LAHORE - Pak Turk International School Principal Mehmet Ali Seker led a press conference on Friday at Lahore Press Club on disappearance of Turkish national Mesut Kacmaz and his family from their house.

Almost 60 hours have passed since this incident, Mehmet Ali Seker said, but no official has given us a satisfactory explanation. “We have been living in Pakistan for a long time and never had to face any issue ever. We, by no means, are able to understand how court decisions can be disrespected and trampled upon so blatantly like this by kidnapping people from their homes,” he added.

The principal said the incident was very tragic as 15 people in the guise of police force took the family away from their house. “During this operation the family was mishandled; Mesut Kacmaz’s wife fainted and even then the constables pulled her up on her feet to arrest her; and their two teenage daughters had a crying fit,” he told the media.

He added that as a result of the political issues of Turkey and unjustified pressure their visa applications have been rejected by an official letter issued by the government of Pakistan on 14th Nov 2016, and all of educationists had to apply as asylum seekers to the UNHCR. The family which was abducted was staying in Pakistan with asylum seekers certificate issued by UNHCR.

He requested the government to seriously look into the matter and bring the family back. “I believe Pakistan is a free state and we are also a part of it,” he maintained.

Former vice-principal Gonul Baris said his children were afraid. “They question if they would be taken away from their mother. I tell them that they won’t be,” Baris told the media

“We are seriously concerned about the safety of our lives. Perpetrators of this illegal act must be accounted for and our colleagues should be released,” Gonul demanded.

Another teacher, Fatima Esra Tosun said they had come to Pakistan to spread education and not serving any agenda. “I have three children and one is named Iqbal. We have lived in Pakistan as a family and as independent citizens. Since I have heard about this incident I haven’t been able to sleep for the last two days,” Fatima shared.

Mehmet Ali Seker said Turkey is currently hosting the highest number of asylum seekers and refugees. “The Turkish citizens seeking asylum in Pakistan since November 2016 are immediately concerned about the latest developments.” he concluded.

On September 28, the Lahore High Court barred the federal government from deporting Turkish citizens till the next hearing on a petition filed against alleged abduction of Turkish citizens.

Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza heard the petition and issued notices to the federal government to submit reply. The judge directed the government to ensure that those abducted and detained should not be deported to Turkey till the next hearing.

Orhan Uygun, a colleague of Mesut Kacmaz, who along with his family went missing on Tuesday, filed the petition, challenging the possible deportation of Turkish citizens.

Asma Jahangir appeared in the court on behalf of the petitioner and submitted that the government, through the attorney general, had undertaken before the court last year that Turkish employees of the Pak-Turk School would not be deported till Nov 24, 2017.

She said that unidentified persons abducted Kacmaz and his family from their house and it was likely that they would be deported to Turkey in violation of the court orders.

The petitioner, she said, approached the police station for registration of an FIR against the abductors but the police were reluctant to take action.

The lawyer prayed to the court to stop the Interior Ministry from deporting the Turkish family.

After hearing both sides, Justice Mirza directed the federal government to submit reply, and adjourned the hearing until Oct 6.

After court proceedings, Asma Jahangir told reporters that abduction and deportation of Turkish citizens was violation of the court orders and officials of the Interior Ministry involved in this act had taken law into their hands.

Police did not listen to Pak-Turk School teachers and students and did not lodge FIR of the incident, she said.

A Turkish teacher told the media that they sought asylum in Pakistan under the UNHCR and they served Pakistan for more than 22 years and had never been involved in any illegal activity.

 He said that Turkish teachers had serious concerns about the safety of their colleague and his family and wanted the government authorities to ensure their safe recovery and take action against the perpetrators of this act.

 

FAIZAN JAVED