Turkey has accused the UN of being manipulated by terrorist groups.
The accusation comes after the United Nations Human Rights Office sent a letter to Turkey demanding information on what it said appeared to be cases of “state-sponsored extraterritorial abductions.”
The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) and three special rapporteurs wrote the joint letter addressed to the Turkish Government on May 5.
The letter, which has since been publicized, claims Turkey’s government “is reported to have forcibly transferred over 100 Turkish nationals to Turkey, of which 40 individuals have been subjected to enforced disappearance, mostly abducted off the streets or from their homes all over the world, and in multiple instances along with their children.”
However, Turkey’s envoy to the UN Office in Geneva responded to the letter, saying that allegations were “the strategy of FETO [acronym referring to the Gulen movement as a terrorist organization] presenting itself as the victim of human rights violations to hide its crimes. Its members deliberately try to deceive and manipulate international public opinion by spreading false allegations against Turkey”.
He went further to urge the UN not to allow itself to be abused by FETO.
“Turkey requests the Special Procedures not to allow FETO and its members to abuse these mechanisms and to dismiss their allegations.”
Ankara accused the Gulen movement, led by the exiled US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, of organizing the failed coup of July 2016.
Gulen and his followers have denied the allegations, however, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan vowed to avenge the coup bid, which prompted an exodus of tens of thousands of people, including Gulenists, from Turkey.
“We will return to the country one by one, those Gulenists who fled and now think they’re safe, and we will hand them over to our justice system,” Erdogan vowed after the coup bid.
In the aftermath of the failed coup, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government launched a crackdown that resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being detained. Media outlets, businesses, schools, and NGOs alike that did not toe the AKP government line were shut down.
And amid the continuing crackdown, many allegations of torture and enforced disappearances committed by Turkish security forces both in the country and abroad surfaced.
The letter of the UN working group delved into eight cases involving 16 individuals and claimed that Turkish authorities “resort to covert operations, in cooperation with law enforcement agencies from the third countries,” when they fail to achieve the extradition through legal means.
According to the joint letter, victims remain forcibly disappeared “for up to several weeks in secret or incommunicado detention before deportation.”
The rapporteurs cited allegations of “coercion, torture and degrading treatment aimed at obtaining their consent on voluntary return,” and also referred to the same acts aimed at “extracting confessions that would inform criminal prosecution upon arrival in Turkey.”
“At this stage, individuals are denied access to medical care and legal representation and are unable to challenge the lawfulness of detention before a competent court, effectively placing them outside the protection of the law. Their family members are unaware of their fate and whereabouts,” the letter read.
The letter also detailed alleged abuse by Turkish intelligence agents: “food and sleep deprivation, beatings, waterboarding, and electric shocks, threats against lives, security, and personal integrity of family members and relatives.”
In December 2018, Correctiv, a Germany-based organization promoting investigative journalism, published findings of a research on the kidnapping program of the Turkish intelligence service, MIT.
Dubbed #blacksitesturkey, the report details the extent of MIT’s international hijacking program, targeting Gulen movement supporters.
According to the research findings, published on December 11, 2018, MIT does not only hijack alleged Gulenists from abroad but also kidnaps them in Turkey to be taken to extrajudicial detainment centers dubbed Black Sites by the researchers.
The research extensively covers the kidnapping incidents from Kosovo and Malaysia with the accounts of eyewitnesses.
Turkey has claimed that all abductions of its nationals were carried out in terms of international norms and bilateral agreements.
Turkey’s envoy to the UN said in his reply that the claims of abductions “are based on unfounded claims” which have “the sole objective of conducting a smear campaign by Feto against Turkey.”
“So-called ‘abduction from different countries’ are in real situations where third countries decided to deport members of FETO because they considered them as threats to their national security.”
However, in one case, where Turkey claims that extradition was carried out legally, Kosovo’s interior minister and secret service chief were sacked.