Moldova condemned for Turkish school raid
Amnesty International has protested over Moldova’s arrest and deportation of seven Turkish teachers.
Turkish media says Ankara’s intelligence service, the MIT, was directly involved.
The school, Liceul Orizont, is reported to be linked to the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the botched July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Daily Sabah reported that one of the suspects was identified by the Turkish media as Yasin Özdil, the brother of Osman Hilmi Özdil, a senior member of the Gulen organisation who used to be in charge of the “terrorist” group’s “infiltrators” in Turkish law enforcement.
The school in Moldova posted pictures on Facebook showing protests by the staff and pupils.
A girl (pictured) holds a placard saying in English “set my father free!”
Ankara has purged anyone suspected of Gulen sympathies from government jobs, arresting or dismissing more than 100,000 public servants and calling on foreign governments to extradite suspects, especially Gulen.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said it monitored the activities of Gulenists in 160 countries and found 4,600 suspected members of the group in 110 countries and 80 “coup plotters” from 18 countries had been repatriated. Recently, Ankara claimed that three suspected members of the group were captured and brought to Turkey from Azerbaijan and Ukraine.
In Moldova, the Orizont school’s director, Riza Dogan, and a 14-year-old pupil were reportedly detained.
Amnesty International’s Marie Struthers said: “We are deeply concerned about the fate of the seven detained Turkish nationals.
“The Moldovan authorities should have ensured their protection from forcible return to Turkey, but chose to do the opposite and instantly deport them.”
In March, six Turks, including five teachers at a Turkish college, were deported from Kosovo.
Gulen funds a global network of schools and denies any role in the coup, in which more than 250 people died.
Amnesty said the Orizont teachers had previously requested asylum in Moldova, claiming they would face persecution in Turkey.
The forced deportation of asylum seekers, the human rights group said, was a “flagrant violation of Moldova’s international human rights obligations”.
Turkey’s Daily Sabah said the suspects were expected to face trial in Turkey amid suggestions they are being held by the MIT.
Moldova’s intelligence SIS service said it had “co-operated with the special services of other states” to arrest the teachers, saying that they were “foreign citizens suspected of links with an Islamist group”.
“When it was confirmed that they posed a risk to national security, it was decided that these persons should immediately leave the territory of Moldova,” the SIS told the media.
A Liceul Orizont pupil protests. Picture credit: YouTube