October 6, 2015

Ministry of Education denies authorizing raid on Gülen-inspired schools

The Ministry of Education denied on Tuesday having authorized a raid on private schools inspired by the faith-based Gülen movement that was conducted nearly two months ago in an official written statement sent in response to an objection submitted to the ministry by a lawyer representing the school group.

After the raids on Burç Schools institutions in the southern province of Adana in August, the school sent a petition of objection to the Ministry of Education regarding unlawful acts committed by auditors that were present at the inspections. The ministry responded with an official written statement, saying that the August inspections were not authorized by the ministry but by the Adana Provincial Security Directorate, revealing that they are not “routine inspections” as was claimed by the police officers and the auditors at the time.

Speaking to Today's Zaman on Tuesday, Serkan Ulufer, a lawyer representing Burç Schools said: “They [police officers and inspectors] were saying that raids were ‘routine inspections' and not authorized by the provincial security directorate but by the governor's office. However, the statement sent by the Ministry of Education confirms our claims [that the raids were authorized by the police]. We [Burç Schools' authorities] were claiming that the aim of the [raids] wasn't to inspect the schools, but to intimidate the people related to them. The statement of the ministry confirms those claims, too.”

An increasing number of schools and institutions sympathetic to the Gülen movement have been targeted by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) following a major graft investigation implicating President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other top Justice and Development Party (AK Party) figures that was made public on Dec. 17, 2013. Then-Prime Minister Erdoğan accused the Gülen movement of instigating the operation in efforts to overthrow his government.

In May 2014, Erdoğan publicly advised AK Party supporters not to send their children to schools affiliated with the movement, vowing, “We will not even give water [to the movement's sympathizers].” He has also said he would carry out a “witch hunt” against anyone with links to the movement. Erdoğan has also ordered officials in AK Party-run municipalities to seize land and buildings belonging to the Gülen movement by any means necessary. The movement strongly rejects the allegations and no indictment has been brought against it.

Published on Today's Zaman, 6 October 2015, Tuesday