July 22, 2014

PM Erdoğan admits July 22 operation carried out on his instructions

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan admitted on Tuesday that an operation staged on July 22 against dozens of high-ranking police officials who had carried out the Dec. 17 bribery and corruption operation was done upon his instructions.

Speaking on a TV program, Erdoğan defended the illegal actions against members of the Hizmet movement, saying they are determined to continue their fight against the movement no matter what happens.

Erdoğan continued to vilify the Hizmet movement, which he accuses of being the parallel state, saying: “Everybody is well aware of our struggle against them [Hizmet]. We made the necessary appointments. We appointed new judges and they will get to work tomorrow. They will be part of our fight against the parallel state.”

The operation against the high-ranking police officials came only a few hours after Erdoğan admitted that he ordered it, which has led legal experts to comment that the prime minister and his government have been working on a plan to turn the Turkish legal system upside down to punish the movement.

Erdoğan also made a similar statement last week that the government has a plan to assign “super judges” to tackle an operation against the faith-based Hizmet movement. Super judges, or penal judges of the peace, refer to judges who have been granted many powers through a recently approved omnibus law introduced by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). These judges are criticized for having been endowed with broad powers over investigations and other courts' rulings.

The prime minister has been harshly criticized for his remarks by observers and legal experts, who say his remarks are a clear indication that the prime minister is directly involved in a planned legal action against a civil society group -- the Hizmet movement.

According to the prime minister's plans against Hizmet, it is already clear which court and judges will handle the legal case against the movement, who the suspects to stand trial in the case are and what these suspects will be accused of -- a process that is diametrically opposed to the rule of law.

The Hizmet movement promotes interfaith dialogue and the resolution of problems through peaceful means throughout the world. However, Prime Minister Erdoğan's AK Party has recently been engaged in a bitter struggle against the movement. This conflict intensified after Dec. 17, 2013, when a major government graft operation became public. Although the prime minister has not provided any evidence to prove his assertions, he claims the operation was orchestrated by the Hizmet movement, which intended to overthrow his government. The movement denies the accusation.

Published on Today's Zaman, 22 July 2014, Tuesday