Vanitho Ivan Kerawiya, a Ugandan national who until recently was working as a teacher at the Simya private college in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish province of Diyarbakir was detained over his alleged ties to the Gulen movement.
Ivan earned popularity in Turkey when the pro-government A Haber TV made a broadcast interview with him earlier this week. “Hailing from Uganda, Ivan came to Turkey four years ago, and he has never turned back,” the reporter said before describing him as a Diyarbakir lover during the interview.
“The students love their teacher as well,” the reporter added, passing the mic to some of Ivan’s pupils: “I really love him. He teaches us not only English but also drawing, music, dance and everything. He is not like a normal tutor.”
The reporter went on to hail Kerawiya for “his colorful personality, ability to speak 11 languages and commitment to spend good time with students.”
The state-run Anadolu agency joined A Haber to make an interview with him as well as some other students.
When Kerawiya’s story went viral, however, pro-government social media accounts claimed that the teacher is affiliated with the Gulen movement, starting a growing lynch against him.
“When I saw the news, I thought he could be a Gulenists and started investigating him. [It turns out that] he had participated in Turkish Language Olympics [organized by Gulen schools abroad] and studied at their schools. He had not blocked Gulenists social media accounts and he still follows them. He follows all Gulenists in Uganda,” political strategist Abdullah Çiftçi wrote on Twitter.
After a while, the pro-government Ihlas news agency reportedly called the school’s management to learnt that Kerawiya was originally recruited as a public relations expert who has had good relations with the students and their parents, and that he was mistakenly showed as a teacher.
Kerawiya’s information was later removed from the schools’ website and the school said in a statement that his contract was terminated over Gulen links.
On Thursday, Abdullah Çiftçi wrote that Diyarbakir police called him to inform that Kerawiya was detained on accusations of membership to a terrorist organization.
Both Anadolu and A Haber removed the interviews from their websites.
Turkish government accuses the Gulen movement of masterminding the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and considers it a terror group while the later denies accusations.
Some 150,000 people have passed through over Gulen ties, of which 60,000 were remanded in prison pending trial since the summer of 2016.