The Rights Initiative (Hak İnisiyatifi) issued a report on 28 disappearances which are known as Black Transporter incidents. The report paid attention to the tortures and the silence of the government.
BOLD – The Rights Initiative Association in Ankara published an investigation and research report on illegal detentions that were held by public officials since 2016.
The report included the cases of abductions which were supposedly done by public servants since the state of emergency declared after July 15, interviews with the relatives of the missing people, the question proposals given to the TGNA on the subject, the claims submitted to the case files and information obtained from open internet sources.
PUBLIC SERVANTS IN CIVILIAN CLOTHING
In the report, there were allegations that a total of 22 people were illegally abducted before February 2019. There was also information about the people who were allegedly kidnapped and detained, Mustafa Özgür Gültekin, Zabit Kişi, and Ayten Öztürk who stated the details of tortures during their detention on their defenses in judicial processes.
The report stated that in February 2019, a total of six people were illegally detained, and it was emphasized that they were still missing.
The information in the report was obtained by interviewing first-degree relatives and lawyers of those detained after February 2019, It was claimed that: “Yasin Ugan and Özgür Kaya were detained with an operation in front of civilians in the house they live by a team of several people, like Mustafa Yılmaz who was on his way to work in front of his house. Salim Zeybek’s wife Fatma Betül Zeybek also expressed that, his husband was detained by armed persons after a chase while she and her husband were in a vehicle, including their children. The same people transported her to Ankara”
PERPETRATORS SHOULD BE REVEALED AND PUNISHED
By addressing the governors of the state, the report requested, “to investigate these allegations by the public authority, to inform the public about these allegations, to take action for the immediate elimination of violations and punishment of perpetrators if these allegations are correct.”
16 PEOPLE WERE DETAINED IN ANKARA
Some of the findings in the report were as follows: As previously mentioned, it was alleged that a total of 28 people were illegally detained by persons who identified themselves as public servants since 2016.
It was considered that 26 of the 28 people were the supporters of the Gulen Movement and at least 16 of them were allegedly detained in Ankara. On the other hand, in cases of alleged unlawful detentions since 2016, it was often stated that Volkswagen Transporter vehicles were frequently used just like the reminiscent of Toros vehicles in the 1990s.
ABDUCTIONS ARE TORTURED
The court defense of Ayten Öztürk who is the only woman among the abductees had also wide coverage in the report. It had excerpts from the Ozturk’s court defense which state that she was subjected to falanga, sexual harassment, burning her body, dehydration in a period of 6 months. The report asserted that all abductees were similarly tortured too.
The report noted the following on the allegations of forced abductions and detentions: “In particular, the narrative of the persons interviewed by our association on these allegations is sufficiently detailed and consistent with other narratives.
If these claims are true; it is necessary to mention that rights and principles which are accepted both in international human rights texts and in the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey like freedom and security of person, prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, right to a fair trial and presumption of innocence, in some cases in particular the right to life seriously violated.
Regardless of the alleged offense, everyone can only be detained, questioned, tried and punished under the law. If various organs of the state apply some solutions to bypass legal procedures to overcome some difficulties, they create terrible problems that cannot be compensated and they are never acceptable.”
The report stresses that: “The fate of 28 people who were forcibly disappeared is different from each other and there is no satisfactory information available. Some of them are still missing, some of them are prisoners in jail, and some may have gone abroad after being released”
THE NAMES OF THE MISSING PERSONS
The names of the missing persons before February 2019 and the dates of their disappearance are as follows:
Sunay Elmas (27 January 2016), Ayhan Oran (1 November 2016). Mustafa Özgür Gültekin (21 December 2016), Durmuş Ali Çetin (17 May 2017), Hüseyin Badce (28 February 2017), Mesut Geçer (26 March 2017), Turgut Çapan (31 March 2017), Önder Asan (1 April 2017) Cengiz Master (4 April 2017), Mustafa Özben (9 May 2017), Fatih Kılıç (14 May 2017), Cemil Koçak (5 June 2017), Murat Okumuş (16 June 2017), Enver Kılıç (30 September 2017), Officer (30 September 2017) 30 September 2017), Hıdır Çelik (6 December 2017), Ümit Horzum (6 December 2017), Ayten Öztürk (13 March 2018), Orcun Şenyücel (21 April 2018), Hasan Kala (20 July 2018), Fahri Mert (12 August) 2018), Ahmet Ertürk (16 November 2018)
The missing persons after February 2019 and the dates of their disappearance: Gökhan Türkmen (7 February 2019), Yasin Ugan (12 February 2019), Özgür Kaya (12 February 2019), Erkan Irmak (16 February 2019), Mustafa Yılmaz (18 February 2019), Salim Zeybek (20 February 2019)
Were the Hizmet Movement schools successful?
