Professor James J. Silk of the Yale University’s Law School has asked Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti to stop attempts to expel human rights lawyer Tuienmu Ma, an American citizen and Yale graduate, from Kosovo.
Ma is the expert behind the report on the deportation to Turkey of six alleged “Gullenists” teachers for the parliamentary committee investigating the matter. The report found 31 violations by the Kosovo secret service and police during their arrest and deportation. It concluded that the secret operation was illegal and unconstitutional.
The six teachers were later sentenced in Turkey to 56 years in prison for being part of the Gulen Movement. The Turkish state maintains that the movement staged the failed coup in 2016.
Ma later became the then-Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s advisor.
In his letter published by Koha, Professor Silk related the government attempt to deport Ma to his work in Kosovo.
“This conduct, which can only be seen as an attempt to retaliate against a human rights lawyer, simply for doing his appropriate and important work, not only undermines Kosovo’s progress toward democracy and the establishment of the rule of law; it also clearly violates the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Such abuses provide grounds for an investigation of Kosovo’s conduct by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders,” Professor Silk wrote.
On September 24, Ma’s lawyer Tome Gashi and the media wrote that the Ministry of Interior had refused to extend his residence permit. The reason reportedly was his alleged failure to submit an Albanian or Serbian translation of his university diploma, and a bank statement proving a minimum annual income of €5,000.
The decision should come into force after its subject is informed, but Ma has not received an official document yet.
Asked by Exit News on the matter, Gashi said the real reasons behind the deportation attempt are the report on the extralegal deportation of the six Turkish citizens from Kosovo, and Ma’s term as advisor to Kurti. He added that Ma’s has provided the Ministry of Interior with all documents needed.
“It is a pity in what situation we find ourselves with this illegitimate government that claims to evoke American values, while deceitfully and by falsifying the process, attempts to expel an American citizen who has done a lot for Kosovo. Ironically, at the same time it allows tens of thousands Serbs from Serbia to stay in Kosovo for 21 years without any Kosovo documents whatsoever,” lawyer Tome Gashi told Exit News journalist Die Morina on Thursday.
One of the main agencies the report found to have violated the laws during the forceful deportation of Turkish citizens, was the same one that decided not to extend Ma’s residence permit – the Department for Citizenship, Asylum and Migration.
President Hashim Thaci had supported the deportation of Turkish teachers, stating that they “endangered Kosovo’s security”. On the day of his hearing before the parliamentary committee in April 2019, Thaci also scolded the deputies for trusting “a foreign expert [Tienmu Ma] with sensitive state matters.”