Turkish family of PakTurk Schools director abducted in Pakistan: rights group

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The family of a former director of the Turkish PakTurk Schools in Pakistan has been abducted by authorities in the eastern city of Lahore, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said, less than a year after Pakistan sought to deport them.

Pakistan has forged close ties with Turkey in recent years and President Tayyip Erdogan, who opposes the PakTurk Schools, has made several state visits to Islamabad.

Turkey has accused the schools of alleged links to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, or his “Hizmet” movement, which Erdogan says was behind a failed coup attempt in Turkey last year.

PakTurk schools deny such links but in November last year Pakistan ordered their Turkish teachers to leave the country.

HRCP said Mesut Kacmaz, former director of the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges, was picked up on Wednesday by 20 armed individuals, according to their Turkish neighbor who spoke to the rights group.

Kacmaz, his wife, and two daughters were, “roughed-up, hooded, handcuffed and taken in a wagon” to a “furnished house where several other interrogators were also present”, HRCP, a non-governmental organization, said in a statement late on Wednesday.

“HRCP urges the government to immediately release the Kacmaz family and desist from deporting them. There are credible reports of other Turkish educationists being arrested upon their arrival in Turkey and their subsequent torture.”

The Punjab province’s police department did not respond to requests for comment.

HRCP said the family has been living in Pakistan for the past year on a valid United Nations’ asylum seeker certificate.

The schools educate more than 10,000 students in Pakistan.

Additional reporting by Mubasher Bukhari; Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Kim COghill