August 4, 2014

AK Party mayor admits to profiling 11 public officials

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Altınyayla Mayor Ahmet Serttaş admitted on Monday that he ordered the profiling of 11 public officials and drove them out of the district due to allegations suggesting the officials did not vote for the AK Party in the local elections on March 30.

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“That signature [on the document] belongs to me. I ordered the investigation of 11 officials because they were engaged in politics. According to civil servant law No. 657 -- which defines the duties and responsibilities of public servants -- [public officials] are not allowed to engage in politics,” Serttaş, whose signature appears on the profiling document, said in a statement released on Monday.

Mayor Serttaş and Ahmet Sipahi, the head of the local AK Party branch of Altınyayla, allegedly submitted a petition in July to AK Party Burdur deputy Bayram Özçelik with a request to remove from their posts 11 public officials who were engaged in a smear campaign against the government and allegedly did not vote for the AK Party in the previous elections.

Reactions erupted in waves in the district when the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Burdur youth branch president Ahmet Döğer posted a copy of the petition on his Facebook page on Saturday with a note saying: “AK Party Burdur deputy Bayram Özçelik and his friends are operating as ‘kazasker' [Ottoman-era state ministers]. As such, they are obviously conducting assignments and appointments arbitrarily.”

Deputy Özçelik rejected the profiling allegations while admitting that party members might have tendencies towards the practice.

“The AK Party won the municipal elections in Burdur's Altınyayla district. Because of this, the members of the party's organization at a local level might have an inclination towards this kind of practice. Although there might be strong support for profiling, we have not done any, as some claim,” Özçelik said.

This is not the only case in which senior AK Party members have been implicated in profiling allegations since the government began a witch hunt in response to corruption allegations that went public on Dec. 17 targeting Prime Ministers Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's inner circle.

The AK Party government reportedly held a secret meeting at the Finance Ministry in June to make plans to damage the credibility of 100,000 companies considered to be linked to the faith-based Hizmet movement, companies that were already being profiled by the government, the Taraf daily claimed.

In a separate case, on June 22 a chief public prosecutor ordered the Ankara police to carry out an extensive operation profiling academics, businessmen, entrepreneurs, public servants and ordinary citizens affiliated with the faith-based Hizmet movement, according to documents published by Al Jazeera Turk.

On July 24, AK Party Hendek Mayor Ali İnci, was attending a dinner event hosted by his party's provincial administration board, said that he will do his best to push members of the Hizmet movement, a faith-based civil society initiative intensely disliked by Prime Minister Erdoğan, out of the Hendek district of Sakarya province.

Published on Cihan, 04 August 2014, Monday