Doğu Perinçek, the Workers' Party (İP) leader who was given a life sentence in 2013 as part of a trial concerning the Ergenekon terrorist organization, has said he has been “fighting a battle” against the faith-based Gülen movement since the 1970s and that now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is supporting him and the İP in the fight.
In an interview with Turkish news portal Haberdar on Tuesday, Perinçek openly acknowledged his involvement in the escalating government witch hunt against the faith-based Gülen movement, popularly known as the Hizmet movement and inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
“He [Erdoğan] supports us. We are the ones who started this [witch hunt]. We have been fighting with the Gülen movement since the 1970s, not him. … The [Justice and Development Party] AK Party has now come to the same conclusion as us on the [Gülen] movement,” Perinçek stated.
Due to an AK Party government-backed law abolishing specially authorized courts (ÖYM) and reducing the maximum period of detention before a final verdict on an appeal to five years, Perinçek was released in 2014.
After his release he made many statements on various platforms, saying Turkey has turned into a country where “movements, mullahs and religious groups” are widespread and vowing “wipe them all out.”
Since Turkey's largest corruption investigation was made public on Dec. 17, 2013, following police operations in the homes and offices of people from the inner circle of the AK Party, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AK Party leadership have accused sympathizers of the Gülen movement, especially those in the police forces and judiciary, of plotting to overthrow the government. The movement strongly rejects the allegations brought against it.
Since the scandal, a number of business groups, media outlets, aid organizations, civil society organizations, universities, private schools and prep schools that were established by people sympathetic to the Gülen movement have been targeted by government-orchestrated police raids and investigations.
Erdoğan openly announced on several occasions after December 2013 that he would carry out a “witch hunt” against everyone with links to the movement. He has also ordered officials in AK Party-run municipalities to seize land and buildings belonging to institutions that are linked to the Gülen movement by any means necessary.
Published on Today's Zaman, 7 January 2016, Thursday