February 18, 2015

Despite readily using term, AK Party rejects proposal to investigate ‘parallel structure’

A parliamentary group proposal made by the opposition to investigate claims of the existence of a so-called parallel structure was rejected by the government on Tuesday, prompting criticism of Justice and Development Party (AK Party) members and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who readily use the term to ostracize and persecute their opponents.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) submitted a group proposal in Parliament on Tuesday evening requesting an investigation into what the term “parallel structure” means. The proposal was rejected by AK Party deputies present at the parliamentary debate.

The term “parallel structure” is generally used by the Turkish president and his associates to refer to the Gülen movement (Hizmet movement) inspired by Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. Erdoğan began using the phrase after declaring the group a “treasonous enemy” subsequent to a corruption scandal involving his family members and members of his inner circle. The scandal surfaced after graft investigations went public on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013. Erdoğan openly declared last year that he would do whatever it takes to eliminate the “parallel structure,” even if this requires a “witch hunt.”

HDP Diyarbakır deputy Altan Tan talked to Today's Zaman on Wednesday, saying: “The ruling party has been using the term parallel structure for over a year now. If there is such a thing, then you [the AK Party] must bring it to Parliament and investigate it. But unfortunately, this is not the case. They [ruling party members] won't move to establish a commission to investigate these claims and make sure the truth is found.”

Tan said that in accordance with the AK Party refraining from establishing a commission to investigate the “parallel state” claims, it also failed to support the opposition's proposal to investigate them. “It is being said: ‘If you're sincere in what you say, then come, let's form a commission and investigate this',” he said.

“By rejecting the proposal they [AK Party members] are contradicting themselves,” Tan added.

Republican People's Party (CHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Levent Gök criticized the actions of his AK Party colleagues, saying: “Every day you [the AK Party] talk about the parallel structure. Then why are you afraid of it being investigated?”

“We as the opposition are declaring that we are in favor of the parallel structure being brought to light. Why are you against it being investigated?” he asked.

“If you're against the parallel structure, you will accept this proposal,” said another CHP member, İstanbul deputy Ali Özgündüz. He also heavily criticized the government, underlining that people are being unfairly persecuted because of the government's vendetta against the Gülen movement. “Out of 13,500 judges and prosecutors, 6,500 have been reassigned,” he said.

The Gülen movement was a known supporter of the AK Party, especially during its first two terms as the ruling party when it carefully guided Turkey from the grip of military tutelage and nudged it toward increasingly democratic rule and European Union values. However, the ties between the AK Party and the civil society organization, which mainly deals in education and interfaith dialogue activities in Turkey and around the world, were all but destroyed after the December 2013 graft investigations. Many believe Erdoğan is using the claims of a “parallel structure” to shift focus from the graft allegations by targeting the Gülen movement.

In addition, a recent Human Rights Association (İHD) report studying violence in Cizre, a town in Şırnak province, revealed that the AK Party's “parallel structure” discourse is protecting those guilty of murders that have taken place in Cizre over the last month.

Back on Dec. 27, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had said that even though clashes in the town had only just begun, the “parallel structure” had claimed on social media that the state had lost control of Cizre and that the city was in chaos. He accused the “parallel state” of triggering tension in the region. “We also noticed that this structure is part of an effort to bring unrest to the nation by exaggerating the events [clashes],” Davutoğlu said.

Published on Today's Zaman, 18 February 2015, Wednesday