PESHAWAR: Expressing concern over the ‘abduction’ of their colleague from Lahore, Turkish teachers and staff members working in Pak-Turk Schools in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have demanded of the government to let them pass their remaining days in Pakistan in peace.
Addressing a press conference in Peshawar on Friday, former principal of Pak-Turk School Peshawar Serdal Arslan and other Turkish teachers said the uncertainty created by the ‘abduction’ of the Turkish national in Lahore had forced them to take their case in the media.
They called upon the authorities concerned to provide them security as entitled to asylum seekers under the UN charter.
Civil society activists and lawyers also spoke to the media at the Peshawar Press Club in the wake of the alleged abduction of former vice-president of the Pak-Turk Schools Mesut Kacmaz and his family from their residence in Wapda Town, Lahore.
“They only wish a peaceful living during their stay in Pakistan,” said Shah Muhammad, the lawyer representing the Turkish nationals, at the press conference.
Quoting his Turkish clients, Shah said, “We are seriously concerned about the safety of our lives and wellbeing. We request the authorities concerned to provide more details about the perpetrators of this illegal incident.”
Shah said that no one had given the Turkish nationals a satisfactory explanation about the ‘abduction’ of Mesut Kacmaz and his family, allegedly by some 20 personnel, including women.
He said the Turkish nationals had been living in Pakistan under the asylum-seeker certificate from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) obtained after the Turkish government had initiated legal action against them.
“These educationists did not have any valid Pakistani residence permit and visa to apply for a teaching post in another country,” said Shah.
In the wake of a failed coup more than a year ago, Turkey had requested Pakistan to close down the Pak-Turk Schools for their alleged involvement with US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen. The schools chain is administered by a foundation linked to Gulen.
Turkish employees of the schools chain, along with their families, sought the UN protection after Pakistani authorities denied them an extension in their visas to work in the country.
The individuals had requested the UNHCR that they be resettled in a country other than Turkey after Pakistan ordered their deportation. The applicants had told the UNHCR that they feared arrest, coercion and torture by the Erdogan government in Turkey in case Pakistan forcibly deported them to Istanbul.
Meanwhile in Quetta, the students studying in Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges as well as their parents held a protest demonstration against the “abduction” of Mesut Kacmaz and his family.
A large number of parents and students gathered in front of the Quetta Press Club and chanted slogans against the kidnapping of the Turkish family. They expressed concern over “delay in tracing the kidnapped family” despite the passage of 48 hours.
(With additional inputs from our correspondent in Quetta)