Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday hinted the start of his presidential campaign, addressing his Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) mayors, and asked party municipalities to support his fight against what he calls a “parallel structure,” which he said will continue in the run-up to the presidential election.
Erdoğan has claimed that a massive corruption investigation into his inner circle, which became public through raids in which several businessmen close to the government and the sons of three ministers were detained in December of last year, is a coup attempt to overthrow the government, masterminded by the Hizmet movement, which he refers to as “the parallel structure.”
Speaking at his party's Local Governments Consultation and Evaluation meeting on Wednesday, Erdoğan called on the 824 mayors of his party present at the meeting to take back any building given to the use of the Hizmet movement. He said the movement has committed treason against Turkey. “I am calling on all my mayors in a meeting open to the press. The members of this organization at a local level might not know what they are being used for; many in our villages and districts have supported this organization believing them to be pure, clean people serving [the organization] … but the top of the organization and the grass roots do not face the same direction. The grass roots face the correct direction, but the top administration is looking for rewards in very different places.”
He accused the Hizmet movement of openly attacking Turkey's national institutions, values and projects. Erdoğan said it is the responsibility of AK Party mayors to support him. He also called on them to ensure that deputies and members of the AK Party who have resigned from the party over the rift with Hizmet should not be even “allowed to visit your neighborhoods.”
The prime minister accused the movement of having formed a parallel structure nested within the police force and judiciary, and of being “too interested” in Hakan Fidan, the undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). “Do not think that the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 operations [the corruption probe] were carried out to fight corruption. [The rise of] the Great Turkey irritated some.”
Erdoğan also told the heads of AK Party local governments “to start working” to campaign for the presidential election. Although he didn't officially announce his candidacy, he hinted at it saying: “Our party policies are not dependent on individuals. If there are to be any changes, this will take both the party and Turkey forward. I want you to start working. This also means preparing for the 2015 elections.”
The prime minister said the government's fight against the parallel structure and commitment to the settlement process for the Kurdish question will remain in place in the run-up to the presidential election, scheduled for August of this year.
Gezi Park again
Erdoğan also said that if a plebiscite was held in Beyoğlu, the İstanbul district which is home to Gezi Park, the location where massive anti-government protests started in the summer of 2013 over government plans to raze the park and replace it with the replica of an Ottoman-era barracks that would serve as a shopping mall, the majority would vote for the barracks to be rebuilt. “The fact that the AK Party won in Beyoğlu in the local elections is proof of this,” he said.
The 6th Chamber of the Council of State on May 6 ruled to cancel a pedestrianization project in İstanbul's Taksim Square, which included plans to demolish Gezi Park.
On June 10, Amnesty International released a report on the Gezi protests, saying the government's approach to handling demonstrators who participated in the protests has been “abusive.” It noted that large-scale police brutality went unpunished, while hundreds of protesters now stand trial for exercising their right to peaceful protestp
“The Turkish authorities have been relentless in their crackdown on protesters -- be it police violence on the streets or by prosecuting them through the courts. Meanwhile the police enjoy near total impunity. The message is clear: Peaceful demonstrations will not be tolerated,” AI Secretary-General Salil Shetty said.
Published on Cihan, 11 June 2014, Wednesday