Ümit Morkoç: We are concerned about the agreement between Zelenskyy and Erdogan on speeding up extradition
Turkish dissidents feel unsafe as Zelenskyy acquiesces to Erdogan’s demands. The crackdown extends beyond Turkey’s borders. Since 2016, Ukraine, too, has been asked to investigate institutions and people that Ankara says are linked to the Gülen movement.
Members of the Hizmet Movement (Gülen Movement) in Ukraine were worried about the issue negotiated at the head-to-head meeting between Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine.
Speaking at UkraineHaber.com, Ümit Morkoç expressed his concern over the agreements signed between Kyiv and Ankara.
Ümit Morkoç, a Physics teacher, said that due to cooperation of the Ukraine’s security with the Turkey’s after the meeting between Zelenskyy and Erdogan, he no longer can feel himself safe in Ukraine. Morkoç, who has a permanent residence permit in Ukraine, said that now he considers moving to the safe western countries.
Morkoç remembers that in year of 2018 in order to silence Erdogan’s opponents, Yusuf İnan, a journalist with permanent residence in Ukraine, was extradited to Turkey in the operation carried out by the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), according to the extradition demand of the President of Turkey.
IN TURKEY, THE POLICE BROKE INTO THE HOUSE
Morkoç described his life in Turkey in the following way: “I’m a physics teacher. In Turkey, I was the head of the board and founder of an educational center that was engaged in educational courses and social responsibility projects in the field of career growth and vocational training. At the same time, I worked on the board of an educational center. My wife was also working as a manager and biology teacher in an educational center. In March 2015, my wife gave birth to our child. In June 2015, when our child was just 3 months old, in the early morning, 17 heavily armed policemen broke into our house. I opened the door for them and asked if they had a search warrant and an arrest order. They pointed their weapons at me and said, “Here’s our warrant. 17 police officers entered my house. My wife and I were divided into separate rooms. Threatening with weapons, they interrogated me with threats and curses. My wife was also threatened and insulted in another room with a 3-month-old baby in her arms. So that our neighbors would not protect us and also mock us, they announced to them that we were terrorists. They wanted me to sign the interrogation protocol, which contained so said “my confessions” and which was drawn up in advance. When I refused, they began to threaten me, pointing a pistol at my head. And no matter how sad it was, among the police there was also the chief of security, who thanked us for representing the national culture at the International Turkish language Olympiads. When I went to trial and dropped all charges and they had nothing else to accuse me of. Then the judge said, “Anyway we will find you some kind of accusation,” and decided to pass a ruling on my guilt.
“I WAS SENTENCED TO 4 YEARS İN PRİSON FOR İNSULTİNG ERDOGAN.”
While my phone was with them, they logged into my Facebook account and wrote insults on my behalf towards Recep Tayip Erdogan, on the basis of which I was sentenced to 4 years in prison. Since I had no criminal record before, I got off with a fine. After that, difficult days began for us. Due to the worries experienced, my wife, who had just given birth, couldn’t breast feed our child anymore. Due to constant checks, the school where I worked was forced to fire me. We were constantly insulted and attacked by the people around us who were members of the Justice and Development Party. Every day I was harassed by people and vehicles who believed “I was wanted”. It was no longer possible to live in our city. That’s why we moved to Istanbul with our family. Since we were worried that we could be arrested again, the lease of the house and all the bills were made out to my mother’s name. For us, very difficult times began, materially and spiritually.
I started working for a real estate agency. I’d got a good job and environment. We had just started to think that everything was getting better for us, when we learned that a new order had been issued for investigation of our case. It became impossible for us to continue living in Turkey. My friends with whom I had previously worked suggested me to move to Pakistan to work there for an organization that belonged to the Hizmet Movement. My wife and I were very happy to be able to work again in the organization that belonged to the Hizmet Movement.
In May 2016, my family and I moved to Pakistan. A day after we left Turkey, I found out by phone that the police had come to our house and wanted to arrest us. Later in the news, I saw that many of my friends with whom I worked in educational centers were arrested. I was very upset for them. If we had stayed even for one more day in Turkey, then we also would have been arrested and we would have been taken to prison. Despite the fact that I did not hold anything in my hands except a pen, I did not work anywhere except in the educational centers, despite the fact that we worked in projects that raised funds to help people who depend on cigarettes, alcoholism and drugs, we were accused of terrorism and that we have founded a terrorist armed organization.”
