On Thursday the 29th of March, six Turkish nationals residing in Kosovo were rounded up by local police with the intent of their rendition back to Turkey. It is believed that the local authorities worked in conjunction with Turkish intelligence services, and the men are being held either at the Pristina International Airport or the local Turkish Consulate.
Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj tweeted about the incident almost immediately, where he admitted he was not informed about this operation and consequently dismissed his Minister for Internal Affairs and Director of Intelligence Agency. Yet for all of this, the six men, five of whom are teachers and one is a doctor are still being held and it seems they are are going to be sent to Turkey anyway.
Turkey alleges that the men are members of the Hizmet or Gulen movement, a global education and civic society movement that operates a school in Kosovo. Supposedly the men are complicit in the attempted coup of 15 July 2016, which the AKP blames on the movement and has used to shore up its persecution of anybody mildly critical of their government. We question what role teachers in Kosovo could have in a military coup, but it seems that the Turkish government continues to place huge pressure on those governments that it can get its way with to arrest, torture and destroy those it sees as critical to its ideas.
Allowing the kidnap of people with valid residence permits with no real evidence or justification where they may face torture, ill-treatment and a real risk to their lives violates both the Constitution of Kosovo and its obligations under international law deriving from Article 22 of the Constitution [Direct Applicability of International Agreements and Instruments], notably the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
As members of Advocates for Dignity, we have come to the Embassy of Kosovo in Canberra, Australia, this Saturday the 31st of March 2018 to inform the Republic of Kosovo and His Excellency Sabri Kicmari of our extreme concerns in relation to this event and hope that the Republic of Kosovo will reconsider its position regarding this matter and to put into place the legal measures and procedures to deal with these human rights abuses. The integrity of our international human rights model needs to be maintained and protected by all nations and we believe the Republic of Kosovo will fulfil its responsibilities in this regard in the most delicate manner.
Advocates for Dignity.