Turkish nationals, İdris Çanakçı and Ekrem Ciğerli, who had been held hostage in Syria, have been released thanks to IHH’s efforts and returned to Turkey. IHH President Bülent Yıldırım said: “I hope we will also hear good news from [journalist] Bashar Qadumi soon.”
IHH has taken yet another step in its humanitarian diplomacy efforts. Çanakçı and Ciğeri have arrived in İstanbul.
Over the past months, IHH mediated with the Syrian officials to ensure the release of journalists Adem Özköse and Hamit Coşkun who had gone to Syria to cover the unrest in the country and later cameraman Cüneyt Ünal who had been jailed in Syria for several months where he had gone to cover the civil war. IHH also mediated with the Syrian authorities for the release of journalists from other nations. IHH teams also ensured the release of many Syrian and Iranian civilians.
In its final move, IHH managed to ensure the release of two Turkish citizens who had been jailed in Damascus.
Following the talks with relavant officials, IHH teams in Damascus first moved to Tehran with Çanakçı and Ciğerci and then to İstanbul.
Çanakçı and Ciğerci were welcomed at Atatürk Airport in İstanbul by IHH President Bülent Yıldırım.
There were emotional moments when the two men met with their family members.
Yıldırım said: “Our two friends were behind bars in Syria. One of them had been jailed for five months while the other one had been jailed for seven months. As IHH, we mediate for exchange of hostages in Syria nowadays. We are making efforts for the release of 48 Iranians at the hands of the opposition groups and for the release of a group of men and women at the hands of the Syrian regime. While making these efforts, we learned that two of our brothers, İdris and Ekrem, were also taken hostage in Syria. We are very happy today over the release of these brothers. I hope, we will also get positive results in other cases in Syria and help release of many others from prison. We will give good news to you in the upcoming days about these. I think, our efforts for the release of jailed individuals in Syria have become one of the most influential moves in the world. Our efforts are under way to ensure the release of Bashar Qadumi. We have had some information about him but since we cannot confirm authenticity of this information, we are not announcing them for the time being. I hope we will give good news to you about Qadumi soon.”
Çanakçı, a Konya local, said he had been involved in educational activities in Damascus for a long while and that he was detained just as he was returning to Turkey. Noting that the time he spent in jail exceeded three months, he said: “I was released because there was no arrest warrant about me. But, I had to wait for 4-5 months to get my passport although getting it would only take 1,5 months. I offer my thanks to IHH, its chairman and staff for their efforts to ensure my release. I have a debt of gratitude to them for their support.”