October 17, 2015

‘Operations against 'parallel structure' just an attempt to silence opposition’

A report prepared under the leadership of constitutional law professor Mustafa Erdoğan details how an non-constitutional regime was established under the guise of fighting the so-called parallel structure, noting that the struggle against the parallel was really an attempt to suppress voices of opposition.

Prof. Mustafa Erdoğan presented the “Supremacy of Law and Turkey 2015 October Report,” which was prepared by the Freedom Studies Association on Friday. The report details the government-backed operations against the Koza İpek Group, Boydak Group and the Doğan Group, and notes that the fight against the so-called “parallel structure” has turned into a witch hunt meant to silence all opposition.

The “parallel structure” is a phrase coined by Ankara in reference to the movement inspired by the teachings of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen; the government accuses Gülen's movement of being a shadowy covert organization that has infiltrated the state apparatus and is intent on toppling the administration.

“All who falls outside the government bloc are seen and portrayed as enemies who are trying to harm the people. What makes this point of view very dangerous, in terms of rule of law, is that the entire public administration, including the judicial and political ranks, are expected to be in the same ‘ranks’ against those deemed the ‘enemy,’” the report reads.

“The struggle against the parallel structure that has allegedly infiltrated the government has been a major factor in the application of this friend-or-foe politics. Plus, the government has been able to use this to transform into an extraordinary (non-constitutional) regime,” it adds.

Noting that the judiciary was not allowed to perform its duties and that the political atmosphere was such that everyone involved was deemed guilty in advance, the report continues: “Thus, the principle of individual responsibility was ignored and a wholesale punishment was implemented… Since the elimination of Gülenists became an obsession, ‘the struggle against the parallel structure’ became a comprehensive witch hunt that affected everyone in disagreement with the government.”

The report adds that serious doubt has been cast on the sincerity of the government’s claim that the struggle against the parallel structure was about law and democracy. “Because the government first discovered the existence of the parallel structure right after allegations of government corruption was made public in December 2013 [by the alleged parallel structure]. If such a structure truly exists, then since it took place during the period of Justice and Development Party (AK Party) rule, the AK Party would naturally bear the responsibility for it,” it says.

The report adds that the AK Party’s attempt to eliminate the 'Gülenists' from the public sphere seems to have really been just the implementation of a strategy to bring the entire public sphere under the control of the AK Party.

“Plus, by automatically treating its own enemies as ‘enemies of the state,’ the AK Party is attempting to make itself synonymous with the state, and thus establish a party state,” it adds.

The report also points out that another reason the legitimacy of the “struggle against the parallel structure” has been called into question “is because the mechanisms that were introduced with the excuse of fighting the parallel structure have been used against all opposition groups.”

Published on BGNNews, 17 October 2015, Saturday