Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging Kyrgyz authorities to investigate the disappearance of the founder of an education network in the Central Asian country amid concern that he may be forcibly deported to Turkey, where he could be at risk of "mistreatment or torture" and would face arbitrary detention and an unfair trial.
Orhan Inandy, a dual Turkish-Kyrgyz citizen identified as Inan in his Turkish documents, is "likely to be persecuted" for his alleged ties to the movement connected with U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, the New York-based human rights group said in statement on June 9.
Over the past five years, Turkey has requested that Kyrgyzstan shut down the activities of Inandy's Sapat Educational Institutions, a network of schools and an international university in Kyrgyzstan, saying that it is linked to Gulen. Ankara blames the cleric for a failed coup in 2016, which he denies.
"The Kyrgyz government has a responsibility to investigate his disappearance, determine where he is being held, and ensure his safety and that he is not unlawfully removed to Turkey," said Syinat Sultanalieva, Central Asia researcher at HRW.
Inandy, the 53-year-old founder and chairman of the board of Sapat, has lived in Kyrgyzstan since 1995. He was granted Kyrgyz citizenship in 2012.
Inandy went missing late in the night on May 31. His car was found in downtown Bishkek early the next day with the doors wide open and valuable items still inside seemingly untouched, suggesting this was not a case of robbery.
His wife, Reyhan Inandy, said last week she had evidence that he was being held in the Turkish Embassy in Bishkek, a claim denied by the diplomatic mission.
Daily protests demanding an effective investigation into Inandy's disappearance have taken place in the Kyrgyz capital, with many of the demonstrators saying they believed the missing educator was abducted by Turkish secret services.
Protesters rally near the Turkish Embassy in Bishkek in support of Orhan Inandy.
Once in Turkey, Inandy would face arbitrary detention and an unfair trial on terrorism charges, as well as possible ill-treatment and torture, according to HRW.
The watchdog insisted that allowing Inandy's rendition to Turkey would violate Kyrgyzstan's obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture, which prohibits extraditing or returning anyone to a place where they risk being tortured.
Over the past five years, scores of men accused by the Turkish authorities of having links with the Gulen movement have been arbitrarily detained in countries around the world and forcibly returned to Turkey, HRW says.
There they are "incarcerated on bogus terrorism charges in violation of due process rights and protections."
Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov has instructed the State Committee on National Security and the Interior Ministry to intensify the searches to find Inandy, and the Bishkek police created a special investigative group to locate him.
Reyhan Inandy said in a June 6 statement that an undisclosed source told her that her husband was being held against his will at the Turkish Embassy and tortured to renounce his Kyrgyz citizenship, which she said would simplify his forcible transfer to Turkey.
Kyrgyz Deputy Foreign Minister Aibek Artykbaev has said that ministry officials held a meeting with the Turkish ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, who rejected the statement by Orhan Inandy's wife as "not true."
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036