Nigerian Daily Trust Editorial*
Various methods which critics consider to be draconian and obnoxious are deployed by the government of Turkey to further clamp down on Turkish citizens who are averse to the continuous political and economic instability in the country. The new decrees, numbered 679, 680 and 681, authorize the Turkish cabinet to revoke the citizenship of people under investigation but who remain abroad if they fail to respond to a summons to return to Turkey within three months.
According to government decree No. 680, individuals who are facing administrative or judicial investigation or prosecution over charges of “crimes against the government,” “armed rebellion against the government,” “armed attack and assassination of the president” or “membership in an armed terror organization” will be summoned to testify. If they cannot be reached and understood to be abroad, the public prosecutor will refer the case to the Justice Ministry within a month.
The Justice Ministry will then issue a “return home” notice in the Official Gazette for those who are overseas. If they don’t respond to the call within three months, their citizenship will be revoked by cabinet decision upon a proposal from the Justice Ministry. Citizens of Turkish extraction resident in other countries alleged to have links with the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen currently living in the U.S are the ones targeted by these decrees.
Though President Recep Tayip Erdogan of Turkey mounted immense pressure on his U.S counterpart Mr. Barack Obama and his Vice President Joe Biden to extradite Gulen to Turkey to face trial, the duo at separate meetings with Erdogan told him that the laws of America are sacrosanct and that not even its President can influence course of justice.
Apparently, that was the dilemma of the government of Turkey, so it has to go back to the drawing board to collate evidences against Gülen which took about seven months to get hold of. President Erdogan enjoys the current political crisis in Turkey as that will confer on him powers to descend on his opponents and rule by fiat without recourse to parliament.
His decrees to abrogate and revoke the citizenship of his opponents is a virtue of a drowning man. Most Turkish citizens fled for safety and fear of being killed or arrested and put in prison without trial.
Thousands of people, critical of the government or sympathizers of the faith-based Gülen movement, fled Turkey following a failed coup attempt on July 15, immediately after which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement, a global civil society movement inspired by the views of the US-based Turkish scholar Gülen.
The AKP government, under emergency rule, has taken over hundreds companies, seized the assets of businessmen and shut down institutions linked to the movement. Despite the fact that Gülen denied the accusation and called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, President Erdoğan – calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” – and the Turkish government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
More than 115,000 have been sacked from state institutions, nearly 83,000 detained and over 41,000 arrested by Turkish authorities on charges of links to the Gülen movement and the failed coup. Sympathizers of Hizmet globally are known for building institutions in the education and health sub-sectors of the economy; they are also very efficient and effective in inter-faith dialogue, conflict resolution and the setting up of foundations for empowerment programmes as well as community development.
Published on Daily Trust, 14 January 2017, Saturday