where he faces torture, ill-treatment and a real risk to his life, violate the relevant obligations of Mongolia under its own legislation and international law, notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
We respectfully request, in accordance with your mandate, urgent action and your support during this critical time for Veysel Akçay under risk of imminent deportation to Turkey. Specifically, we request that the United Nations and the UNHCR assists in securing the release of Mr. Akçay and prevent his deportation to Turkey. We respectfully urge the OHCHR to take immediate action.
A copy of Mr. Akçay’s passport data page is herewith attached and the Journalist and Writers Foundation would welcome the opportunity to provide your offices with further information or to clarify any issues in relation to this communication.
[Turkish Minute with Stockholm Center for Freedom]