Rights Groups Slam Turkey’s Increasing Use of Renditions

International human rights groups are voicing growing concern over Turkey’s increasing practice of abducting people from abroad who are accused of terrorism offenses.A Turkish news channel broadcasts images of Selahaddin Gulen, handcuffed and paraded in front of a Turkish flag. Gulen was spirited out of Kenya in May by Turkish intelligence forces. He is accused of being a member of the FETO group, which Turkish authorities allege was behind a failed coup in 2016. Turkish officials accuse Gulen’s uncle, Fethullah, of being the ringleader of the coup. The older Gulen denies involvement. Earlier in June, the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch strongly criticized Turkey’s increasing use of international rendition – or the handing over of accused persons from other countries. Emma Sinclair Webb of Human Rights Watch told VOA fundamental legal practices are being undermined.”These are not extraditions; these are far more like renditions, where you capture the individual concerned, and you bypass courts and legal frameworks and bring them back forcibly back to Turkey,” said Sinclair. “And the concern here is that you are unlawfully disregarding these men’s asylum claims, citizenship in countries where they’ve been based for many years.”This year, a report from the democracy advocacy group Freedom House claimed Turkey had rendered people from at least 31 countries. Most of those taken are accused of belonging to the group Ankara blames for the coup attempt. Separately, relatives of a Turkish teacher in Kyrgyzstan allege he was abducted by Turkey, a charge Ankara denies. The scale of the Turkish operations is a sign of an increasing assertiveness and global reach of Turkey, says Sezin Oney, columnist for the Duvar news portal.”For a while, Turkey was using its soft power, but now it’s using this newfound diplomatic and foreign influence in much more hard core ways, especially intelligence-wise, as in the case renditions,” said Oney.Ankara is vowing to continue implementing this policy. In an attempt to deflect criticism, Turkish officials claim the United States used the same practice during its war on terrorism earlier in the 2000s. Professor Alexander Cooley, director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute in New York, says Turkey is likely to be encouraged because it has faced little international criticism, which he says has worrying consequences.”There is no pushback from the international community that the Turkish government is conducting these operations either in tacit collaboration or formal collaboration with security services abroad, and there has been very little pushback,” said Cooley. “The implications are that it becomes a more acceptable practice, this breach of humanitarian norms and this fundamental abuse of human rights.”Ankara says it remains committed to tracking down those it calls its enemies and bringing them to justice, warning they will not find sanctuary anywhere.

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