February 12, 2015

Special units established at TEM to monitor Hizmet members

Special bodies called “Parallel Monitoring Units” (PİB) have been established at the National Police Department counterterrorism unit (TEM) branches across 81 provinces to keep records of members of the faith-based Gülen movement, also known as Hizmet, Today's Zaman has learned.

TEM asked its provincial branches to select PİB members carefully. PİB will also be responsible for following the trials of the police officers who have been arrested over charges of spying. PİB members will keep records of the developments at the trials of the police officers in provinces such as Ankara, İstanbul, Mersin, Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa in addition to those attending the trials.

Since a major graft operation became public on Dec. 17 of 2013, then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been continuously referring to the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization that, acting on the orders of foreign powers, is trying to stage a coup against him. Erdoğan claims that the graft investigation was orchestrated by the Gülen movement. He vowed to respond with a counter-operation after the March 30 local elections following which operations began against police officers who took part in the corruption probe and other major probes.

Erdoğan refers to the Gülen movement as a “parallel state or structure,” on the grounds that the movement members in the bureaucracy established a state within the state.

PİBs also closely follow citizens who protest unlawful practices of the government holding demonstrations in front of the courthouses of provinces in addition to symposiums organized by civil society organizations critical of the government. Photos and video footage showing the individuals attending these events are collected by PİB members and then sent to a TEM presidency in the forms of daily reports.

Published on Today's Zaman, 12 February 2015, Thursday