NGO report sheds light on Turkey’s enforced disappearances

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Black vans has become the symbols of the abduction and disappearance in Turkey's post-coup crackdown targeting the Gülen movement.

Solidarity with OTHERS, a Brussels-based human rights group, on Tuesday released a report on allegations of enforced disappearance in Turkey since 2016.

The report, titled “Enforced Disappearances: Turkey’s Open Secret,” provided a case-by-case analysis of the 25 incidents that were reported over the past four years, noting that most of the allegedly abducted individuals had perceived or imputed affiliations to the faith-based Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016.

Some of the alleged victims resurfaced, often in police custody, while others never reappeared. The report also included testimony from several people who claimed to have been abducted by state agents and taken to secret detention facilities where they were unlawfully interrogated by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

The victims, many of them public sector workers removed from their jobs over purported Gülen links, also revealed that they were coerced into signing self-incriminating statements.

Seven people were reported missing in 2019, six of them disappearing in February. Former Ministry of Industry employee Yusuf Bilge Tunç, who was reported missing in August, remains unaccounted for.

The report said the allegations point to a possible comeback of disappearances led by security forces in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast during the 1980s and ’90s, at the height of the armed conflict between the military and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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