IHD: Stop Enforced Disappearances!

Human Rights Association Statement on Reveal the Faith and Whereabouts of Yusuf Bilge Tunç and Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit!

Mr. Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit’s family lodged an application before İHD on 6 January 2021 alleging that he was abducted. According to the account of the family, Mr. Küçüközyiğit lived in Ankara, they had daily communication with him, he visited his family in Kocaeli every two weeks, he told them on a phone call on 29 December 2020 that he would go to Kocaeli to spend new year’s eve together but he did not, they have been unable to reach him since 29 December 2020, he was last seen leaving the office at 17:23 on 29 December 2020 according the video footage of the office he was working at, the footage also showed three persons suspected of following Mr. Küçüközyiğit as he entered the office, the vehicle owned by Mr. Küçüközyiğit (34 FNF 28) was not in its place either, they did not know whether he got on the vehicle on the day he disappeared, they filed a missing persons report at Kocaeli Bekirpaşa Police Station on 31 December 2020, lodged an application before the Presidential Communication Center (CİMER), filed criminal charges before the public prosecutor’s office, and were concerned that Mr. Küçüközyiğit was abducted.

In 2019 Messrs. Salim Zeybek, Gökhan Türkmen, Erkan Irmak, Yasin Ugan, Özgür Kaya and Mustafa Yılmaz were abducted and held for 7 months. In 2020 both Mr. Türkmen and Mr. Ugan testified at the hearings of their trials that they had been abducted and subjected to torture for 7 months. No effective investigations, however, were initiated into these serious allegations in spite of the testimonies. About a month later after the reappearance of these persons, Mr. Yusuf Bilge Tunç was allegedly subjected to enforced disappearance on 6 August 2020 but his faith and whereabouts still remain unknown despite all the appeals and efforts to find him.

More recently, Mr. Gökhan Güneş’s family lodged an application before İHD’s İstanbul Branch on 22 January 2021 and alleged that Mr. Güneş was also abducted. According to the account of the family, they were not able to communicate with Mr. Güneş after 12:17 on 20 January 2021, they filed a missing persons report at a police station the same day, they were able to receive video footage of Mr. Güneş’s workplace by their own means, the footage showed 6-7 persons waiting on both sides of the street in vehicles, the persons immediately moved towards the bus stop Mr. Güneş was waiting as the bus entered the street, and saw that Mr. Güneş was forced into a vehicle. Mr. Güneş was released on 26 January 2021 as a result of the intensive efforts and reactions by the public, rights organizations, and his family. The same day Mr. Güneş stated in a press conference held at İHD’s İstanbul Branch that unknown persons put a sack over his head and abducted him, he was tortured, he was only able to stand at times, he was not able to move his arms, and was imprisoned in a place that they called the “grave” as he was blindfolded and his hands were tied.

According to Article 1 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, “No one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance.” And “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance.”

Moreover, everyone has the right to liberty and security. No one can arbitrarily be arrested or detained. No one can be deprived of their liberty except for grounds and procedures prescribed by law. Acts of abduction and detention by depriving someone of their right to liberty and security constitute criminal offences wherein the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment is violated. Authorities should immediately launch effective investigations into the perpetrators of such an act, which is a gross human rights violation and is absolutely prohibited, in order to reveal the truth. The state should undertake all kinds of its activities within the framework of law and put an end to unlawful crackdown and threats against human life.

İHD asks the authorities to conduct effective investigations in to the perpetrators of such inhuman treatment against persons who were abducted and subjected to torture and punish the perpetrators; to immediately reveal the faith and whereabouts of Messrs. Yusuf Bilge Tunç and Hüseyin Galip Küçüközyiğit; and states that it will be closely following-up the situation.

It is clear that units specially built within the state play a role in enforced disappearance cases. İHD invites the Grand National Assembly of Turkey’s Human Rights Inquiry Commission and its Intelligence and Security Commission, which has a direct mandate on the issue, to fulfill their duties in order to identify and reveal such illegal formations within the state. İHD would also like to state that it follows the issue before international bodies as well.