“ERDOGAN ALSO FOUND US İN PAKİSTAN”
On July 15, 2016, there was an attempted military coup in Turkey, after that the Morkoç family could not live peacefully in Pakistan. Morkoç shared the following about their changed life after July 15th. “The attempted state coup on July 15 was a harbinger of genocide, as well as repression and persecution. The terrible events that have taken place have deeply affected us. In August 2016, I started working as a founder and director in an educational company that advised the Hizmet Movement schools. After we lived in Pakistan for a year, Erdogan’s visits to the country took place, and after that the seizure of institutions belonging to the Movement began, and we started to hear conversations about the extradition of members of the Hizmet Movement, which caused serious concern. First, a trustee was appointed on the school’s board of directors. Then those who worked at the school had their visas canceled and ordered to “leave the country within three days.” The court recognized this decision as a politician and launched an investigation. We turned to the United Nations Organization (UN) and they provided us with a refuge for our security and official stay in Pakistan. Since our friends did not have a visa, they could not work in any job. With the support of many Pakistanis who knew and loved us, we entered the legal battle as the Hizmet Movement. But, unfortunately, the people opposing us had no rules and no conscience. On September 27, 2017, the Turkish emigrant Mesut Kaçmaz, who also worked in educational institutions in the Pakistani city of Lahore, and his family were brutally kidnapped and taken to Turkey.
Many groups of people who looked around the houses with the lists, issued by the Justice and Development Party in their hands inspired fear and panic. When we met with the authorities who knew and loved us, they told us to leave our homes. We, 20 families, for a week lived at the home of a high court attorney. Those people took my friend, whom I worked with, from his house with a sack on his head. They tried to obtain information through torture and threats. They asked who I was and where I was hiding. I went to the police and told them what had happened. When I said that my friends, whose names I did not want to disclose, warned that some people were looking for me, they said that my friends had nothing to do. I went to the UN and explained the situation. They took the protection paper from me, and said that they could no longer protect me, and also advised us to leave the country.”
“WE MOVED FROM PAKISTAN TO UKRAINE”
Morkoç said that when a security threat arose in Pakistan, they decided to move to Ukraine.
Morkoç: “My wife was pregnant and these events affected her greatly. In a result of negotiations with colleagues and my family, we decided to move to Ukraine. We were very worried because my wife had to give a birth to our baby after 1.5 months. I told my wife; let’s separately go through control at the airport. I told her that if I was arrested, then she had to ignore and continue her way. The words of my wife, who was eight months pregnant, still ring in my ears, tearing me apart: “How can I leave you, let us be arrested together.” On December 5, 2017, we left Pakistan and arrived in Ukraine. There was a month left before the birth of our child. Such worries as renting a house, visits to woman’s doctor, and unknown language and our sudden arrival tired us a lot. As a result, my wife had very serious problems before and after childbirth. I started a company that dialed with the paperwork for a residence permit. We loved Ukraine and Ukrainians. My family and I were happy with our life here and our new job. In July 2018, we were very concerned that two people from the Hizmet Movement were kidnapped by the people from the Justice and Development Party. Sometime after this incident, our fears about our security in Ukraine diminished with the time, and we continued our quiet life. But recently, after heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine, when the Ukrainian President Mr. Zelenskyy went to Turkey with his visit, where he had face-to-face negotiations with Erdogan, and the talked the issue of extraditing the Gulenists to Turkey, we has worried very much. “Our concern became even greater when we read in the Ukrainian media that Hizmet Movement teachers would be used as exchange material in arms and trade deals with Turkey” said.
There were kidnappings and extrajudicial deportations from Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Sudan, Pakistan, Gabon, Moldova and Ukraine.
The suspicious circumstances of the arrest and hasty deportation of two Turkish nationals — the journalist Yusuf Inan and businessman Salih Zeki Yiğit — from Ukraine in July 2018 sparked outrage from human rights organizations.
By Yunus Erdoğdu | [email protected]