Metin Günday, Professor of Administrative Law at Ankara University, has said that detentions and arrests carried out as part of operations targeting Gülen movement – a grassroots initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen – reminds him of the practices in Hitler’s Germany.
Speaking to Özgür Düşünce daily on Sunday, Günday said: “The judiciary must decide whether a movement is illegal or not. Only after that decision can one call them a ‘terrorist organization’. But this is not the case [in operations targeting the movement].”
Referring to the İstanbul Anatolia 5th Penal Court of Peace’s decision to arrest more than 20 people in İstanbul as part of an operation targeting Gülen movement, Günday added: “The judge that gave the ruling said there was no need for a judiciary decision declaring the movement a terrorist organization. He said it was known that the movement established schools across the world with international forces throwing support behind it. The judge just assumed this, saying this was how the movement is regarded by others. Can something like this happen in a state of law? No, it cannot.”
Günday said that the operations against the Gülen movement reminds him of Hitler’s Germany. “Being a Jew was considered a crime in Hitler’s Germany. They would blame you for it even if you committed no crime. The same logic is applied here [in Turkey]. To put in general, one cannot blame others based on claims. One must have solid evidence to support his accusations,” Günday stated.
He also emphasized that penal courts of peace have no place in a state of law.
The penal courts of peace, set up by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in June 2014, have received plenty of criticism for empowering the “judges of peace” who serve in those courts with extraordinary powers, such as the authority to issue search warrants, detentions and the seizure of property. The courts have faced allegations that they are instruments for the enforcement of the government’s wishes by instigating arrests based on the headlines of pro-government newspapers.
Since a corruption investigation came to public attention on Dec. 17, 2013, there have been many police operations carried out targeting shopkeepers, teachers, members of the judiciary, journalists and police officers who are accused of being affiliated with the Gülen movement, which is also known as the Hizmet movement. The graft probe implicated then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, members of his family and senior Justice and Development Party (AK Party) figures.
Erdoğan has accused the Gülen movement of plotting to overthrow his government and said that sympathizers of the movement within the police department had fabricated the graft scandal. Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained and some arrested for alleged illegal activity in the course of the corruption investigation.
In May 2014, Erdoğan publicly advised AK Party supporters not to send their children to schools inspired by Gülen, vowing, “We will not even give water [to the movement’s members].” Erdoğan said he would carry out a “witch hunt” against anyone with links to the movement. The Gülen movement strongly rejects the allegations brought against it
Published on Turkish Minute, 5 June 2016, Saturday