September 10, 2014

Dissident businesspeople profiled by government, daily says

Under the guise of fighting the Hizmet movement following the graft probes that went public in December, the government has been profiling businesspeople close to Hizmet but also those close to the leading opposition parties all over Turkey, a daily said on Wednesday.

According to the report in the Taraf daily, the owners of 210 companies in the province of Yozgat have been identified as “dissidents.” “It was determined [by the government] that the owners of 210 companies in [the province of] Yozgat, some of which are bakeries and supermarkets, do not support the government,” the daily said.

A list of telephone numbers, addresses and trade registry numbers of dissident companies in the province of Yozgat was sent to officials, the report added.

Following the graft probes of Dec. 17 and of Dec. 25 of last year, the government tried to discredit the probes, as part of which four Cabinet ministers had to leave their posts, as a coup attempt against the government. The Hizmet movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, has been accused by the government of being part of the coup plot against the government.

According to Taraf, a Cosmic Study Group established within the Security General Directorate instructed the police in the provinces to profile owners of companies that do not support the government.

“In line with the instruction, [the local police] began identifying companies which support the CHP [Republican People's Party] and MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] as well as companies close to the Hizmet movement,” the report said.

Noting that Yozgat is the first out of the 81 provinces whose “data” was sent to the government, the report said: “Ankara was provided with the names of 210 shop owners and the political views of members of their family.”

Bakeries are generally rather small establishments with limited financial power. But the report maintained that even owners of bakeries who are sympathizers of the main opposition CHP and MHP have been profiled by the government.

Reportedly, the Yozgat list, of which the daily says it got hold of a copy, is mainly composed of small and medium-sized companies or shop owners. Companies in the food business as well as in the construction and finance sectors appear on the list, the daily said.

Previous reports also indicate that the government is involved in profiling those who do not support it. In another report in February, the daily published a document in support of these allegations that the government recruits public sector employees using “color lists” to avoid people affiliated with the Hizmet movement, CHP and MHP.

“Documents with information regarding candidates for the post of tax inspector, kept on bureaucrats' computers at the Turkish Tax Inspection Board (VDKB), have been obtained by Taraf and confirm the existence of profiling based on color lists,” the daily said at the time. The publication comes in response to the denial of such a practice by Interior Minister Efkan Ala, following a previous report by the newspaper.

Following the corruption probes, more than 10,000 police officers, some of them high-level ones, were reportedly transferred to other, less significant posts by the government.

Published on Today's Zaman, 10 September 2014, Wednesday