After Ismail Saymaz posted in his twitter account that the Gülen Movement schools could not train scientists, a debate started. Was that the case? Let’s check some of the results from the records of the international science olympiads.
MUHAMMET ALİ TOKSOY
Journalist İsmail Saymaz expressed his admiration by sharing photos from a school he visited in Switzerland, and said, “Why are these schools not in our country”?
Journalist Adem Yavuz Arslan mentioned in his reply to İsmail Saymaz’s tweet that there were hundreds of such schools in Turkey, but they were illegally seized after the state of emergency and converted into Religious Vocational High Schools (Imam-Hatip schools), and Ismail Saymaz cheered this action.
Writing in response to Adem Yavuz Arslan’s tweet, İsmail Saymaz replied that there were no scientists graduated from the schools run by the Gülen Movement.
But were the Gülen Movement schools really unsuccessful? Could they not exist in the scientific field? Or were they successful by obtaining questions beforehand, as İsmail Saymaz argued?
Gülen Movement schools were highly rated schools in Turkey before the State of Emergency. To understand the success degree of the Gülen Movement schools, we shall analyze their international achievements rather than local ones as they will reflect more objective results.
Even though it is rarely found to have “scientists” in the high schools, except for the extreme cases, high schools are the places where future scientists are discovered, encouraged, and provided with the necessary fundamental education.
The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) is responsible for exploring the future scientists in Turkey and TÜBİTAK carries out this by organizing the National Science Olympics. Gülen Movement Schools have thousands of medals at TÜBİTAK National Science Olympiad throughout the years; however, since Ismail Saymaz can attribute these great achievements to the claim of ‘stealing questions,’ stressing out the International Science Olympiads can provide neutral results.
Longing for international medals
The first International Science Olympiad was held in Romania in 1959. Having an international delegation, The Science Olympiads are held in different countries every year. Participating in the Science Olympiads since the end of the 1970s, Turkey could obtain only a small number of bronze and silver medals. On the other hand, the “gold medal” could not be reached. When the calendars showed the year 1993, Salih Adem studying at Yamanlar College brought the first “gold medal” to Turkey in the physics area in Turkey in International Science Olympiads. Since this success was precious, Science and Technical Journal published by TÜBİTAK monthly had the photo of the student on its cover page, and TÜBİTAK allocated a large space in its journal to his school. Let us remind you that Yamanlar was shut down with a Decree-Law.
With this Gold Medal, students had more self-confidence. The next year, a student from Yamanlar College repeated the same success, and Turkey achieved its second gold medal.
A student from Istanbul Fatih College brought Turkey’s first gold medal at the International Biology Olympiad in 1996, which was organized in Ukraine.
Another success took place for the first time in 1997 summer. Salih Özçubukçu, a student from Izmir Yamanlar College, achieved the first gold medal at the International Chemistry Olympiad in Canada, and this medal was also the first international gold medal in chemistry in Turkey.
When the calendars showed the year 1999, Gülen Movement Schools achieved another great success. The 41st International Mathematics Olympiad awarded Mehmet Bumin Yenmez with a gold medal, and he was also a student of the Yamanlar College. This medal was also the first gold medal for Turkey in this area, and thus 40 years of longing ended.
