Turkey’s Authorities Tight-Lipped Amid Families’ Quest to Find Missing Ones

Families’ efforts to find their missing ones bogged down in Turkish Parliament as the ruling party killed off a commission inquiry.

Abdullah Ayasun

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In early July, Saturday Mothers came together with the families of six men who recently went missing.

The Hearing

For months, families of six people, who mysteriously went missing in February this year, have sought in vain to get, at least, a shred of information from authorities about their possible whereabouts. And for months, judging by the unbridgeable chasm between words and deeds, authorities appear to be dodging their quest, deflecting any responsibility to find them.

Families of Gokhan Turkmen, Yasin Ugan, Ozgur Kaya, Erkan Irmak, Mustafa Yilmaz and Salim Zeybek were disappointed once again last week when lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) killed off a parliamentary committee inquiry to enlighten the case of enforced disappearances.

All the men were former public servants, working in different sectors. Between Feb. 6 and 22, they were, according to the account of their families and human rights organizations, abducted by unknown men believed to have ties to Turkey’s security forces.

The monthslong efforts of the families, which recently spurred public awareness and solidarity, devolved into a state of deadlock after government members’ detached response in a parliamentary committee hearing.

The meeting was marked by conflicting accounts, partisan bickering and an unmistakable sense of indifference on the part of the ruling party lawmakers who outright disputed what opposition politicians and human rights organizations called “enforced disappearances.”

“The case of 6 missing people. As our deputy Interior Minister expressed, these people are already on the wanted list, they are being searched. They will be detained and will go through processing once they are captured,” said Hakan Cavusoglu, an AKP lawmaker and head of the Parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Committee, during a parliamentary committee session last week.

“Mr. Chairman, I want to express this. From our angle, there is no issue that requires explanation [and elaboration] left during the briefing…

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Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun