After many disappearance reports from 1980s to 1990s, Renault’s “Station Wagon” types of “Toros” models became the symbol of unidentified murders and kidnappings for many Turkish people, particularly Kurdish-origin citizens. Especially in the 90s, it was allegedly used by Gendarmerie Intelligence (JİTEM) members in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern regions. There were many murder or disappearance reports from that period and “White Toros” were common in many instances. According to witnesses’ reports, many Kurdish businessman, some drug dealers, and Kurdish opponents were abducted with these vehicles. Corpses of some of disappeared people were found later, most of them were never found. The National, a government owned English-language daily newspaper published in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates interviewed with the families in 2015. Family members reported that police were not willing to cooperate in most cases and many investigations were blocked. None of these incidents were solved.
According to some Turkish human rights groups, up to 2,000 people are believed to have been forcibly disappeared in Turkey after the 1980 coup d’état. The Human Rights Association İHD) is one of the major NGOs in Turkey and It reported 792 instances of disappearances from 1992 through 1996. Amnesty International says its investigators have solid documentation of at least 135 cases. These disappearances peaked in the 1990s during the most intense years of the three-decade conflict between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces. Then, it suddenly stopped in the late 1990s.
The families of the forcibly disappeared in Turkey have gathered for a symbolic 600th time demanding justice. The Saturday Mothers movement is one of the longest running civil disobedience campaigns in the country. The “Saturday Mothers” — also known as the “Saturday People” — first gathered at noon, May 27, 1995, in front of central Istanbul’s Galatasaray high school. Twenty years have passed since they last had news of their loved ones. They still gather every single Saturday at the same location.
Gulenists Appear to be Targeted
After about 20 years, these types of disappearances have begun again in recent months. Gulenists are target of the abductions this time. According to witnesses report, VW Transporters have replaced White Renault Toros vehicles. At least 7 cases of alleged abduction have been reported so far. Security camera footage and passersby witnesses account that majority of the 7 cases were abductions, describing scenes in which victims were forced into cars by unknown assailants in separate incidents.
One other commonality in all of these cases is the fact that all of the disappeared had been the purged by the government either during the state of emergency or before the coup. Among them, two teachers, a university personnel, two intelligence agency officials, an Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTIK) worker and a Competition Authority employee.
These alleged kidnappings are almost solely reported by Gulenist affiliated media outlets as well as Gulenist tied twitter accounts, therefore the sources in this piece reporting on these recent kidnappings also based on Gulenist affiliated media and twitter accounts. Under the circumstances it is too dangerous to report on these kidnappings in Turkish media given the victims are appear to be Gulenists or tied to the group one way or another. Here are 7 Gulenists allegedly kidnapped and never heard back:
GULEN-AFFLIATED UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEE TURGUT ÇAPAN NOT SEEN FOR 21 DAYS
Ülkü Çapan, a housewife who got involved in social media only after her husband was abducted, has announced in a series of tweets that Turgut Çapan, a former employee of Turgut Özal University, which was shut down by the government, was abducted in Ankara on March 31.
Ülkü Çapan also released a video clip in which she explained the story in detail. She said a friend of her husband dropped by her home on April 1 to say that Turgut Çapan had been abducted.
TEACHER CENGİZ USTA NOT SEEN FOR 17 DAYS
Cengiz Usta, a 44-year-old teacher in İzmir province who was dismissed from his post with a state-of-emergency decree has been missing since April 4, joining two education professionals who are claimed to have been abducted in the same week.
Usta was a teacher at Cumhuriyet Primary School in İzmir’s Torbalı district until he was dismissed by a government decree on Sept.1, 2016.
“My brother left his daughter at home and went out to pay elevator maintenance fee. He has not come back home yet. A witness claims that my brother was forced into a car by two men on Abdulkadir Street. This was recorded in police records as well,” the teacher’s elder brother Selim Usta told Buyuk Torbali, a local media outlet. His wife Reyhan Usta also tries to reach someone who can help to find Cengiz Usta.
