Mohammad Behzad Fatmi
As the foreign minister of Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu, visits New Delhi from August 18-20 for diplomatic parleys with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj, here's a list of questions that must be asked to him should he call a press conference:
1. During your last visit to Pakistan you had said, "Turkey fully supports Pakistan’s position on Jammu and Kashmir" and had also backed Islamabad’s demand to send an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) delegation to the Kashmir Valley to investigate the alleged human rights violations there. Do you still stand by this statement?
2. A German probe has recently revealed that your government and president Erdogan cooperate with Islamist terrorist organisations across Middle East. Additionally, there is little doubt that many Turkish cities – especially in the southeastern part of the country - have long served as a safe haven for the brutal terrorist group ISIS. What steps is your government taking to reassure the world that these practices will be abandoned?
3. Turkey ranked 99 in the press freedom index in 2002 when your Justice and Development Party (AKP) first came to power. After AKP’s three terms in power, Turkey’s position as of now in terms of press freedom is 151 out of 180 countries.
Turkey’s ranking may go down even further as your government has recently closed over 100 broadcasters, newspapers, magazines, publishers and distribution companies. Don’t you think these practices are incompatible with democracy which your government is claiming to have defended on July 15?
4. Your government claims to be acting under the rule of law, but in a very deplorable manner on July 30, Turkish police detained the wife of journalist Bulent Korucu (read Bulent Koruju) when the journalist himself wasn’t found at his home. Police also threatened Mr Korucu’s children that the next time they will detain them if their father does not show up. Which Turkish or international law prescribes such an action?
5. Italy has named President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son Bilal in a money laundering investigation connected to the alleged 2013 corruption scandal in Turkey. Reacting angrily on the report President Erdogan said deal with mafia not my son” which prompted a retort by Italian PM Matteo Renzi.
In a Tweet PM Renzi said: "In this country the judges follow the law and the Italian constitution, not the Turkish president. That’s called 'the rule of law'."
Don’t you think President Erdogan’s statement was illogical in the first place and PM Renzi’s retort embarrassed him further?
5. Many Indian students and academicians were part of the 15 universities that have been shut down by your government in the aftermath of the coup attempt. Not only those students are unsure of what would now follow but have also lost their scholarships that they were getting from these universities.
The academicians have lost their jobs and their bank accounts have been frozen as your government has taken over Bank Asya. One of those academicians’ mother is suffering from cancer here in India. He has lost all his savings and is now struggling to get her treated. What involvement did these Indian students and academicians have in the coup attempt that they are being so terribly victimised?
6. In the post-coup purge more than 1,000 schools have been shut down by your government. The teachers of those schools became jobless, and on top of that the licences of 21,000 teachers have been cancelled. There is also an international travel ban against them. Does your government want them to live a desperate life in Turkey?
7. Your government wants to close Gulen-inspired schools in India. Dozens of Indian teachers are employed and thousands of Indian students are studying there. What alternative are you offering to those teachers who will become unemployed and those students who will no longer be enrolled in their schools?
8. There has been a consistent effort by President Erdogan to revive the Ottoman past in Turkey. Many reports suggest that he wants to surpass the popularity of modern Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
In India as well we have noticed that Turkey’s ambassador and consular general constantly meet with Muslim religious leaders. Ambassador Burak Akcapar went to Delhi’s Jamia Masjid to convince the Shahi Imam to praise President Erdogan in a Friday sermon. Is Erdogan trying to re-establish Caliphate?
9. An arrest warrant has been issued for Turkey’s most famous footballer of all time Hakan Şükür (read Hakan Shukur) in last month’s coup investigation. As he wasn’t found, his father has been arrested. What relation does Mr Şükür have with the coup? And how do you justify arresting his father when the suspect himself isn’t found?
10. A diabetic teacher, Gökhan Açıkkolu (read Gokhan Achikkolu) lost his life after being held for 13 days in police custody in Turkey. He was arrested in the wave of arrests that followed the coup attempt. Reports suggest that he wasn’t provided the necessary medication he needed for his disease and was subjected to torture.
Furthermore, his family wasn’t allowed to bury him in a normal cemetery in Istanbul. The authorities wanted him buried in the newly built "traitors' cemetery". Aren’t these too regressive, brutal and inhumane practices to be adopted by a country which claims to be different from other Middle Eastern countries?
11. During the "democracy watch" many pro-government Diyanet (Presidency of Religious Affairs) imams said in speeches in front of cheering crowds that the properties of Gulen sympathisers are spoils of war and therefore can be looted, violated and used by anyone. Many have even said that their mothers, sisters and daughters can be considered as war slaves.
Which Turkish law, international law or Islamic law serve as the basis of these horrible statements? Do you support them and if not, have you condemned them?
12. Last year, when Turkey downed a Russian jet every senior government official was boasting to have played an important role in the decision to hit it. But when it became clear that the step has horribly backfired, your government started to shift the blame. Many linked it to the Gulen movement.
And now within a period of 10 months President Erdogan has apologized and traveled to Russia to meet with President Putin.
Two questions: 1) Why are you using the Gulen movement as a scapegoat in everything that goes wrong in Turkey, and 2) Why there is such an unpredictability in your foreign policy?
13. The refugee crisis in the region is being used by your government as a tool to blackmail Europe and manipulate their policy towards Turkey. Turkey is also using it to force Europe to turn a blind eye to increasingly degrading democracy in the country. Do you think this policy helps in the long run?
14. Many in the NATO countries have demanded that Turkey should be expelled from the alliance due to its alleged support to the ISIS and also its ever degrading record on human rights and rule of law. How do you respond?
15. You are scheduled to meet with Vice President Hamid Ansari. Mr Ansari is a recipient of an honorary doctorate from Mevlana University, Konya, Turkey which has now been shut down by the Turkish government on charges of being an institution of a "terrorist organisation".
Will you say that India’s vice president holds an honorary degree from an institution of a terrorist organisation?
Published on DailyO, 18 August 2016, Thursday