Some members of the European Parliament have strongly condemned the Supreme Court of Pakistan for a ruling in December recognizing former staff members of Pakistan-based Turkish schools run by followers of the Gülen movement as “terrorists,” Euronews reported on Friday.
In a letter to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, a number of EP members expressed dismay over the court ruling against the Pak Turk International Çağ Educational Foundation (ICEF) and its personnel. The top Pakistani court labeled the foundation as a “terrorist organization” in a ruling on Dec. 13 after facing persistent pressure from Ankara to do so.
In its decision the court ruled that since Turkey designates the ICEF and institutions affiliated with it as “terrorist groups,” Pakistan must also recognize them as such in line with its international obligations.
The EP members said the Pakistani court’s ruling was politically motivated.
“As a result, we were informed by several reliable sources and human rights organizations that these schools and their staff have been under extreme pressure in Pakistan due to the political spillover of the current political developments in Turkey.”
The recent decision against the ICEF, the European lawmakers asserted, had sparked concern among the parliamentarians. Furthermore, lawmakers who put their name on the letter stated that they sensed some political influence over the legal process.
“The circumstances in which the Supreme Court took the mentioned decision,” the letter added, “demonstrated that the Turkish authorities had been involved in this politically motivated process.”
The Turkish government has been carrying out a massive crackdown on Gülen movement followers in Turkey and abroad over the past several years which culminated with a failed coup attempt in July 2016.
The Turkish government holds the movement responsible for the failed coup, while the movement strongly denies any involvement.
“These schools and their staff proved themselves to be of major importance, contributing to education and social co-existence in Pakistan and in many European countries,” the lawmakers stated in the letter, adding, “Therefore, we believe that these education institutions should not be subject to any form of legal decision, which is politically motivated at the request by the Turkish government and its authorities.”
The EU letter, in its conclusion, called on Pakistani authorities to ensure the safety of Turkish educators sought by Ankara. “We, therefore, urge you and the EEAS, notably through the EU Delegation to Pakistan, to use all the means at your disposal to ensure a safe atmosphere for Pak-Turk International Cag Education Foundation and its staff.” It remains to be seen whether Pakistan abides by international norms and the EU call or sides with Ankara.
Signatories of the letter included Ana Gomes, Alyn Smith, Alessia Mosca, Rebecca Harms, Nessa Childers, Margrete Auken, Bart Staes, Julie Ward, Patricia Lalonde and Eva Kaili.