Amnesty calls on Turkey to act over alleged enforced disappearances

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Turkey must answer calls to action on alleged enforced disappearances, a campaigner from Amnesty International said on Monday, Deutsche Welle Turkish edition reported, citing the German dpa news agency.

Milena Büyüm from Amnesty International told dpa that governments have an obligation to investigate alleged cases of enforced disappearance.

According to the United Nations definition, enforced disappearance is the deprivation of liberty against the will of a person through the involvement of government officials, at least by acquiescence. 

The government, by the UN definition, refuses to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person. This removes a person from the protection of the law, Büyüm said.

Turkey had not signed a corresponding UN convention but is bound by the ban on enforced disappearance and is obliged to provide information on alleged cases of enforced disappearance, a crime under international law.

People had “disappeared” in Turkey’s majority Kurdish areas during the 1980s and ’90s, but the practice that was long gone has reappeared since an attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016, Büyüm said according to the Frankfurter Rundschau news website.

Amnesty on Feb. 1 called on Turkey to investigate the whereabouts of Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit, a former public servant who went missing on Dec. 29, according to his daughter.

In a model letter provided by Amnesty for public use, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office is asked to ensure a prompt, impartial and independent investigation to determine the whereabouts of Küçüközyiğit and the circumstances of his suspected enforced disappearance.

“Any information relating to his location and wellbeing must urgently be shared with his family. I also urge you to ensure that all those suspected of criminal responsibility are brought to justice in fair trials,” said the model letter posted by Amnesty, which asked people to write an appeal letter in their own words or to use the model letter to help find the missing bureaucrat.

Küçüközyiğit was one of some 130,000 people purged from the civil service after an abortive military coup in July 2016 for their purported ties to the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of having orchestrated the failed putsch.

Nursena, Hüseyin’s daughter, says her father was unemployed for a long time after being expelled from the civil service and was held in detention for six months for his alleged Gülen links. After he was released, he set up a business to offer legal advice to other purged public sector workers, which Nursena believes might have been the reason her father was abducted.

Dozens of enforced disappearances have been reported in Turkey since the failed coup in 2016.

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