June 10, 2014

Analysts: Erdogan’s Ruling Party Has “Full Control” over Turkish Courts

Omri Ceren

Zaman on Friday rounded up a series of recent exposés and incidents, published by Turkish media organs, describing moves made by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) to establish what the outlet bluntly assessed as “full control” over Turkey’s judiciary.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has for months been locked in a battle with judiciary figures – as well as with elements of the country’s security forces – as part of a wide-ranging pushback by the AKP against a corruption probe that had engulfed many of the party’s elites, including Erdogan and his family. The pushback has involved, among other things, the purge of literally thousands of judges, police officers, and others deemed by the AKP to be opponents.

A different report published on Friday by Zaman revealed that those purges had even extended into Turkish Airlines, where 20-year veterans were among a group of high-level employees either demoted or forced out of the company entirely:
Mehmet Yılmaz, head of Turkish Airlines’ (THY) line maintenance department, was demoted to a lower position, according to Turkish news outlets on Friday.

Yılmaz, who has worked for the company for 20 years, is among a group of high-level THY employees who have been reassigned in recent months, most of whom were graduates from Fatih University, an institution linked to the Hizmet movement, inspired by US-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

The reassignments, in conjunction with a recent statement made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have generated the perception that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is targeting members of the Hizmet movement. “If reassigning individuals who betray this country is called a witch-hunt, then yes, we will carry out a witch-hunt,” said Prime Minister Erdoğan last month.
The open political warfare has pitted the AKP against rivals from the Islamist Gulen movement, who look to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. A May 10 speech by Erdogan addressed the purges aimed at the Gulenists:
“If this is called a witch hunt, then yes, we perform a witch hunt,” said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a May 10 “consultation and assessment meeting” of his Justice and Development Party (AKP). He was referring to the purge and reshuffling within the Turkish judiciary and police with the clear aim of dismantling the “parallel state” allegedly formed by the Fethullah Gulen movement. “In order to sterilize this dirty water that contaminated the milk, we will either boil or molecularize it,” Erdogan added, using a biological reference to justify an operation on state and society.
Published on The Tower, 09 June 2014, Monday