LAHORE: Alumni of the Pak-Turk schools came out to demand the immediate release of the Turkish family who was reportedly picked up from its home in Lahore.
Talking to the media during a news conference at the Lahore Press Club on Monday, the students demanded the release of their former teacher along with his family. They said that Turkish teachers dedicated their lives to the cause of education in Pakistan and they were being punished for it. They said that even the FIR had not been registered despite a Lahore High Court order and they now feared for the safety of the family.
In the early hours of September 27, Mesut Kacmez, a former director of the Pak-Turk Schools, along with his wife and two young daughters, was abducted from his residence in Wapda Town by 15 unidentified people in plainclothes. The Turkish teachers of the schools had sought asylum in the country since Pakistan revoked their visas on the request of the Turkish government. Turkey blamed the US-based Fethullah Gulen for a failed coup in July 2016 and launched a crackdown against his supporters globally. The Turkish government had been claiming that the Pak-Turk schools were allegedly run by a foundation linked to Gulen.
Speaking at the press conference, Osama Dastagir, a former student of the school, said that he, along with the Pak-Turk Alumni Association, were worried for the safety of their teachers and their families. “It is shocking that a teacher was kidnapped in a way that made him look like a high-profile dangerous terrorist.” He said that according to witness accounts of their abduction, he and his family was tortured by the people who raided his home in the wee hours of the morning.
“We came here today for the people who dedicated their lives to providing education to the children of this country. Is this his reward for his services for Pakistan,” Dastagir asked. He said that the family was in the country legally and it was worrying how these people were being harassed.
“It is most worrying that even after the LHC orders, no FIR was registered. Another worrying thing is that the state security organs are telling the court that they don’t know who abducted the family and they cannot trace them.”
Usman Asghar, another alumnus of the school, said that the Turkish teachers had rendered their services to the country and Pakistan was their home as they were living here for decades. He said that everyone affiliated with the Pak-Turk schools were worried for the safety of the family, while other Turkish families in Pakistan also lived in fear.
The students held placards inscribed with slogans expressing their solidarity with Mesut Kacmez and demanded that they should be produced before the courts.
Last month, children and women of Turkish Teachers expressed their utmost desire to live in Pakistan and not be deported to Turkey.
Fatima Tosun, a teenage Turkish girl and daughter of a woman vice-principal of a Pak-Turk School, said that she came to Pakistan more than ten years back. She was five years old at the time.
In an emotional tone, she says, “Pakistan is a country of freedom and democracy for me. I love Pakistan and I don’t want to leave it.” My foreigner friends often say you live in Pakistan? How are you still alive there? I reply that this is my country.
They don’t know how loving the place is, how good the people here are.” The teenager says she has known no other country other than Pakistan as this is the place she grew up in and became conscious.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2017.