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Senator Leo Housakos Advocates for Turkish-Canadian Survivors in Canadian Senate

In a powerful address to the Canadian Senate, Senator Leo Housakos spotlighted the chilling experiences of four Turkish-Canadians – Mesut Kaçmaz, Meral Kaçmaz, Murat Acar, and Candan Acar – who endured torture and arbitrary detention before finding sanctuary in Canada. These families courageously escaped persecution in Turkey and have now become a critical part of the dialogue on human rights abuses.

Senator Housakos extensively discussed the targeted sanctions submission filed with Global Affairs. This calls on the Canadian government to enact sanctions against twelve Turkish officials implicated in heinous crimes against these families and Gökhan Açıkkollu, a teacher who tragically died in custody in Turkey.

The Kaçmaz family was unlawfully deported from Pakistan to Turkey, and the Acar family, despite being under UN protection, was forcibly transferred from Bahrain to Turkey. Both families were victimized due to alleged affiliations with the Gülen movement, a faith-based group that the Turkish government unjustly blames for the 2016 failed coup. The Gülen movement firmly repudiates any involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activities.

Gökhan Açıkkollu, another victim of the 2016 post-coup crackdown, endured severe physical and psychological abuse in custody until his untimely death. Açıkkollu’s fate, and that of the Kaçmaz and Acar families, starkly highlight the devastating human rights situation in Turkey.

Senator Housakos emphasized the alarming extent of the human rights crisis in Turkey, with over 300,000 people detained since 2016, including numerous prosecutors and judges. The Turkish government has also suppressed freedom of expression, closing over 2,000 institutions and 131 media outlets.

He brought attention to the distressing evidence of widespread torture, rape, and deaths in custody, reinforcing the findings of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the UN Human Rights Committee, which have repeatedly held Turkish officials responsible for serious human rights violations.

In his poignant speech, Senator Housakos expressed gratitude to the Kaçmaz and Acar families for their bravery in sharing their personal stories and resisting the atrocities they suffered. Northern Justice Watch commends their courage and reiterates its commitment to seeking justice for all survivors of the Erdogan regime’s human rights abuses.