June 28, 2014

Reactions to gov't plot against Hizmet movement mount

A recent revelation that a prosecutor conducting an illegal investigation into a social movement, allegedly acting under orders of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, has caused outrage among politicians, members of civil society groups and journalists.

According to Al Jazeera Turkey, Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Serdar Coşkun sent an order to the Ankara Police Department and its Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau (KOM) on June 11 to carry out a secret and unlawful investigation into the Hizmet movement (also known as the Gülen movement). As part of the investigation, the prosecutor asked the police to find out what the “parallel structure” -- a reference to the Hizmet movement -- is exactly, who the members are, what the objectives of this group are, how it is organized and what its human and financial resources are.

Since a major graft operation became public on Dec. 17 of last year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also the AK Party leader, has continuously referred to Hizmet as a terrorist organization that, acting on the orders of foreign powers, is trying to stage a coup against him. He has even likened Hizmet volunteers to hashish-consuming assassins. He has not yet provided any evidence for his claims and accusations. The prime minister has also complained that the graft investigation was orchestrated by the Hizmet movement and vowed to respond with a counter-operation after the March 30 local elections.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala has not denied the existence of a plot devised by the government against the Hizmet movement.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Kocaeli Deputy Lütfü Türkkan has said that Prosecutor Coşkun has committed a crime. “The fact that Prosecutor Serdar Coşkun is writing to state agencies, asking them to produce evidence [that he can use against Hİzmet] is actually an indicator that he himself is committing a crime. This mechanism of manufacturing evidence and the prosecutor will be tried as a criminal organization one day.”

MHP Antalya deputy Mehmet Günal said the revelation is a clear indication that lawlessness has become the norm at the hands of the government. “It is unacceptable for a civil society movement to be targeted because it did not support corruption.”

“I don't want to believe that those who hold stately power are plotting [against a movement],” said Vehbi Dinçerler, a former education minister.

Ufuk Uras, the founder of the Greens and Left Future Party said, “The political will has taken a decision and it is creating the means to implement that decision.”

President of the Human Rights and Solidarity with the Oppressed (MAZLUMDER) Ahmet Faruk Ünsal said the prosecution should be transparent about the investigation. “What concrete event led to the preparation of the prosecutor's order, this should be publicly stated.”

Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Aytun Çıray said: “The state cannot set its own citizens up. Those who attempt this will answer for it one day. Erdoğan is after founding a single-party state, and later a one-man state.” He said those who have been part of the alleged plot against Hİzmet and those who have assisted them will eventually answer before the law.

Another CHP deputy chairman, Faik Öztrak said the revelation of the alleged plot indicated that the country is being governed through lies and untruths. "And you can't have democracy in a country being governed with lies," he said.

Former Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin, who is currently an independent deputy, has raised a parliamentary question demanding a response from Interior Minister Efkan Ala about the alleged government plan to “finish off Hizmet.” Şahin said in his query text that he had received a large number of documents pertaining to the alleged plot showing that the government had mobilized all its resources to gather evidence to initiate an operation against the movement, which he said is completely illegal as it contradicts the principle of finding criminal activity from evidence, not the opposite.

Published on Today's Zaman, 27 June 2014, Friday