Another student, studying at Ankara Samanyolu College brought the second Gold Medal to Turkey at the International Computer Olympiad.
After the arrival of the first gold medals for Turkey in International Science Olympiad, perhaps there was only one missing thing in this area. Only male students achieved all the Gold Medals obtained at the Olympics until 2006. Hande Boyacı made Turkey proud for the first time by getting the gold medal in the International Science Olympiad in 2006. The “Golden Girl” who brought the gold medal in chemistry to Turkey was a Yamanlar College student.
Accustoming Turkey to Gold Medals after the first gold medals in every field, with their systematic and planned studies, almost all of the students in the Science National Team participated in the International Olympiad started to return to Turkey with medals. Until 2016, when schools were unjustly closed down, approximately 90% of nearly 500 medals in International Olympiads were brought to Turkey by the students studying in Hizmet Movement schools.
Today, hundreds of students who graduated from Hizmet Movement schools not only work at the best universities in the world, like MIT, but also they work in prominent institutions, like Silicon Valley, NASA, or Microsoft.
Gülen Movement’s educational activities had long been under pressure in Turkey. Schools were under strict control with hundreds of inspectors when Turkey returned from the brink of the military coup on February 28, 1997. Mr. Gülen stated in 1998 that schools are extremely important for Turkey, and if the government wishes to continue high-standard education, instead of closing them down, he can request the school owners to handover the schools to the state.
Erdogan has targeted the educational activities of the Gülen Movement since 2012. First of all, the preparatory schools were shut down, and many schools were confiscated through the appointment of trustees. In the state of emergency, which was declared after July 15, 2016, all schools were closed down. Most of the schools were converted to Religious Vocational High School (Imam Hatip).
No more such news
Local and international media reported on the outstanding achievements of high schools such as Yamanlar, Fatih, Samanyolu for their different Science Olympiads successes. The news of gold medals is no longer common in Turkish media after Gülen Movement schools were closed down.
NATO might face an existential crisis over Turkey
Unearthed information on NATO-Turkey relations makes NATO Summit, to be held in London on 3-4 December, all the more critical.
The Turkish Air Force did a test for S-400 systems with F-16 fighters in Ankara on Monday. President Erdoğan said the S-400 issue would be discussed at the NATO level as a result of concord with the US President Trump.
An anonymous Turkish diplomat gave a statement to the Reuters, stressing that if the Alliance does not accept Turkey’s stance toward the YPG and designate YPG as a terrorist organization in the summit declaration, Turkey would veto the NATO defense plan for the Baltics and Poland.
Decisions are made by consensus in NATO. If a country vetoes the resolution, the decision cannot be implemented. After Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014, the Baltic states and Poland began to see Russia as a threat. NATO decided to take a series of measures both to resolve the security concerns of these countries and to deter Russia’s aggressive attitude.
The Trident Juncture Exercise, conducted in November last year, was the most extensive and highest participant NATO exercise ever held. Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) was established against a sudden Russian threat in the Baltic countries and Eastern Europe. In April 2019, it was decided that NATO units would be more active in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea.
However, from an objective point of view, it is visible that measures taken could not deter Russia, for the latter rather continues to implement its policies more decisively.
Taking into account the fierce environment where the Baltic states located, Poland’s security concerns at their highest level and a debate on “the brain death of NATO,” initiated by Macron, Turkey’s diplomatic maneuver to overcome the tension regarding the S-400 and YPG can be seen as a ruse. Well, is there any truth to it?
As stated by Merkel, even though Turkey engaged with Russia much more than the Western alliance in the last few years, Turkey is seen as a country that should be kept within NATO to prevent the country from having more momentum on these axis changes. Russia, aware of the said situation, is using its influence on Turkey to create an internal crisis in NATO.
The reported transfer of the control of railways on the Baltic line between Moscow-Saint Petersburg to the Land Forces by the Russian Ministry of Transport disclosed on social media by the nationalist accounts along with the statement given to Reuters gives the impression that Turkey and Russia are acting in concert.
