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Family of missing Syrian human rights activist says they feel unsafe in Turkey

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The wife of Ahmed Katie, a Syrian human rights activist who went missing in İstanbul in late November, has announced that she and her children have been living in fear since Katie’s disappearance, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

Speaking at a press conference organized by human rights group Mazlumder, Katie’s wife said he was receiving threats due to his activism, sometimes from migration authorities.

“Ahmed used to text or call whenever he went somewhere so that we wouldn’t worry,” she said. “Now that he has vanished, we don’t know what to do. We are afraid to live in Turkey.”

Lawyer Nurullah Çelen said it has come to the point where they feel relieved when abducted migrants resurface inside Turkey.

“If Ahmed Katie gets left within Syria’s borders, his life will be at risk,” Çelen said. “We have filed a complaint with prosecutors; yet we’re still in the dark concerning his whereabouts.”

Çelen added that it has become common to see threats against migrants on social media.

Katie, a 45-year-old non-practicing lawyer, was reported missing as of November 27. Family and friends have not heard from him since he left his workplace in İstanbul’s Yusufpaşa neighborhood after he was reportedly summoned by the police.

Several people close to him told French newspaper Le Monde that Katie had been pressured by Turkish authorities in recent months. In a video recorded on YouTube on October 23, he explained receiving a call on October 19 from someone claiming to be a member of the security services. The caller asked him to go immediately to Café Mado in Aksaray Square, close to work. There, Katie said he found three individuals – two Turks and an Arabic-Turkish translator – who asked him to buy a SIM card in his name at a store belonging to phone service provider Turkcell, just across the street, before handing it over to them.

Katie announced in October that he was suspending human rights activism due to the threats he had received.

The activist had been living in Turkey under temporary protection status.

Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced last month that there are 3,254,904 Syrians under temporary protection in the country, with 1,129,614 of them having received residence permits and 259,468 under international protection.

Anti-refugee sentiment is running high in Turkey, with frequent instances of attacks on mostly Syrians and their workplaces taking place across the country.

In June the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) released a report titled “Hate speech and hate crimes against Syrian refugees in Turkey,” which detailed the increased hostility Syrians have been faced with in recent years. With inflation soaring in the last few years, they have been blamed for many of Turkey’s social and economic ills.

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