Living in fear: Turkish teachers move court against deportation

Published: September 30, 2017

KARACHI: Former employees the Pak-Turk International Schools moved on Friday the Sindh High Court (SHC) to have their names put on the Exit Control List (ECL) to bar the government from deporting them to Turkey.

The employees, who are Turkish nationals, approached the court after their colleague mysteriously went missing in Lahore along with his family on Wednesday.

In the plea, the Turkish nationals said that Islamabad was trying to deport staffers of the Pak-Turk International Schools under pressure from Ankara.

Asylum seeker: Turkish family goes missing from Lahore

They said that the court had previously restrained the federal authorities from deporting the Turkish nationals who were performing teaching duties at the schools run by the foundation of a US-based Turkish leader, Fethullah Gulen.

They alleged that the authorities were still deporting Turkish nationals and their families in violation of the order passed by the court.

The petitioners mentioned that a former principal of a Pak-Turk School, Mesut Kacmez, and his family members were taken away by men in plainclothes from their residence in Lahore on September 27.
Kacmez, with his wife and two young daughters, was reportedly taken to an undisclosed location, they said quoting media reports.

‘Yes, I have taught, and it is not a crime’

The petitioners said an attempt was also recently made to kidnap the family of another Turkish employee in Khairpur. They pleaded to the court to restrain the federal and provincial authorities from deporting them to Turkey.

A direction was also sought for the interior ministry to put the names of all the employees of the Pak-Turk schools on the ECL to stop their deportation.

The petition is likely to be taken up for hearing on Monday (October 2).

Deportations stayed

Turkey had requested Pakistan to close down the Pak-Turk schools run by Gulen, who had been accused of instigating a coup attempt last year.

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The deportation issue was taken up in court in December last year by a group of parents, students and teachers of the Pak-Turk schools against the deportation of Turkish teaching staff following a request made by the Turkish government.

The interior ministry had in November last year ordered the Turkish staff of the educational network to leave Pakistan, rejecting their applications for extension in visas.

The petitioners’ lawyer, Abdul Hameed Khoso, said the Pak-Turk Foundation was a non-profit, non-governmental organisation which had nothing to do with the politics of Pakistan or Turkey. The petitioners submitted that the deportation order would hurt the interests of 11,000 students studying in the schools.

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He said the Turkish teachers had applied for an extension in their visas, but the government instead of granting the extension, ordered the staff to leave the country.

He maintained that the Pak-Turk Schools provide inexpensive but high-quality education.

“Therefore, the decision to deport the teachers will harm the future of students of the schools.”

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