June 22, 2014

Opposition says plot against Hizmet a gov't-sponsored ‘coup plan'

An alleged secret plot against members of the faith-based Hizmet movement (also known as Gülen movement), inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, has drawn the ire of the country's opposition parties, former government members and intellectuals, with some describing the plot as a “coup plan” against peaceful civil society groups devised by the government in an effort to make people forget about claims of corruption and bribery leveled against some government officials.

The plot was exposed last week when former Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin submitted a question to Parliament asking if there is a secret plot against Hizmet and if the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) had mobilized all its resources to gather evidence to initiate an operation against the movement.

Şahin resigned from the AK Party in December of last year over a government corruption and bribery scandal. When resigning, the former minister stated that the AK Party was under the control of a “narrow oligarchic group.”

In his parliamentary question submitted on June 20, Şahin said he had received a large number of documents pertaining to an alleged plan, called the “Action Plan,” drafted by the Interior Ministry that ordered intelligence officers to investigate the “archives” of the Hizmet movement and gather evidence to launch a police operation against the group. Şahin noted in his question that the Hizmet movement is known as a peaceful group making efforts to preserve the Turkish nation's faith, scientific and cultural values and promote these values abroad so as to enhance the prestige of Turkey. He added that the government has been using state resources to attack those who feel sympathy for or are affiliated with the Hizmet movement. “Is the government plotting against the Hizmet movement and innocent people?” Şahin asked in this inquiry.

Since the major graft operation on Dec. 17 of last year, Prime Minister Erdoğan has complained that the operation was orchestrated by the Hizmet movement in an effort to falsely implicate him and bring down his government, and he vowed to respond with a counter-operation after the March 30 local elections.

Republican People's Party (CHP) Secretary-General Gürsel Tekin said the alleged plot is “appalling.” “How can a ministry that is responsible for ensuring the safety of a country be engaged in such a plot?” he asked, speaking to Today's Zaman, and he called on government officials to answer the question if such a plot really exists.

CHP parliamentary group deputy chairman Engin Altay said the plot against the Hizmet movement, if authentic, proves that the AK Party government has been involved in a coup plan against civil society groups, and Hizmet in particular, following the corruption investigation that became public on Dec. 17, 2013. “The government wishes to acquit itself of corruption accusations through this plot,” he noted.

A similar plan allegedly devised by the AK Party against the Hizmet movement was revealed in November of last year when the Taraf daily published a document prepared by the National Security Council (MGK) dated Aug. 25, 2004. In the document the MGK suggested a series of measures to hinder the activities of the Hizmet movement.

Şahin also questioned the accuracy of sections of the Action Plan that propose determining who the members of the Hizmet movement are and covertly gathering evidence to be used against them in legal cases.

The Action Plan also recommends that authorities investigate if Hizmet members have weapons and if it would be possible for its members to stage a coup against the AK Party government. In addition, the Action Plan also recommends determining if those who were the subjects of criminal investigations in the last 10 years would testify against the Hizmet movement and suggests that former members of the movement be questioned and protected through state witness protection system.

Şahin said in his parliamentary question that the accusations about Hizmet are insubstantial. The former minister asked if the government is planning to implement an advanced version of the "plot" by looking for "new criminals" and tying them to cases that outraged the public in the recent past.

Şahin said the Action Plan's call for "making up evidence against innocent people" is a tool of a "dictatorial legal system."

The former AK Party deputy and minister also asked if an operation is being carried out against judges, prosecutors and members of the police force as well as inquiring if similar operations against other religious communities are under way.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Oktay Vural accused the AK Party government of plotting against its own people. “The government wants to arrest people in state posts and the business world. It is working to manufacture evidence to prove the existence of what is an imaginary organization. Efforts to this end are unlawful,” he stated in remarks for Today's Zaman.

Günay: Attempt to make people forget about corruption

Former Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay, who also parted ways with the AK Party in late December of last year, said the ruling party has been engaged in various plans to distract people from claims of corruption and bribery leveled against some of its government officials.

“The government does not miss even the slightest opportunity to bring up new topics of discussion to confuse people [about the claims of corruption],” he noted.

According to Günay, both the action plan and groundless accusations made by the prime minister and some government officials are aimed at sweeping the claims of corruption and bribery under the rug.

Former member of the European Parliament (EP) Joost Lagendijk told Today's Zaman that he hopes the Turkish government will provide a response about the alleged plot against the Hizmet movement.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 22 June 2014, Sunday