It has been 800 days since Yusuf Bilge Tunç, a former bureaucrat, disappeared in Ankara in broad daylight, leaving no trace behind.
Tunç’s car was found in a remote area 45 days after he vanished in Ankara’s GİMAT shopping mall in August 2019.Turkish authorities are continuing to maintain their silence about his whereabouts. All the efforts of his family and human rights defenders to find out what happened to him have proven to be of no avail.
Tunç is one of seven persons who went missing under suspicious circumstances in Turkey in 2019 only to mysteriously resurface in police custody. Six of them — Salim Zeybek, Erkan Irmak, Yasin Ugan, Özgür Kaya, Mustafa Yılmaz and Gökhan Türkmen — reappeared in police custody in Ankara after six to nine-month absences.
He worked in Turkey’s Undersecretariat for the Defense Industries, the government agency responsible for defense procurement, and he was summarily fired with an executive decree after a July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
Nearly 30 people have reportedly been abducted by Turkish intelligence since 2016. Most of the abductions targeted members of the Gülen group, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen group since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the Gülen group as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the group following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that he accused Gülen of masterminding. The group denies any involvement.