HRW urges Kyrgyzstan to take action over missing educator sought by Turkey

(Updated with meeting between Erdoğan-Kyrgyz counterpart)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday called on Kyrgyz authorities to investigate the disappearance of a Turkish educator in Kyrgyzstan, who is suspected of having been forcibly deported to Turkey.

Dual Turkish-Kyrgyz citizen Orhan İnandı, former principal of a school affiliated with religious group Ankara accuses of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt, has been missing since May 31, 2021.

The educator went missing in capital Bishkek and his car was found with its doors open, prompting an investigation by Kyrgyz officials. 

According to his wife, the 53-year-old founder and chairman of the board of Sapat Educational Institutions, whose extradition Turkey requested in 2019, is being held in the Turkish embassy in Bishkek.

"If returned to Turkey, İnandı could be at risk of mistreatment or torture and would face arbitrary detention and an unfair trial,’’ HRW said.

Ankara designates the Gülen movement, led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, a terrorist organisation over the group's alleged involvement in the failed coup attempt to topple the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Gülen, a former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, denies accusations of involvement in the failed coup attempt. 

Following the failed putsch, the Turkish government began a crackdown on the group that extends beyond the country’s borders. 

Over 292,000 people have been detained over alleged membership in the group, according data from the Turkish Interior Ministry, and Turkey issued 462 red notices, which alerts police worldwide about internationally wanted fugitives, for people suspected of membership in the Gülen movement, as of the end of 2019.

“The Kyrgyz government has a responsibility to investigate his disappearance, determine where he is being held, and ensure his safety and that he is not unlawfully removed to Turkey,” HRW cited Syinat Sultanalieva, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch as saying, in reference to İnandı.

“If the Kyrgyz authorities do not retrieve İnandı from wherever he is being held against his will, they will fail to meet their obligations to ensure his safety as required under international law and the Kyrgyz Constitution,” Sultanalieva added.

Erdoğan on Wednesday met with his Kyrgyz counterpart Sadyr Japarov in Ankara and the pair discussed the threat posed by the Gülen movement to Turkish and Kyrgyz security, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“We agree that FETÖ poses a national security threat to both countries,” ict cited Erdoğan as saying a a news conference following the meeting.

"FETÖ," short for Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation, is the acronym by which Ankara refers to the Gülen movement.

"Recent events have once again revealed the bloody, dark and ugly face of FETO. I hope we will overcome this threat together by standing shoulder to shoulder," Erdoğan added.