Newly obtained documents reveal that Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, then-General Director of Security and current lawmaker from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Selami Altınok and then-Interior Ministry undersecretary and current member of Turkey’s Constitutional Court Muhterem İnce signed an order to rendition a Turkish radiologist and his family, who were under UN protection at the time, to Turkey from Bahrain in 2016, as part of a crackdown that followed a failed putsch in the country.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government declared a state of emergency following an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that remained in effect until July 19, 2018. During the state of emergency the AKP carried out a purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight by issuing a number of government decrees purging 130,000 civil servants from their jobs due to their real or alleged connections to “terrorist organizations.”
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of others had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.
Dr. Murat Acar, a professor of radiology, and his family had sought asylum in Bahrain after their passports were cancelled in a mass campaign led by Turkey’s Interior Ministry following the failed coup. Despite being under UN protection, the Bahraini police raided their home and handed them over to Turkish police.
According to documents obtained by Turkish Minute, Soylu, İnce and Altınok signed a document on October 5, 2016 in which they assigned two police officers — Tamer Azem Arslan and Ahmet Hakan Çalışkan — to bring the Acar family back to Turkey.
Dr. Acar and his wife were accused without evidence of membership in a terrorist organization and were reportedly subjected to torture and prolonged detention in Turkey. They eventually fled to Canada as refugees. It has been almost seven years since the ordeal, and no one has been held responsible for the crimes committed against the Acar family.
In addition to Altınok, İnce and Soylu, the documents obtained by Turkish Minute also implicate public prosecutor Alpaslan Karabay in the ordeal of the Acar family. Karabay was the official who initiated the investigation into them, requested and executed the arrest warrants and carried out detention procedures.
Various documents signed by Karabay dated October 13, 2016, October 19, 2016 and October 25, 2016 show that Karabay was the person who ordered the extension of the detention of Mr. and Mrs Acar.
Karabay has a notorious record. As reported by Nordic Monitor in June 2021, Karabay was implicated in the brutal torture and detention of Gürsel Aktepe, the deputy chief of the intelligence unit at the Security General Directorate, who was jailed for campaigning against the politicization of Turkey’s main law enforcement agency. Karabay falsified his statement and included it as evidence against Aktepe.
In a separate incident, Karabay pressured another detainee, Maj. Deniz Aldemir, to confess by threatening to harm his wife and children.
The revelations come as Turkey prepares for upcoming elections on May 14, and human rights groups are calling for accountability for those responsible for the ordeal of many people whose rights were violated like the Acars. Critics and legal experts claim that impunity has become the norm for cases concerning Turkish officials involved in human rights violations.