The Albanian government has received a questionnaire from five senior UN commissioners to respond to serious allegations of kidnapping and disappearance, which are alleged to have taken place in the case of Turkish citizens Harun Celik and Selami Simsek.
The letter from the commissioners, originally published in Albania by Balkanweb , states that Albania may have violated in these cases the relevant conventions it ratified two decades ago.
“We emphasize that the failure to recognize the deprivation of liberty by state agents and the refusal to recognize detention constitute a forced disappearance, even if it occurs for a short period,” the letter reads.
Harun Celik is a teacher at a school affiliated with the Gulenist movement in Kazakhstan. He was arrested in Albania in July 2019 in Rinas where he was caught with a forged Canadian visa. He served a six-month sentence handed down by the court for using forged documents and was expected to be released on January 1, 2020. But instead of being released, Çelik was abducted in Tirana and flown by Air Albania flight to Istanbul, where the Turkish government arrested him as a terrorist.
A BIRN investigation revealed that Steel’s abduction in Tirana and his deportation to Turkey were carried out despite his desperate calls for asylum.
On March 9, a second Turkish citizen named Selami Simsek was released from prison in Tirana for forging documents, but instead of being released, a police car kept him trapped for several hours, despite no arrests. security measure.
Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
The UN commissioners who signed the letter are: Luciano Hazan, co-chair of the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, Leigh Toomey, who deals with the arbitrary deprivation of liberty, Felipe González Morales, human rights reporter for migrants, Fionnuala In Aoláin for the protection of human rights in the fight against terrorism and Nils Melzer, commissioner for the fight against torture and ill-treatment.
“While we do not want to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we are concerned that a strong return by Mr. “Selami Simsek and other Turkish citizens living in Albania today could put them in serious danger of arbitrary deprivation of liberty and possibly violent disappearances and torture during the transition or after arriving in Turkey,” the letter said. “We are also concerned that Mr Celik appears to have disappeared due to his alleged links to the Hizmet / Gulen movement and that this was done without due process of law provided for in the relevant legislation,” the letter said.
Endri Fuga, the spokesman for Prime Minister Edi Rama, did not respond to BIRN’s question for comment on the UN letter until the publication of this article.
Following the publication of the Steel scandal in January this year, Albanian authorities denied knowing that it was a Turkish citizen wanted as part of the Gulen movement.
Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj stated that he had not applied for asylum and that his expulsion from the police was legal.
This is the first time in many years that Albania has been accused of kidnapping a person committed by state structures or of disappearing by force.
Simsek is currently being held in a closed refugee center in Karec, Tirana. His lawyer, Elton Hyseni, said he had not received any information.
“We do not know whether the asylum application was rejected or whether it was accepted. They didn’t tell us anything. They are keeping him in a closed camp, but there is no decision or explanation as to why they are keeping him there. We are not being asked, we hope that the UN intervention will help and get an answer, “he said. According to Hyseni, even the numerous requests for information addressed to the authorities in the case of Çelik have remained unanswered.