Ottawa urged to expedite residency process for those fleeing oppression in Turkey


Date posted: July 15, 2017

Andrea Huncar

Edmonton father who fled Turkey leaves on overseas mission to rescue family.

An Edmonton father who fled the political turmoil in Turkey is putting his life in danger to return to the region to rescue his wife and young children — and he’s pleading for help from the Canadian government.

“My family is in danger,” he told CBC News through a translator.  “I have no worries about myself. I just want to save my family.”

CBC is not identifying the family or sharing certain details about his travels that could reveal their identities because of the life-threatening circumstances.

Turkey has been in a state of emergency since a July 15, 2016 coup attempt and a subsequent government crackdown that saw President Recep Tayyip Erdogan move to gain sweeping powers. Erdogan’s promised “cleansing” of Turkey’s state institutions has seen tens of thousands lose their jobs or be jailed.

Amnesty International, whose own staff have been detained in the purge, says 150 journalists and at least five Turkish-Canadians have been arrested. An estimated 100,000 teachers, lawyers, judges and other public servants have been removed from their positions.

For the Edmonton father who is a protected refugee, time is of the essence. He only has a 15-day travel visa to rescue his family.

He hasn’t had the heart to tell them that the permanent residency status he needs to bring them back to Canada has yet to be approved.

‘Give us a chance’

He and his supporters are imploring the Canadian government to expedite the application process.

“Give us a chance to live here peacefully so I can live with my family and live with my kids and see them grow,” said the man, acknowledging the danger of the task before him due to his membership in a group demonized by the Turkish government.

“There are countries which are extraditing people of the Gulen movement so if somehow I’m exposed they might get me,” he said, explaining that he would most likely be imprisoned, tortured or even killed. “There are so many examples of this.”

Turkey blames followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for a failed coup but they say their movement promotes peace and democracy.

It’s been a year since the PhD student escaped Turkey after being tipped off to his imminent arrest during the government crackdown in the aftermath of the failed coup.

He is part of the Gulen movement, overseen by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and branded a terrorist organization by Erdogan, who blames the group for last year’s attempted coup.

Gulen members deny those allegations, insisting their movement, known as Hizmet or “service” in Turkish, advocates for religious tolerance, education, human rights, democracy and building bridges with the West.

Haunted by daughter’s calls

But participation in the group forced the Edmonton father into hiding, separate from his family, prior to his departure. It also meant he had the travel visa he needed to flee. He never thought his family would soon be at risk.

Last January, he applied for permanent residency in the hopes his family would soon join him in Canada.

He’s haunted by his young daughter’s tearful phone calls, begging to visit him. He carries her small stuffed animal, a departing gift from a child forced to grow up too soon.

“If anything happens to them because of me I don’t know how I’m going to live my life,” he confided.

‘If anything happens to them because of me I don’t know how I’m going to live my life’

– Turkish father on rescue mission to save his family

With the situation in Turkey deteriorating, they can no longer wait. The man said his family is on the run, even hiding from their own relatives who would turn them in. It was an uncle who first provided his name to the police, he said.

“I’m not angry with them,” said the man. “Everyday the mass media keeps telling that we are the enemy of the state, and that’s what they believe.”

A letter written by his wife underscores their urgent circumstances.

“I don’t have more tears to cry anymore and enough strength to keep my kids safe anymore,” she wrote. “I don’t know how to take care of my kids anymore.”

She said she was recently brought before court, and freed with these final words from the judge: “We will get you sooner or later. Now go.”

Her letter continued: “Prisons now full of moms, dads and even kids. I don’t want my kids to see me getting tortured every day at the prison … please help me Canada as you helped many …”

Not much time left

Her sign-off is desperate.

“Is there anybody there who can help us? If so PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE HURRY! Because, I start feeling that we don’t have too much time left.”

The family’s situation is not the only one of its kind in Canada. Gulen members and supporters estimate there are more than 35 Turkish families in Edmonton associated with the Gulen movement and more than a thousand living across Canada, in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver.

‘This is a targeted war on a specific group of people in Turkey and to me that speaks to genocide’

– Edmonton human rights advocate Renee Vaugeois

Supporters say Canada is one of their only hopes right now because other countries are extraditing Gulen members back to Turkey.

Edmonton human rights advocate Renée Vaugeois has sent a letter to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen urging him to expedite the Edmonton man’s residency application.

She hopes the Canadian government will support other Turkish refugees across Canada facing similar circumstances, given the gravity of the situation.

Human rights advocate Renée Vaugeois wrote a letter asking Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to expedite the Edmonton man’s residency application. (Rick Bremness/CBC)

“This a targeted war on a specific group of people in Turkey and to me that speaks to genocide,” said Vaugeois, referring to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. “We need to support those that are putting themselves in danger to try and figure out how to save their families.”

