Families, rights groups demand answers about two more vanished Turks

The last time Sumeyye Yilmaz saw her husband Mustafa was the night of Feb. 18, 2019. The physiotherapist went to work the next day while she was still asleep and did not return.

After 24 hours without news of his whereabouts, Yilmaz said she went to file a missing persons’ report at her local police station in Ankara. The officers there told her she had been abandoned, that he had run away, and she immediately became suspicious.

Seeking answers, Sumeyye began looking through surveillance camera footage in her neighborhood. First, she found a video of Mustafa in their apartment’s elevator the morning of Feb. 19. She also saw exterior footage of him leaving the building and taking his usual commute route.

Then she found camera footage from adjacent buildings showing a man approach Mustafa and begin hitting him. Another man appeared during the melee and put a white bag over his head. Mustafa was then forced into a black Volkswagen Transporter van while a third man took his wallet, cell phone and jacket, which he quickly slipped on, and continued walking along Mustafa’s commute route as the van sped off with her husband inside.

Sumeyye said she took the footage to the police station, but the officer on duty would not accept it, recording only short clips of the videos with his cell phone.

“In those videos, there’s clear evidence of his abduction,” Sumeyye told Al-Monitor. “The black Transporter had taken tours around our house many times before they took him. And after his disappearance, you can see someone who comes to check the neighborhood cameras to see if they were working.”

“Neither the police nor the prosecutors I contacted are taking enough action to find my husband and he was taken from right in front of his home,” Sumeyye added.

Mustafa Yilmaz is one of at least two people that have gone missing in similar circumstances since February. The other is a dismissed civil servant from Antalya, Gokhan Turkmen. Following the sudden reappearance of four additional missing men at a detention site on July 28, human rights groups have amplified calls for investigations into the whereabouts of Yilmaz and Turkmen, who are believed to held incommunicado in police custody.

Since a 2016 coup attempt, the number of cases involving such disappearances have risen sharply in Turkey, as security officials have cracked down on supporters of Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara accuses of having orchestrated the failed putsch. Such tactics have not been widely used in Turkey since 1990s operations against Kurdish militants, and their resurgence in the post-coup period has alarmed local and international observers.

Read the full story on Al Monitor: https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/08/two-disappeared-turks-investigation-human-rights.html#ixzz5wbgfE5IM