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15.06.2021 Author: Vladimir Odintsov

Are They Going to Look for the Founder of Sapat Who went Missing in Bishkek?


The reader will recall the hysterical commentary from Washington and the EU almost immediately after the detention in Minsk of Roman Protasevich,  the founder of the Telegram channel NEXTA, the calls from the West to discuss this issue at the highest international level, and the imposition of draconian sanctions against Belarus. However, those same Western ‘fighters for democracy’ remain surprisingly silent about the continuing disappearance in Bishkek of the secret Gülenist Orhan İnandi, founder of the Sapat Educational Institutions.

According to the press office of the Internal Affairs in Bishkek, they were first notified on June 1 about the disappearance of Orhan İnandi, the president of a large network of prestigious Kyrgyz-Turkish schools.  In the evening on May 31, İnandi, who has Kyrgyz citizenship, drove out of his house in his SUV, and early on June 1 his car was found at the other end of the city. The car doors were open and inside were his personal documents, wallet and mobile phone, all still intact.  Having received the signal, an investigative-operational group was set up by the Bishkek police, and they are doing all that they can to locate the missing person. Kyrgyz media write that, according to one version, he could have been kidnapped by Turkish special forces.

While İnandi was born in Turkey he now has Kyrgyz citizenship. He is one of the four founders of Sapat. The first founding member was the Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen.

On June 1 a rally was held in solidarity with Orhan İnandi not far from the Turkish embassy in Kyrgyzstan. Roughly 100 of the participants in the rally were students and teachers from Sapat. These protests have been going on for several days now. Hundreds of supporters of the head of Sapat are holding demonstrations near the House of Government, the Turkish embassy and the capital’s Manas airport, where a Turkish airliner is preparing to take off, on which, it is believed, Turkish special forces may try and smuggle Orhan İnandi to Turkey.

It is worth noting that official statements from Ankara initially  demanded that the Kyrgyz authorities close the Turkish schools that belong to the Sapat network (in 2017 the network received its current name) and the Atatürk-Alatoo University. These claims are justified by Turkey by the fact that these educational bodies were founded by supporters of the oppositional politician Fethullah Gülen, who stands accused of an attempted military coup in Turkey.

Since 1993, 15 schools and the Atatürk-Alatoo University have been operating within Kyrgyzstan, which form part of the Sapat network, as well as the Silk Road international school and 3 incomplete secondary schools. The total number of people involved in this educational institution is 12,043, including 2022 students. Tuition at the school costs parents around $3000 per annum. The representatives of the educational network refute any connection with Fethullah Gülen.

On July 23, 2016 the Turkish president Erdogan made a decree banning all institutions associated with Gülen. The new ‘blacklist’ included more than a thousand schools, 1,200 foundations and associations, 35 medical institutions as well as 15 universities. Also in 2016 Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called on the Kyrgyz foreign ministry to change their attitude towards the ‘Gülen gang’ and to close educational institutions in Kyrgyzstan associated with the Sunni cleric Fethullah Gülen. In response, the Kyrgyz foreign ministry made a request to Turkey not to blackmail the Kyrgyz authorities and also not to interfere in the internal affairs of Kyrgyzstan.

In this connection, the attempt by the Turkish secret services in 2018 to kidnap the director of the Turkish-Mongolian school Veysel Akçay in Ulaanbaatar by a special flight from Ankara comes to mind. The only crime of Akçay was that he was in the organization of Fethullah Gülen and that this particular school belonged to a network of educational institutions of the ‘Gülen sect’. Thanks to the vigilance of citizens who were shocked to see people with a Caucasian appearance on the streets of Ulaanbaatar assault a similar Caucasian-looking man, put a mask over his head and throw him into a car, Akçayʼs kidnappers, who turned out to be Turkish special forces, were fought off at the airport, and this incident undoubtedly became a huge scandal.

According to Kyrgyzstan media, the wife of Orhan İnandi, Reyhan İnandi, received information that her husband was inside the building of the Turkish embassy in Kyrgyzstan, which she herself reported. “I was informed today that either today or tomorrow he will be forced to revoke his Kyrgyz citizenship in order for him to be extracted. I could take this just as a rumor, however this has not been an isolated case and Turkey has previously tried in many countries to kidnap teachers from the Sapat education system, whom it accuses of being terrorists,” Reyhan İnandi said. She again made an appeal to the Kyrgyz president Sadyr Japarov and also to the people of Kyrgyzstan with a plea to protect a fellow Kyrgyz citizen.

Since a Turkish private jet is currently stationed at Manas airport, many express the concern that Turkey will try to extract İnandi back to Turkey on this ‘special-board’ flight.

Under these conditions, Ilyas Ciloglu, the president of the International Black Sea University, clearly fearing for his life and also possible extradition to Turkey, since he too supposedly had close ties with Gülen, fled from Georgia. Ciloglu told the Georgian newspaper that his university has been “associated with Gülen” and since 2017 there have been investigations against him in his connection with Gülen. In 2018 he was convicted in absentia. Ankara made a request to Tblisi to extradite the university president, despite the fact that he has Georgian citizenship, in addition to Turkish citizenship. “In Georgia I was constantly expecting to be kidnapped. I did not leave the house alone, I only walked where there were CCTV cameras and always changed roads. I had police on speed dial,” said Ciloglu. Nevertheless he decided to leave Georgia since he was uncertain about Georgia’s ability to keep him safe, since Turkey “does not abide by international law.”

At the same time it is important to add that so far there has not been a single action or sanction against Turkey by the West in defense of İnandi or Ciloglu. And, by the look of it, it does not seem likely that such actions will ever be taken…

Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook“.

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