Mesut Kaçmaz and his wife Meral Kaçmaz, who were abducted by intelligence operatives and taken to Turkey under torture and arrested there while Mesut Kacmaz was working as the public relations manager at the PakTurk Schools, told their ordeals at the Turkey Tribunal Court.
PakTurk Schools Public Relations Director Mesut Kaçmaz and his wife Meral Kaçmaz, who were abducted from Pakistan and tortured in Turkey by Turkish intelligence operatives in September 2017 and held in Turkish prisons for months, testified as witnesses at the civilian Turkey Tribunal Court constituted in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Kaçmaz couple connected by a video broadcast to the exclusive court of law, where the torture incidents in Turkey were discussed and where the AKP government and its officials were allegedly involved in the crime, talked about the tortures inflicted on them and their children during their abduction from Pakistan, on the plane while being taken to Turkey, and at the police departments in Turkey.
Mesut Kaçmaz stated that their house in Lahore was raided at midnight on September 27, 2017 by people claiming to be “police officers” who refused to show any identification, He also stated that his wife and their two daughters were forcibly put in pickup trucks and abducted while they were barefooted and in pyjamas.
Court members could not believe what Kaçmaz told
Noting that they were blindfolded and had a sack over their heads, Kaçmaz said that they were held captive with his wife and their two underage daughters in an undisclosed location for 17 days with no sunlight.
Kaçmaz stressed that they were then deported to Turkey on a private aircraft and said, “We were taken to Turkey on a private plane. We were subjected to severe torture on board. They threatened to rape my wife and daughters if I didn’t say what they wanted.”
Kaçmaz said that when they reached the Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul, they were taken to passport control. Reminding that the operatives of the Turkish intelligence who abducted the family put them in the passport queue at the airport, Kaçmaz continued: “When the police officer at the passport control counter asked for my passport, I said that we had been abducted and that our documents had remained in Pakistan. I also told him he should actually direct this question to the operatives who had abducted us and who were standing behind us at that moment. Yet, the passport officer didn’t care at all and just asked me to show him my passport. He said I would otherwise be subjected to due legal action.”
A member judge of the Turkey Tribunal, who found the details provided by Kaçmaz hard to believe, had him retell the ordeal given his questions and eventually said, “This is an interesting situation, indeed.”
Mesut Kaçmaz stated that he and his family had no criminal record in Pakistan, where they lived for many years, and that Pakistani authorities had expressed this to them.
Not supporting the AKP gets you arrested!
Meral Kaçmaz also said that she was kept in solitary confinement for 6 months in Turkey without even knowing her crimes. Noting there were women crying for their children in other wards, Kaçmaz said, “During that time, I thought I would stay there for the rest of my life. I did not sign the documents brought before me. I thought that one day my innocence would be certified by a court of law, but I was sentenced to 6.3 years and was released later.”
Meral Kaçmaz stated that she and her family had no problems with their homeland, Turkey, but that the AKP government accuses and arrests anyone who does not support it on charges of “terrorism”. She noted that she believed they too had been abducted and arrested simply because they did not support the AKP government.
After the testimonials, the panel of judges asked questions to Mesut Kaçmaz.
The questions and the replies of Kaçmaz are:
Prof. Em. Dr. Giorgio Malinverni: Who abducted you?
Reply: 15-20 people abducted us. These were from the Pakistani police, but there was also a Turkish MIT intelligence officer among them. However, Turkish officials took us to Turkey.
Prof. Dr. Ledi Bianku: What did you experience on your landing? Did the aircraft crew hand you over to the officials?
Reply: We were forcibly taken to the plane in Pakistan. I was tortured on the plane for 5 hours. There they threatened me to rape my daughters and my wife. We landed at the Atatürk International Airport and they continued uttering insults and swearwords there. They had blindfolded us all. After landing they treated us as if we were ordinary airline passengers. When the immigration police asked to see our passports, I told them we had been abducted; later, they arranged arrival documents for us. There I was separated from my wife and children.
Angelita Baeyens:Why do you think you were targeted? Why did you experience those ordeals?
Reply: I’m not sure, but I guess I was chosen arbitrarily. However, I had good relations with the Pakistani authorities. The accusation was that I had worked at the PakTurk Schools. They had also included in my case file as a crime I deposited money in Bank Asya.
Dr. John Pace: Who prepared the video we have just watched? Were the images in that video authentic?
Reply: This video was prepared exclusively for this hearing. Some additions were made for this hearing. We found and added the images of a room, railings, and our photos taken in the past to the video.
Prof. Em. Dr. Giorgio Malinverni: The crime (abduction) had taken place in Pakistan. Did you take this matter to any court there, too?
Reply: The AKP regime has a great influence on the government of Pakistan. After the coup attempt, Pakistan changed the administration of our schools. State officials also made threats to us and some stated that if we did not hand over the schools, every one of us would be deported to Turkey. During that period, Pakistani intelligence officers visited us for the first time and wished to see documents in our office. After examining the documents, they apologized and stated that the documents presented to them as the reason for that raid had arrived from the Turkish Embassy. 10 days before my abduction, the AKP officials and the Pakistani intelligence officials had a meeting. During that period, we applied to the UNHCR and we were told that we could stay in the country (Pakistan) for another year. (Because we had been ordered to leave the country within 72 hours w.e.f. November 16, 2016) After my abduction, we applied to a high court in Pakistan. The judge decided to have us produced at the court on a certain date, but we had already been taken to Turkey. Meanwhile, the Pakistani officials said, “We have been following you for 6 months, and we have not found your involvement in any crime” but they also stated from a separate channel they had no choice but to abduct us.
A civilian and significant court
The Turkey Tribunal is a civil court established in Belgium last year. Its members include the former judges of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and professors specialized in human rights.
The court, which is to convene at a hotel between September 20 and 24 in Geneva and judge the unlawfulness of the Erdogan regime, also aims to draw the attention of the international community to the human rights violations in Turkey and to raise overall awareness. All court documents, testimonies and judges’ decisions will be published in full transparency through digital communication tools. It is not a legally binding court, but its decisions are envisioned to have high moral authority and constitute case law.
The civil court is organized by Prof. Dr. Johan Vande Lanotte. Lanotte, a professor at the University of Ghent, served as the deputy prime minister in the federal governments in Belgium for four terms. In 2006, King II. Albert appointed him as the Minister of State.
The presiding judge of the Turkey Tribunal is Prof. Em. Dr. Françoise Barones Tulkens. The member judges are: Dr. Johann van der Westhuizen, Prof. Em. Dr. Giorgio Malinverni, Prof. Dr. Ledi Bianku, Dr. John Pace, and Angelita Baeyens.