Erdoğan’s admission of Turkish-Kyrgyz educator’s rendition sparks outrage

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Turkish dissidents, members of the European Parliament and prominent rights activists around the globe have condemned Ankara over the rendition of Turkish-Kyrgyz educator Orhan İnandı, who went missing in Bishkek on May 31 and was feared to have been abducted by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), questioning Kyrgyz authorities’ role in the incident.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday acknowledged that İnandı, the founder and president of the Turkish-Kyrgyz Sapat school network operating in Kyrgyzstan, was actually abducted by Turkish spies and brought to Turkey, praising their efforts in the rendition.

Erdoğan also confirmed that more than 100 others, in addition to İnandı, had been rendered to Turkey from various countries due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. The movement is labeled as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government and accused of masterminding a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016. Both Gülen and his followers strongly deny any involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Former Green member of the European Parliament Rebecca Harms tweeted that the international community and civil society couldn’t tolerate such illegal renditions.

“Did Sadyr Japarov sell him [İnandı] out? Did Kyrgyz security agencies help Ankara?” Matthew Kupfer, a regional editor at the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), asked on Twitter.

“During a state visit to Ankara in June, Japarov asked Erdoğan about İnandi. According to Japarov’s spox, Erdoğan said that ‘he doesn’t know him, doesn’t have any information.’ … Well, he clearly knew something. Turkey kidnapped İnandi, a Kyrgyz citizen, in the latest illegal ‘extradition’ of alleged Gülen supporters. Erdoğan lied to Japarov. How will Kyrgyzstan respond to this?” he added.

Referring to İnandı’s rendition to Turkey, Nate Schenkkan, director of research strategy at Freedom House, said Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government was “engaged in an overt, unapologetic, international kidnapping campaign.”

“Japarov was a convicted accomplice to kidnapping before coming to power, but habits are hard to kick, so he just abetted another kidnapping. … Turkey kidnapped a Kyrgyz national in Kyrgyzstan, and the Kyrgyz government appears to have allowed it to happen,” Central Asia Editor for Eurasianet Peter Leonard argued.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), allowing İnandı’s rendition to Turkey would violate Kyrgyzstan’s obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which it ratified in 1997.

“Weeks after denying having ever heard of İnandi, Erdoğan confirms what everyone suspected,” Catherine Putz, managing editor of The Diplomat, a current affairs publication focused on Asia, noted.”Were Kyrgyz authorities aware/complicit in the snatching of a Kyrgyz citizen [İnandi] … from the capital? If yes, that’s bad. If no, also very bad,” she added.

“This adds one more illegal rendition to the list,” Solidarity with OTHERS, a nongovernmental organization that mainly consists of political exiles from Turkey, on Monday said, calling upon the international community and civil society to help end such renditions.

The group also claimed, based on the state-run Anadolu news agency’s video of İnandı with a Turkish flag on either side while covering his rendition on Monday, that the educator had been exposed to torture.

“Most visibly, his right arm is most probably broken. … Notice his right hand, how he cannot hold it up… It is swollen and the skin is darker. A clear sign of torture,” the organization said in a tweet.

Turkish lawyer Vural Ergül described the rendition of İnandı to Turkey as “a complete fiasco.” The lawyer argued in a series of tweets that the abduction of İnandı by MİT would have very serious consequences for Ankara under international law since the educator also holds Kyrgyz citizenship.

“There can be no source of terror more terrifying than the governments that say they are fighting terrorism and decide themselves what terrorism is. There can be no greater [act of] terror than associating an educator who has been living in Kyrgyzstan for 20 years with terror and then kidnapping him,” Nurullah Albayrak, a rights advocate lawyer living in exile, said under the hashtag #ErdoganKidnappedEducator.

Foreign ministry should take action on İnandı’s rendition, Kyrgyz MPs say

Aida Kasymalieva, vice speaker of the Kyrgyz Parliament, was quoted by Turkish media as saying that the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs should not remain silent in the face of İnandı’s rendition since he is also a Kyrgyz citizen and the government is responsible for the protection of all its citizens.

The MP added that İnandı’s rendition was a matter of honor and sovereignty for the Kyrgyz Republic and that they would demand an investigation by international organizations and experts.

Dastan Bekeshev, another Kyrgyz MP, indicated that the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry should immediately take action vis-a-vis the rendition since it was the Kyrgyz government’s negligence that led to the educator’s rendition to Turkey.

Bekeshev also criticized the Kyrgyz intelligence service for failing to prevent İnandı’s abduction by Turkish spies.

Erdoğan, who has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members, and his inner circle, intensified the crackdown on the group following an abortive putsch in July 2016.

According to the latest information provided by Turkish officials, 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. There are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the Gülen movement, the official data indicate.

The AKP government also removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt while scores of others had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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