At least 1,388 people have been victims of enforced disappearance in Turkey in the last 40 years, with most of the cases taking place between 1980 and 2001, Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD) has said in a public statement, Voice of America’s Turkish edition reported on Monday.
The statement was read by İHD Diyarbakır branch chairman Abdullah Zeytun and Fırat Akdeniz, a member of İHD Commission for the Missing, on Monday.
“At least 1,388 people in Turkey have been forcibly disappeared by law enforcement officers and paramilitary forces linked to them since 1980. … Of course, we know that the real number of such cases is much bigger. In addition, thousands of politically motivated murders committed in the same period have remained unsolved,” Akdeniz said.
“We want to say that the perpetrators of such crimes [of enforced disappearances] haven’t been effectively prosecuted, that they are still being protected [by the government] and in the rare cases launched against them, they have always been rewarded with impunity,” Zeytun underlined.
The association’s demands include Turkey’s ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CPED), which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in late 2006, and the forming of a “committee for facing the past and investigating the truth” in parliament.
During the 1980s and ’90s, many people “disappeared” in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish areas. The practice had been long gone until it reappeared in the wake of an attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that claimed the lives of 251 people on July 15, 2016.
Dozens of enforced disappearances have been reported in Turkey since the abortive putsch, with more than 20 of the victims reporting, after they were found, that they were subjected to torture during the time they were “missing.”
The victims of those enforced disappearance cases were mostly alleged followers of the Gülen movement, which is inspired by the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen and targeted by the president since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government also labels the faith-based group as a terrorist organization and accuses them of masterminding the attempted coup, despite both Gülen and his followers’ strong denial of involvement in the abortive putsch or in any terrorist activities.