Police teams entered and searched the premises of the Malatya Active Businessmen's Association (MAKİAD) on Thursday in a new wave of government-led operations targeting institutions deemed to have an affiliation with the Gülen movement -- a faith-based initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
According to the Cihan news agency, police officers arrived at the MAKİAD building on Thursday evening and told the association's officials that they would conduct a search based on a court decision. After the arrival of the association's lawyers, the search began. As the search continued in the building and no one was allowed inside, members of the association prepared and served çiğ köfte, a traditional dish in Turkey made with bulgur wheat and spices, outside the building.
The police raid was allowed due to a controversial law passed in December 2014 that makes it possible for the authorities to arrest anyone about whom there is “reasonable suspicion,” and not necessarily tangible evidence. With the new law, the threshold for the burden of proof required for obtaining a search warrant was reduced from strong and concrete evidence to mere reasonable suspicion. The police are not only able to easily search any individual, their home and vehicle, but also easily seize the property of all so-called dissidents on the grounds that they have committed a crime against the government.
The raid in Malatya comes on the heels of similar recent moves by the police.
After obtaining a search warrant from the Manisa First Criminal Court of Peace, police raided six associations in the province of Manisa on Tuesday, following on from an operation last week. The Manisa branch of the Turkish aid organization Kimse Yok Mu (Is Anyone There?) was targeted, in addition to other civil society organizations such as the Feza Educational and Cultural Foundation and the Health and Education Association, the Social Aid Association, the Moris Şinasi International Children's Health Association, Manisa Public Education And Teaching, Health and Social Assistance Association and the Aviation Community Sports Association.
Published on Today's Zaman, 08 May 2015, Friday