Myanmar to deport Turkish family amid crackdown fears

Teacher Muhammed Furkan Sokmen, his wife and their two-year-old daughter were stopped at Yangon airport on Wednesday evening as they tried to board a plane to Bangkok.

Myanmar to deport Turkish family amid crackdown fears

World Bulletin / News Desk

Myanmar authorities have detained a Turkish family and are trying to deport them to Turkey, where activists fear they will face persecution for alleged links to a preacher accused of trying to overthrow the government.

Sokmen used to work at an international school that local media report has been investigated for links to a Muslim preacher accused of plotting a failed coup against Turkey's president.

A video posted online appeared to show the family being held in a room inside the airport.

"The Turkish ambassador has put pressure on the Myanmar police to try to seize my passport," Muhammed Furkan Sokmen says into the camera.

"Please help me. I await your help."

Government spokesman Zaw Htay said the family were stopped after Turkey cancelled Sokmen's passport.

"It has nothing to do with the Myanmar government," he told AFP.

"He and his family will be deported as their passports are invalid."

Immigration police at the airport and in Naypyidaw refused to speak to AFP. Several calls to the Turkish embassy went unanswered.

More than 100,000 people have been dismissed or detained in Turkey since a failed attempt to oust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year.

Erdogan blames the coup on US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen -- a claim he strongly denies -- and has launched a relentless purge against those deemed to have backed the plot.

Earlier this month Malaysia deported three Turkish nationals wanted by Ankara for alleged links to Gullen.

A friend of Sokmen's family who lives in Yangon said authorities had twice tried to put them on a plane to Turkey, but they had refused.

Human Rights Watch warned the family could face possible torture and prolonged detention, followed by an unfair trial, if sent back to Turkey.

"The Myanmar government should not let itself become complicit in endangering this family," said fellow Richard Weir.

Their detention comes after three branches of the Horizon International School, where Sokmen used to work, were recently shut down.

Local magazine Frontier reported police had launched an investigation into the school for links to "terrorist organisations" shortly after Turkey's failed coup.

Last Mod: 25 Mayıs 2017, 16:16
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