July 8, 2014

Order for Hizmet probe is political, not legal, say rights activists

A human rights expert has drawn attention to the possibility that evidence may have been fabricated against the Hizmet movement as a result of the police order for a probe into the movement, while another activist has called it a political order.

The head of the Human Rights Agenda Association, criminal lawyer and academic Günal Kurşun from Çukurova told Today's Zaman on Monday that the police order for a probe into Hizmet institutions is not legal but political.

“This document cannot be explained by law,” Kurşun said, adding that a police officer who receives such an order cannot act in an unbiased manner towards a suspect, because the order seems to demand evidence of a crime whose existence has been presupposed.

Referring to what he called the basic principle of law that there should be 100 percent certainty that a crime has been committed by a given person before pronouncing that individual guilty, Kurşun says the prosecutor who prepared the order has turned this principle upside down. The prosecutor, according to Kurşun, acted on the principle of finding the crime and then the evidence.

“The ill intention is evident because the accusation is not only of being a terrorist organization but an armed terrorist organization,” Kurşun says, noting that this crime doubles the punishment according to the Counterterrorism Law (TMK).

Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER) President Ahmet Faruk Ünsal was more reserved in his comments, saying he had not heard any claims about alleged connections between the Hizmet movement and political murders in Turkey's recent history. The document asks the police to investigate possible suspects in the murders of Father Andrea Santaro and slain Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, as well as the murders at the Zirve Publishing House. Ünsal notes that it is interesting that such connections have only been mentioned recently, despite the long history of these cases.

According to Ünsal, the police order is alarming, as it has an aspect that encourages the fabrication of false evidence. “The police chief should inform the public if he has concrete evidence,” Ünsal urged in comments to Today's Zaman on Monday.

Kurşun notes that the same order asks the police to find witnesses, which is not legal either. “It means 'Create some witnesses if you don't have any',” Kurşun commented.

Kurşun also noted that the police order portrays traveling abroad as though it were a crime. “If you went abroad for pleasure, you cannot explain the purpose of your trip, according to this document,” Kurşun said.

In terms of another instruction to investigate students who attend or have attended schools affiliated with the Hizmet movement, Kurşun said that some individuals are trying to create the perception that it is a crime to attend these schools.

Kurşun also urged the officials responsible to produce concrete evidence of a crime, if they have any.

Published on Cihan, 07 July 2014, Monday