UN slams Myanmar, Thailand for deporting Turk


BANGKOK — The United Nations raised “serious concerns” on Saturday over the fate of a Turkish man deported by Myanmar and Thailand this week for alleged links to Fetullah Gulen, the cleric accused of plotting a failed coup against Turkey’s president.

Muhammet Furkan Sokmen, an accountant who had been working at an international school in Yangon, is at least the sixth person in recent months to be deported from Southeast Asia over alleged connections to Gulen, the UN said.

“The UN Human Rights Office has serious concerns for their safety in Turkey where there are substantial grounds to believe that they would face an imminent risk of grave human rights violations, including torture,” the UN’s Southeast Asia office said in a statement.

Turkey has accused Gulen of orchestrating the July 2016 attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The US-based preacher strongly denies the allegation.

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Since the failed putsch Turkish authorities have carried out an unprecedented crackdown on suspected Gulen supporters, arresting or sacking more than 100,000 people.

Muhammet was first arrested at Yangon airport on May 24 with his family.

He was then transferred to Thailand, where he was held for 24 hours before being sent back to Turkey on Friday, according to the UN, which said it had urged Thai authorities to halt the deportation.

The UN added that it has seen a spike in cases over the past month of Turkish nationals in the region being scrutinised for suspected links to the Gulen movement.

Muhammet’s deportation comes shortly after three branches of the Horizon International School, where he used to work in Yangon, were shut down.

Police had launched an investigation into the school for links to “terrorist organisations” shortly after Turkey’s failed coup.

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