More than a thousand police officers equipped with riot gear carried out raids on numerous schools in the Turkish capital of Ankara early Monday, in yet another government-orchestrated operation targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, popularly known as the Hizmet movement.
Samanyolu High Schools, the Atlantik Educational Institutions, several elementary schools, nursing homes and dormitories were targeted. Parents of students gathered at Samanyolu to protest the raids and show solidarity with the institutions, while intellectuals, politicians, legal experts and educational unions condemned the increasing oppression and harassment.
In a moment that encapsulates the political nature of the operation, police asked about preparations being made in the school; when a school official replied that classes would open on Sept. 28, the policemen taunted: “How do you know? Maybe that will be the day your school gets closed.”
The warrant issued by the 5th Ankara Peace Court Magistrate allows searches to be conducted for three days at the educational institutions, which have won a total of 583 medals in international competitions. Riot police units accompanied officials from seven other police divisions, including the Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime, Narcotics, and Cyber Crime Bureaus, during the raids in Ankara’s Yenimahalle district.
The Narcotics Division’s search for drugs was slammed and mocked across the board. The narcotics division officers removed manhole covers and tore apart the backs of chairs; they tasted "a suspicious white substance," which turned out to be bird droppings, and even searched inside tea bags.
During the raids, the police shut off 16 security cameras and proceeded to inspect employee records down to the detail. They broke the glass door of a cabinet where awards, medals and trophies were displayed. They confiscated CDs along with a globe sphere and a ruler. Even the Quran and children’s books were searched.
The manager of the Ali Hasan Coşkun Student Dormitory, Ahmet Arslan was roughed up and handcuffed on allegations of resisting the police after he protested their attempt to search the building without the required permit.
The recent government actions are part of a nationwide crackdown on institutions and individuals sympathetic to the Gülen movement. President Erdoğan has accused the movement of orchestrating a graft investigation against him and his inner circle. The Gülen movement denies the charges, but ever since the allegations surfaced nearly two years ago, operations have escalated, with authorities conducting raids, shutting down schools, and defaming institutions or individuals with ties to the movement.
In May 2014, Erdoğan publicly advised Justice and Development Party (AK Party) supporters not to send their children to any schools affiliated with the movement, vowing: “We will not even give water [to the movement's members].” He also added that a “witch hunt” would be carried out against anyone with ties to the movement.
Erdoğan has ordered officials in AK Party-run municipalities to seize land and buildings belonging to the Gülen movement by any means necessary. The movement strongly denies the allegations, and no indictments have been brought against it.
Published on BGNNews, 23 September 2015, Wednesday
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