Kyrgyz school alumni offer $1 million reward for location of missing educator

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The alumni of a prestigious network of schools in Kyrgyzstan whose president went missing on the evening of May 31 and is feared to have been abducted by Turkey’s spy agency have offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the location of the missing educator.

Orhan İnandı, the founder and president of the Turkish-Kyrgyz Sapat school network operating in Kyrgyzstan, went missing in Bishkek and is feared to have been abducted by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Turkey claims the founder of the school network is Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, whose movement is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

İnandı’s alleged abduction by Turkey prompted many Kyrgyz including students and parents from the Sapat schools to stage protests, demanding the educator’s release. The protests mostly take place in front of the Turkish Embassy in Bishkek where İnandı is believed to be held. The alumni of the Sapat schools who also take part in the protests announced their offer of a reward on Friday during protests in front of the Kyrgyz Parliament.

“We alumni got together and made a decision. A reward of $1 million be given to whoever who finds Mr. İnandı,” one of the alumni announced.

Other alumni of the Sapat schools who live in Chicago also held demonstrations there protesting İnandı’s alleged abduction.

In the meantime, Askar Aitmatov, son of famous Kyrgyz writer Chinghiz Aitmatov and also a former foreign minister, joined the protestors in Bishkek on Friday and praised the contribution of the Sapat schools and their teachers to the country’s education.

“I am one of the people who first welcomed those teachers in my country. I am proud of the support I gave them. The Sapat educational institutions are the best schools in Kyrgyzstan. They offer quality education and have wonderful people. They have sacrificed themselves for this noble cause,” Aitmatov said.

The Sapat (formerly Sebat) network of educational institutions has been operating in Kyrgyzstan since 1992. The school network has been run by the Kyrgyz Republic since 2017. İnandı had been working in Kyrgyzstan since 1995 and had been president of the schools since 2001. He has been a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic since 2010.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based cleric Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

In a joint letter, UN rapporteurs accused the Turkish government of engaging in the systematic practice of state-sponsored extraterritorial abductions and forcible returns to Turkey, with at least 100 Turkish nationals from multiple states including Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Gabon, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and Pakistan removed to Turkey.

In a number of cases the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) concluded that the arrest, detention and forced transfer to Turkey of Turkish nationals were arbitrary and in violation of international human rights norms and standards.

A recent report by Freedom House on global transnational repression also revealed the intensity, geographic reach and suddenness of the Turkish government’s campaign targeting dissidents abroad, noting that Turkey has become number one among countries that have conducted renditions from host states since 2014.

According to the report, Ankara’s campaign has primarily targeted people affiliated with the Gülen movement, but the government has started applying the same tactics to Kurdish and leftist individuals living abroad.

The Freedom House report also indicated that the Turkish government has pursued its perceived enemies in at least 30 host countries spread across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia since the coup attempt.

According to recent official statements by its interior ministry, Turkey has sent 800 extradition requests to 105 countries since the attempt, and more than 110 alleged members of the movement have been brought back to Turkey as part of the government’s global campaign.

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