Turkish couple reportedly “kidnapped” by Pakistani security forces for Gulen links

According to reports, a Turkish couple with alleged links to controversial Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen has been “kidnapped” by Pakistan’s security forces.

Mesut Kacmaz, the former director of PakTurk school and his wife were picked up during a midnight raid on their rented house in the city of Lahore. Kacmaz and his family had been staying in Wapda Town, Lahore on an asylum seeker certificate issued by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The couple applied for asylum after Turkey requested Pakistan to deport the teachers for their links to the Gulen movement.

Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Sadik Babur Girgin had said that the Pak-Turk schools were linked with Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric, who Turkey accused of plotting the coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Another Turkish asylee, who was also picked up by Pakistani security forces but was later released, said that the incident took place at around 1 am. During his ordeal he was able to pick up on some of the conversation among the alleged ‘kidnappers’, he said that they were talking about deporting them to Turkey.

Relating the incident the former teacher said:

“Around 15 plain clothed ‘police officers’ raided our house around 1 am. Out of fifteen, five were lady constables. They did not conduct any search-and-seize procedure, “

The former teacher who did not want to be named said:

“The couple’s two teenage daughters were crying loudly as they the officers pushed Mr. Mesutout of the door, When I saw what was happening I protested and the ‘officers’ arrested me and took me downstairs. Soon, the members of the Kacmaz family were brought downstairs too.

They made us climb into the Toyota Hi-Lux pickup truck, the ‘officers’ blindfolded all of us first and later slipped hoods on our heads (including Mrs. Meral and their two daughters). I was handcuffed in the front. They could not handcuff Mr. Mesut, so they tightened a cloth strip around his wrists. Mr. Mesut protested and a scuffle happened. Mr. Mesut received some blows on his face.”

“We were made to travel in squad pickups. On the pickups, There were revolving police lights, though. All of the ‘officers’ were in plainclothes. We traveled about 30 minutes and when they removed our blindfolds, I saw that we were in a well-furnished bungalow. It looked like a guesthouse. There were other people there as well. I guess some of them were senior ‘officials’.

One of the ‘officers’ said to me, “You were not meant to be involved in this, yet you got yourself involved. We have nothing to do with you. Your name is not on our list. We will set you free.”

They even removed the wall clock so that we should not keep track of the time. They then blindfolded me again and drove me back to the gate of the housing society where I live in. I was not wearing any footwear, so I walked barefooted back home. I could not see any license plates on the vehicles.”

According to a police report, the action might have been taken by the counter-terrorism department. The UNHCR is also closely monitoring the case as well.

In August, management of PakTurk Schools were forcefully changed by Pakistani at the request of Turkish Envoy Sadik Babur Girgin.

Since the attempted coup, Turkey has fired 21,000 teachers and arrested hundreds of academics, In a chain of 28 Pak-Turk Schools and Colleges in Pakistan, around 11,000 students are studying. The project has been launched in 1995 by the Pak-Turk Foundation.