Alex Neve, secretary general for Amnesty International Canada, said after the failed coup the Turkish government rightfully went after those involved, but then went far beyond that.

“Now the Turkish government has cast an unbelievably wide net and is going after anyone who they believe — and there’s usually no basis for that belief — in any way may have been supportive of or may know a supporter of the Gulen movement,” said Neve. “It’s staggering and it is getting worse not better.”

5 Turkish-Canadians behind bars

Amnesty says the five Turkish-Canadians behind bars include Calgarian Davud Hanci. In the past month, two of Amnesty’s own leaders have been imprisoned. Police arrested Taner Kiliç, the chair of Amnesty International Turkey, on June 6. Last week, authorities detained director Idil Eser, accused of belonging to a terrorist organization.

“That’s unprecedented,” said Neve. ” We’ve never seen that in any country anywhere around the world in our 56 years. So this deterioration in the human rights situation in Turkey is something that should be way up at the top of the global agenda.”

Secretary general of Amnesty International Canada Alex Neve said the arrest of Amnesty colleagues is unprecedented. (Paul Thompson)

Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Jocelyn Sweet said the department has raised the issue with its ally in bilateral interactions and international forums.

“We have expressed concern that increasing numbers of human rights defenders, academics, journalists, and civil society actors, are being impacted by the broad application of national security measures,” she wrote in a statement. “Canada has been consistent in urging Turkey to respond to its challenges in a proportionate manner, upholding its commitments to the rule of law and international human rights.”

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has not yet commented on the Edmonton man’s case.

Source: CBC Radio Canada , July 11, 217


Related News

GYV president Usak passes away in exile

A renowned intellectual, journalist and president of the Journalists’ and Writers’ Foundation (GYV) Cemal Usak, who was among the targets of the Turkish government’s ongoing crackdown on the faith based Gulen movement, has passed away at the age of 63 while in exile. Usak had been receiving cancer treatment for the past several years. Reportedly, he was told he would die in prison if he comes to Turkey.

Students of Fatih Schools take first place in LYS and TEOG exams

Students of the Fatih Schools network — which are inspired by the faith-based Gülen movement — popularly known as the Hizmet movement — were the top scorers in both the Transition from Primary to Secondary Education (TEOG) exams taken from Nov. 26-27 and April 29-30 and the Undergraduate Placement Examination (LYS).

Turkey, The great purge – Four lives upturned by Erdogan’s ‘cleansing.’ Episode 1 – Asli

All Mrs. Asli knows are the values she has embraced and she can’t see any problems with the humanist vision of Islam she endorses. “I recognise Gulen’s values in the morality of Islam, in the lives of Moses, Jesus and the Prophet Mohamed. Our values tell us never to hurt people, but to help them.

Whistleblower Fuat Avni: Gov’t to plant weapons in Hizmet buildings to declare it terrorist group

A government whistleblower who tweets under the pseudonym Fuat Avni has alleged that the government is planning to plant weapons and ammunition in houses and buildings used by followers of the Hizmet movement in order to declare the movement a terrorist organization ahead of the upcoming general election.

Autistic child injures self to express grief after father detained in Malaysia: mother

Ten-year-old autistic child of Ihsan Aslan, a Turkish businessman who was detained in Malaysia last week, has been physically harming himself to express his sadness, his mother Ainnurul Aisyah Yunos told press on May 8.

KADİP’s 1st international photography contest held for peace

The Intercultural Dialogue Platform (KADİP) of the Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) announced the winners of its very first international photography contest, “Peace in the frame,” at a gala on Tuesday night at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in İstanbul.

Latest News

One year after attempted coup, purges have left hundreds of Turkish academics imprisoned

Liberia: Turkish School to Remain Open

Turkish PM admits did not know identity of putschists when he blamed Gülen movement

Turkey’s Curious Coup – positions of the Turkish Government, Gulen Movement and Turkey’s Western allies

Turkish police brutally torture suspect over Gulen links

Disabled teacher, husband removed from job as brothers under arrest

VIDEO – Was July 15 Erdogan’s Reichstag Fire?

27-Years-Old Mother With 11-Months-Old Son Found In Ankara’s Sincan Prison

Five pilots who bombed coup base on July 15 arrested over Gulen links

In Case You Missed It

Turkish doctors hailed for their assistance in CAR

Veteran who lost legs in PKK attack removed from civil service over Gulen links

Turkish school sacrifices over 150 cows for Eidil Adha

Turkish Physicians heal Somali sufferers

Kimse Yok Mu extends help to refugees trying to reach Europe

Turkish President Gül: Turkish schools abroad largest non-state project

Arab world should embrace the Gülen model

Five new mosque-cemevi projects on the way

PM Erdoğan: Internet bill protesters are defenders of immorality

Copyright 2017 Hizmet News