July 22, 2014

Pre-dawn operation part of psychological war against Hizmet

A number of malpractices witnessed during the pre-dawn operation against dozens of police officers as part of an investigation into the Hizmet movement have turned the operation into government-sponsored psychological warfare against members and sympathizers of the movement.

The operation was announced first by journalists working for pro-government newspapers and TV stations who arrived at the residences of the suspects only minutes after the police officers involved in the operation. Journalists from other media organs heard about the operation from their colleagues, which added to suspicions that sources from the İstanbul Public Prosecutor's Office tipped off pro-government media outlets about the operation beforehand.

Internet news site Rota Haber claimed over the weekend that judges and prosecutors involved in the anti-Hizmet investigation had invited a group of journalists working for the pro-government media to their offices and briefed those journalists about details of the planned operation.

In addition, some news sources claimed on Tuesday that journalists working for pro-government media were told by prosecutors and police officials on Monday that an operation would be staged against the Hizmet movement early on Tuesday. The journalists were asked to arrive in their workplaces early in the day to cover the operation.

In line with the tip off, TvNet and A Haber were the first TV stations to ran stories about the operation. They were followed by other pro-government media organs, such as the ATV station and Yeni Şafak and Sabah newspapers.

Journalist Cem Küçük, who works for the Yeni Şafak daily, seemed to know about future details of the operation when claiming on Tuesday that Monday night's operation was “just the beginning” and that it would expand to Hizmet members across Turkey in the days to come. Another Yeni Şafak journalist, Cihat Arpacık, said the police have a to-be-detained list of 250 Hizmet members.

In addition, several pro-government media outlets used the same headline in their websites to refer to the operation -- “Parallel operation in the police” -- boosting suspicions that the “power” behind the operation dictated to the outlets that they speak with a single voice.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan often refers to Hizmet as the “parallel state” or “parallel structure.”

The timing of the operation was also part of the government's psychological warfare. The operation came shortly after midnight on Monday. The Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK), however, do not allow operations before dawn. In addition, the operation came at “suhur,” a time when the suspects were reportedly preparing to eat their pre-dawn meals before fasting during the day.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Nevzat Korkmaz said that detaining the police officers at suhur was part of a plan by the government to discredit the officers and intimidate members of the Hizmet movement.

Independent deputy İhsan Bal also criticized the timing of the operation, which he said aimed to frighten people who have fought terror, theft and corruption. He also said the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government officials are complaining that Israel has been carrying out an operation against Gaza during the holy month of Ramadan, but the government is doing the same against members of Hizmet.

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