Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) officials were forced to leave its affiliate Intercultural Dialogue Center (KADIM) office in the Eyüp district of İstanbul despite a court order ruling that GYV could return to the premises after the dialogue center was unlawfully evacuated by municipal police on Dec. 26, 2014.
Municipal police from Eyüp Municipality evacuated the KADIM dialogue center of GYV, located in Kara Süleyman Tekkesi on Düğmeciler Street in the Eyüp district of İstanbul, which was leased from the General Directorate of Foundations (VGM) for ten years beginning in 2010. In addition to physically forcing out the staff, all of the items inside the building were removed and confiscated by the municipal police. The police officers said at the time that GYV had made changes to the structure of the premises, which GYV denies, and even had that been the case, they would have had 30 days to return it to its original state.
KADIM dialogue center has been operational in Kara Süleyman Tekkesi for the last four years and is used mainly to serve non-Muslims who want more information about Islam and Islamic culture. GYV, whose honorary chairman is Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, is known for its worldwide support of conflict resolution, peace-building and intercultural dialogue projects.
Smear campaigns and police operations are being conducted by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government against individuals and institutions affiliated with the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, inspired by the teachings of Gülen, since a major corruption and bribery investigation went public on Dec. 17, 2013 that implicated some high-ranking government officials and pro-government businessmen. The government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the investigation "a coup attempt" orchestrated by the movement to overthrow the ruling AK Party.
Talking with Today's Zaman, Recep Usta, the GYV official in charge of KADIM, said that GYV applied to the İstanbul 18th Civil Court of Peace for the KADIM office to resume operations on the premises. The court determined on Jan. 9 that there was no legal obstacle to the GYV using the dialogue center and that the organization could return and resume operations. According to Usta, officials from GYV then went to the dialogue center on Jan. 12 but were forced by officials to leave the premises.
Receiving an order from the İstanbul 24th Bailiff Directorate, which enforces court orders, Usta said that officials and lawyers from GYV again went to the KADIM center on Wednesday along with an official from directorate. The directorate official formally returned the premises to the GYV officials and left, but a short while later officials from VGM and Eyüp Municipality and Governor's office came to the center, Usta said. When the VGM officials told them to leave the center and along with others began physically forcing them from the building, the GYV members called the police to help them. However, when police arrived they also forced the GYV officials out of the building.
Usta further stated that there were unidentified people saying, “We are the state here and will not abide by the law [court order]. Do whatever you can.” According to Usta, all the legal processes are completed to resume operations on the premises and have the confiscated property returned but they were removed from the premise by force. “We will continue to seek our rights through legal means,” Usta added.
In addition to acts such as these, the government has been carrying out a huge media campaign to discredit the movement in the eyes of society with pro-AK Party media publishing fabricated news stories regarding the Gülen movement, Hizmet-affiliated institutions and Gülen.
In addition to the media campaigns, some government-backed judicial decisions have also been made against movement followers or individuals and state officers who the government has determined to be close to the movement.
Published on Today's Zaman, 22 January 2015, Thursday