Turkish spies kidnap Erdogan’s political opponents abroad
A Kosovo parliamentary commission of inquiry concluded that the arrest and deportations were in direct violation of guarantees under national and international law, resulting in the dismissal the Kosovo Minister of the Interior and Chief of Intelligence.
Several of these extraterritorial abduction cases resulted in enforced disappearances – the victims were tortured and disappeared after returning to Turkey. This was the case with Zabit Kişi, who was forcibly returned from Kazakhstan to Turkey in 2017, where he was subsequently detained in an unknown location and tortured for 108 days.
The Turkish government also tried unsuccessfully to kidnap enemies living abroad. In a plot discovered in Switzerland in March 2017, two Turkish embassy officials allegedly conspired to drug and uproot a Swiss-Turkish businessman, who would be sent back to Turkey. The alleged plan suggests that the Turkish government attempted to expand its own political agenda and extraterritorial operations to Western democratic states seen as a safe haven for Turkish political exiles.
Turkey’s extraterritorial actions represent an example of transnational repression – various authoritarian practices intended to silence political dissent abroad. Scholarly research on why authoritarian rulers tend to engage in acts of extraterritorial repression suggests that once autocrats have mastered the challenges of national opposition and gained effective control over the media, they are more likely to attack their opponents abroad whom they increasingly see as the main threat to their regime.
As President Erdogan succeeded in consolidating his authoritarian regime in his country by sidelining other prominent AKP figures, by strengthening his control over the state institutions which were increasingly deployed against the opposition and by limiting independent media, his government has stepped up extraterritorial operations – extrajudicial kidnappings and renditions – for crackdown on regime opponents abroad.
Together with the use of other forms of transnational repression, including repression manipulation of the Interpol red notice mechanism prosecute political dissidents across borders – kidnappings and renditions offer the Turkish government a practical tool to deter those who have fled to foreign jurisdictions from criticizing its regime by creating an atmosphere of fear among Turkish exiles and diaspora communities. Indeed, President Erdogan, in a speech to members of his party in October 2017, spoken publicly his desire to hunt down all the Gulenists abroad whom he described as members of a “front of traitors”.
A global threat
Due to the transnationalization of political activism, authoritarian governments around the world have increasingly sought to maintain control over political exiles and diaspora communities for the sake of the regime’s survival or stability. As a corollary, authoritarian regimes increasingly resort to various repressive strategies to control the expression of political dissent abroad.
The most recent example of such practices is the alleged surveillance of dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich by Belarusian security services while in Greece, followed by the forced landing of his plane in Minsk on May 23, on the fragile basis of a bomb threat, to detain him .
A weak international response and Lack of responsibility because acts of transnational repression have so far enabled authoritarian leaders around the world to continue to pursue their opponents abroad with impunity. This encouraged the Turkish government to kidnap its suspected enemies abroad without any hindsight against its covert operations. In fact, Turkey would even have pushed its NATO allies to soften the official reaction against the forced landing of the flight by the Belarusian authorities to arrest Pratasevich.
Extraterritorial kidnappings and renditions of Turkish dissidents living abroad take a heavy toll on the victims and on diaspora populations in general. In addition to depriving victims of their rights to life, liberty and security, the fear and mistrust that these practices are spreading among members of diaspora communities make extraordinary renditions a matter of critical concern to the government. international human rights framework.
Turkey’s international partners, and in particular the UN and EU countries in particular, should continue to urge the Turkish authorities to put an end to these practices and to respect national and international legal procedures relating to the issue. extradition of criminals. They should send a clear message to the Turkish government that these operations are unwelcome in their territories.
The international community and human rights watchdog organizations should also put pressure on similar jurisdictions to ensure that they do not give in to Turkey’s politically motivated extradition requests, which pose a threat to Turkey. rule of law everywhere.