In a pattern of transnational repression, the Turkish government is continuing its persecution of the Hizmet Movement: the latest victim being an educator, Mr Orhan İnandı.
To date, there have been over 100 international abductions of Hizmet-affiliated individuals from around the world.
The Inandi Case
Inandi both founded and worked as an educator for Gülen-inspired schools for over 25 years in Kyrgyzstan in the Sapat International Education Institution. The educational network includes primary and secondary schools, as well as a university, and has won several academic awards both domestically and internationally.
On 31st May, after he was unresponsive to her messages on WhatsApp, Mrs Inandi began to worry about her husband’s whereabouts. With assistance from some friends, she was able to locate his car close to their home with his phone inside and a punctured tire. Initially, there was confusion as to Inandi’s location, with fears he had been abducted by organised crime or private individuals on behalf of the Turkish government, to be transferred to Turkey. As an affiliate of the Hizmet Movement, it is likely that he would then have faced torture and imprisonment on bogus terror claims.
However, recent evidence has placed Mr Inandi in the Turkish embassy in Bishkek. Mrs Inandi has released a statement suggesting that her husband is being tortured into signing documents to denounce his Kyrgyz citizenship. After this, they would be able to transfer him to Turkey. The identity of the source is being kept hidden to protect them.
Now images have emerged of a health worker entering the Turkish embassy, suggesting, if not confirming, Inandi’s presence in the embassy. However, President Erdogan has supposedly informed Kyrgyz President Japarov that he has no information about the location or condition of Inandi.
What does this mean?
- Turkey’s AKP regime has been systematically using a variety of methods to target Hizmet participants outside Turkey and return them to Turkey by any means. This process has been continuing apace since the 2016 coup-attempt in Turkey; specialists on this topic have referred to this as ‘transnational repression’.
- So far, more than a hundred Hizmet-linked Turkish nationals have been taken back to Turkey by intelligence service operations in coordination with countries such as Kosovo, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Gabon, Kenya and Myanmar. It seems that the main factors dictating the ease with which the Turkish government conducts the abductions are its links with organised crime and the level of cooperation or at least lack of resistance from the state concerned.
- Individuals who have been returned to Turkey are not necessarily in positions of leadership within the Hizmet Movement; for instance, the last abduction case before İnandı was of Salahattin Gülen, the nephew of Fethullah Gülen who was a teacher in Kenya.
- Stockholm Center for Freedom has documented a rising number of abductions and enforced disappearances of the Erdogan regime’s critics by the Turkish government. Most of the victims are believed to be Hizmet affiliates.
- Freedom House has documented the phenomenon of transnational repression within the context of Turkish state practices in its recent 2021 specialist report, saying, ‘the Turkish state’s current campaign of transnational repression is remarkable for its intensity, its geographic reach, and the suddenness with which it escalated.’
Protests and vigils in Kyrgyzstan and across Europe
Iysha Arun, Co-director of the Centre for Hizmet Studies, said:
Aside from the devastating human impact of such targeted oppression, the extent to which, in Erdogan’s Turkey, a domestic hatred of a fictional terror organisation has become a hegemonic idea for foreign policy is increasingly worrying. Global peace is dependent on states adhering to international conventions, which Turkey is violating time and time again, through abductions and partnerships with organised crime.
The international community must take seriously the actions of Turkey, once a beacon of hope for the Muslim world and a key to the Middle East, when it targets those affiliated with the Hizmet Movement both within Turkey and abroad and must act accordingly. Downgrading the status of human rights for affiliates of the Movement will both damage prospects of a successful Turkish state and a healthy international community. Neglect of international conventions will simply prop up another authoritarian, crime-riddled state.
Dr Ismail Sezgin, Director of the Centre for Hizmet Studies, said:
I believe every case of kidnapping that goes unchallenged and unresolved will encourage other authoritarian regimes to adopt another form of illegal oppression of their critics. The Orhan İnandı case can be a turning point for Turkish illegal rendition cases. The international community must react promptly so that this case does not become another Khashoggi incident. I hope a strong reaction will deter Erdogan and his regime from further crimes.
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