Erdogan government on spot

UN Human Rights Committee orders Turkish government to release and compensate wrongly held Gulen-related detainees.

Erdogan government on spot

UN Human Rights Committee orders Turkish government to release and compensate wrongly held Gulen-related detainees.

30 May 2019 Thursday 15:52
Erdogan government on spot

Azaniapost/Reuters/ Agencies
Turkish government under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been put on spot by the UN Human Rights Committee for wanton arbitrary arrests of people suspected to have links with US-Based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen and ordered to free and compensate them.

When close to 80,000 people have been jailed pending trial, the UN order is pegged on a case whereby one academic and school principal were deported from Malaysia to Turkey where they were accused of having ties with the network of Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania for two decades.

Hitting media columns and air waves headlines such as “Free and Compensate Gulen-linked Detainees”, the UN order says it categorically that Turkey must release the two men -- academic Ismet Ozcelik and school principal Turgay Karaman -- detained over suspected links to a cleric blamed for the 2016 coup attempt and pay them compensation for arbitrary detention.

It said freedoms of the two Turkish men had been violated.  Lacking in any enforcement authority, the Committee still gave Turkish authorities 180 days to comply with its ruling.  

"The State party is obligated ... to release the authors (of the complaint) and provide them with adequate compensation for the violations suffered," the committee's report on the case said, noting that Turkey's membership of an international rights covenant required it to act and provide "effective remedy".

Turkey had sought an exemption due to its state of emergency and the "serious and complex" nature of the pair's alleged crimes, but the committee rejected that, saying it failed to explain how they posed a threat.

Ozcelik and Karaman had lived in Malaysia for 13 years during which the latter was the head of Time International School, an institution inspired by Gulen's teachings. His Hizmet movement runs some 2,000 educational establishments worldwide.

Since the 2016 coup attempt, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has jailed more than 77,000 people and widespread arrests are still an order of the day in a crackdown critics say demonstrates growing autocracy in Turkey.

It has also demanded the extradition of various people suspected of links to Gulen's network. While some countries, including Kosovo and Pakistan as well as Malaysia, have complied, others have refused.

Last year, six Turkish nationals were arrested and deported from Kosovo at Ankara's request, in a move that led to Kosovo's prime minister sacking his interior minister. In Pakistan, authorities deported a former director of a chain of private Turkish schools and his family to Turkey over alleged Gulen links. 

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