TEACHER ÖNDER ASAN NOT SEEN FOR 20 DAYS
The 41-year-old philosophy teacher, Önder Asan mysteriously disappeared in Ankara’s Şentepe neighborhood, on April 1, according to information given by his wife Fatma Asan. Önder used to work as a philosophy teacher at a secondary school, which the government shuttered over its alleged links to the Gülen movement after July 15 coup attempt.
Fatma Asan later said she has found his husband’s car parked near Şentepe with its tires blown-out. Fatma Asan also said police and the prosecutor in charge are so reluctant to investigate the case that not even a single CCTV camera in Şentepe was taken under examination for would-be recordings of his husbands.
TURKEY COMPETITION AUTHORITY EMPLOYEE MUSTAFA ÖZGÜR GÜLTEKİN NOT SEEN FOR 120 DAYS
Mustafa Özgür Gültekin, a Competition Authority personnel, was followed by at least four cars to a convenience store in Ankara’s Beştepe neighborhood at 18.15 pm on Dec.21, 2016.
Family members have so far managed to obtain nearby CCTV footages in which Gültekin was seen while being forced into the car.
According to security cam footage at 6:15 p.m. on Dec. 21, 2016, Mustafa Ozgur Gultekin, a former personnel from the state anti-monopoly watchdog, was forced by unknown men into a car after being followed by at least 4 cars in Ankara’s Bestepe neighborhood.
He went to a store for shopping. As soon as he left there, a group of men forced him into a Volkswagen Transporter van. Since that day, no word from Mr. Gultekin.
According to online news portals Aktif Haber and The Globe Post and Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) which is non-profit organization set up by exiled journalists worked in Gulen-affliated media groups, there are more disappeared people and their families do not want to interview or post on social media. Here are those names:
NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY EMPLOYEE MESUT GEÇER NOT SEEN FOR 50 DAYS
Mesut Geçer worked at the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) until he was dismissed as part of the government’s post-coup crackdown. His car was stopped and he was reportedly abducted in Çakırlar quarter in Ankara’s Yenimahalle district, in late March this year.
According to Aktifhaber and The Globe Post news portals, his family members have been having difficulty even in submitting petitions to ask about Geçer’s where abouts as offıcials often refuse to cooperate with them.
The family has had no information about him for 50 days. And their ordeal is no less arduous, as family’s persistent request for information from officials about Mr. Gecer’s whereabouts has produced no result.
INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES AUTHORITY PERSONNEL HÜSEYİN KÖTÜCE NOT SEEN FOR 81 DAYS
Hüseyin Kötüce, a BTK employee, was reportedly abducted at the parking lot of Batıkent subway station in Ankara after he got out of work in February. Family members found his coat and a cake he had bought in Kötüce’s car, parked in the parking lot.
Despite successive request, family members have so far failed to get police carry out fingerprint examination on the car while no CCTV footage was released.
NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY EMPLOYEE (MIT) AYHAN ORAN NOT SEEN FOR 171 DAYS
Started working at MİT in 2005, Oran was dismissed over his alleged ties to the Gülen movement on Aug. 2, 2016. He was last seen leaving the compound he was living in at 12.38 pm on Nov. 1, 2016. The signal on his cellphone was active only before 16.00 pm on the same day. While he stocked no money into his pocket, he did not even bid farewell to his wife before he went out, Sözcü columnist Saygı Öztürk said. Oran worked in Turkey’s Şırnak and Diyarbakır provinces as well as in Greece.
Meanwhile, a left-wing Turkish newspaper, Evrensel, reported on Jan.10 2017 that Zeynep Tunçel, a reader and distributor, was abducted and beaten by a group of unidentified people who accused her of resisting the government.
Also, an Ankara man named Sunay Elmas is too reported to have been abducted, but this particular case took place on Jan 27, 2016. Aktifhaber said Elmas had also been forced into a Volkswagen Transporter van with tinted windows. His family has not heard from Elmas for as many as 451 days.
A twitter account, Son Vesayet, that is operated by Gulen followers posted the security cam videos and some of statements of victims’ families.
By Tahir İpek