The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday extended an earlier stay on the deportation of two Turkish nationals, Murat Ervan and Mesut Kacmaz, as well as three family members of the latter.
The court had on September 28 restrained the federal government from deporting the former vice president of the Pak-Turk Schools and his family till the next hearing of a petition filed by one of Kacmaz’s colleagues.
Kacmaz, a former vice president of the Pak-Turk Schools, was reportedly abducted along with his wife and two daughters from their residence in Wapda Town early on September 27.
Kacmaz had been staying in Pakistan with his family on an asylum certificate issued by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which was valid till November 2017.
Ervan had later filed a writ petition pleading that his colleagues had been allegedly abducted by law-enforcement agencies and were likely to be deported. He feared being deported himself.
The lawyer for Kacmaz and his family had also argued in the previous hearing that there was a likelihood that the abducted family would soon be deported. She said the petitioner had filed an application with the police station concerned for the registration of a kidnap case; however, the police were reluctant to take any action.
The lawyer had argued the authorities involved in the alleged abduction and possible deportation of the Turkish family had taken the law in their hands.
On September 29, two days after the abduction, Turkish nationals previously affiliated with the Pak-Turk schools had appealed to the Pakistan government not to deport them, pleading that they would be persecuted in Turkey at the hands of the Recep Teyyip Erdogan administration.
Justice Shams Mehmood Mirza on Friday passed the order to extend the stay on the Turkish nationals’ deportation and adjourned hearing the petition for two weeks after a lawyer representing the interior ministry requested more time to ascertain the facts of the case.
During the hearing, the interior ministry’s lawyer had told the court that intelligence agencies had been asked whether Mesut, his wife Meral and daughters Huda Nur and Fatima Huma Kacmaz, were in their custody.
Following the failed July 2016 coup in Turkey, the Pak Turk School network in Pakistan had been subjected to a massive crackdown because of its ties to Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of being behind the coup attempt.
The Pakistani government had eventually decided in November 2016 to deport the Turkish teachers working in the schools on Turkey’s demand.
A Turkish teacher had previously told Dawn that they had been forced to take UNHCR protection as asylum seekers to live in Pakistan since November 2016. He said the Turkish educationists had been serving the people of Pakistan for 22 years and had never been involved in any illegal activity.
He said the Turkish teachers had serious concerns about their safety and wanted the authorities to ensure the recovery of their kidnapped colleagues and bring the perpetrators to book.
On Thursday, the Senate’s Standing Committee on Human Rights had taken up the issue and decided to summon officials of the federal and provincial governments at its next meeting to answer questions on the matter.