Putin openly states that he is ready to intervene at any moment in the Baltic countries and Poland. The consequent atmosphere strengthens Turkey’s hand. Besides, disapproval of the defense plan would be a severe failure to NATO, as well as the realization of NATO’s brain death. While there is the reality of German Chancellor Merkel’s response to Macron’s statement that “Europe will not ensure its security without NATO,” such a failure could push not only the Baltic countries and Poland but also other continental European countries to seek new structures.
The establishment of a novel European security mechanism under French leadership can be voiced louder than before. As the success of the initiative will depend heavily on cooperation with Russia, which already holds the ropes in energy, maybe more involved in European affairs. Germany, which has taken power in the EU economically and has not brought up the issue of military power by acting with a Bismark-like foreign policy understanding so far, may choose to determine its destiny.
For the United States perspective, which criticizes EU countries for not making enough sacrifices on defense spending, watching the crisis first expect members to put forward their preferences and seeing that the members realize that NATO is the best option for everyone in the short term, then intervene the crisis can be considered as the most rational state. Accordingly, NATO’s effectiveness depends mostly on the US attitude. As a good businessman, Trump can turn this advantage over and transfer some of his NATO spendings to EU countries.
The world is going through a significant transformation. The world is facing a big transformation now. NATO, which gave a great test of adaptation to change after the Cold War, is on the eve of conversion again. One of the most critical items in the agenda of this Summit will be the discussion of the German and French proposals at the meeting of Foreign Ministers for this transformation. The consensus principle in NATO will likely be on the agenda.
NATO is the only international organization that Turkey can raise consequential views. As such, big moves on the eve of significant transformations may cause unpredictable consequences. Although Turkey’s move seems smart in terms of timing, it is quite risky in terms of conjuncture.
Turkey, amidst her collaboration with Russia, can be perceived as a country that shook the foundations of NATO. Turkey should always be a country that determines its agenda. The most significant responsibility here lies with the bureaucrats and politicians who put the interest of the country above everything.
S-400 defense system purchased to protect Erdoğan’s palace, critical journo says
The missile defense system that Turkey purchased from Russia and caused the crisis within NATO was first tested in Ankara. The allegations that the system was preferred to protect Erdogan’s palace were thus strengthened.
The Russian-made air defense system S-400 was tested in the capital city of Ankara, which caused controversy. Ünal Çeviköz from Republican People’s Party (CHP) criticized the situation, and the journalist Zeynep Gürcanlı said: “It was purchased to protect the Palace.”
BOLD- Turkish F-16 warplanes flew over the country’s capital Ankara on Monday and Tuesday to test the country’s brand new Russian S-400 missile defenses. For this reason, the provincial governor’s office warned the public not to be worried about the F 16s and other aircraft that would conduct low- and high-altitude flights over Ankara.
Defend Ankara or Turkey?
S 400 air defense systems were tested in Ankara, which caused controversy. “Is the S-400 to defend Turkey airspace or Ankara? Can the system with a 600 km radar range not be tested outside the settlements?” Ünal Çeviköz, the CHP Deputy Chairman, asked.
‘Erdoğan will protect his palace’
Foreign Policy columnist Zeynep Gürcanlı stated that the testing of the S-400 in Ankara is linked to the security of the Palace. Gürcanlı said “S-400s were purchased to protect the palace. When I said that before, everyone was angry with me.”
Erdoğan does not trust NATO friendly army officers
It is an important topic of debate in Turkey that Erdogan does not trust the Turkish Armed Forces senior commanders, the member of Nato. While the palace is being protected by about 2,500 police, the air defense will be provided by the Russian air defense systems that Turkey paid billions of dollars.
The question of why Erdogan’s Palace was not hit by airplanes in the controversial July 15 coup attempt is frequently asked by the opposition parties. On July 15, Erdogan’s Palace, even his huge garden, was not hit. A bomb was thrown on the road outside the palace’s garden.
Main Opposition Party’s leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu named ‘ July 15’ as ‘controlled coup attempt.’ Also, it is claimed that Erdogan purchased Russia’s S400s to protect himself from the Turkish army.