The abduction of Koray Vural

By Fenna Eelkema

Mr. Vural is a 46-year-old Turkish man who moved to Tajikistan in 1994, 29 years ago. He used to work as a teacher and a principal in Turkish colleges in Tajikistan, and these schools were closed down in 2016 after the coup attempt in Turkey.  Mr Vural was part of the Gülen Movement, which promotes a tolerant Islam emphasising altruism, modesty, hard work and education. Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish government accused the movement of being involved in an attempted coup in 2016, leading to much controversy about the movement and a political conflict. The Gülen Movement is classified as a terrorist organization by the Turkish Government. The school was closed due to pressure from the Turkish government. After this, Mr. Vural went into business and started running a restaurant. He also is a loving father of 3.   

On Sunday morning, 17th of September 2023, Mr Vural was getting out of his car when eight masked men abducted him. It is believed that this abduction was done by MIT, which is the Turkish National Intelligence Organization, which gathers information of national interest for the government. 

After Mr. Vural’s wife found out about the abduction, she heard that he was in the Tajikistan police department, so she went everywhere and asked, but she was unable to find him. It is believed that the next day, the 18th of September 2023, he was transported via aeroplane to Turkey. A member of the National Assembly of Turkey, Dr Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, tweeted that a ‘Bombardier Challenger 604’ departed from Ankara to Dushanbe at 01:45 Tajikistan Time (TJT). The aircraft arrived in Dushanbe at 05:50 and was stationed for 30 minutes, and then flew back to the Ankara Etimesgut military airport. It is speculated that Mr. Vural was on this flight.

Two months earlier, on the 4th of July 2023, the teacher Emsal Koç had been abducted from his home in Tajikistan. He was taken to Turkey and was forced to give details on other Gülen movement members in Tajikistan. 

In 2017, a lawsuit was filed against Mr Vural at the Bursa 10th High Criminal Court within the scope of the investigation against the Gülen community; Mr Vural’s name was included on the Orange list, which is a wanted terrorist list prepared by the Ministry of Interior. However, this was cancelled by the Council of State. 

Mr. Vural’s family has been asking for help on X (Twitter) and has been trying to spread awareness with the hashtag #FindOurDadKorayVural. Unfortunately, they have not heard from him since his abduction.