September 17, 2015

Turkey demands end to political raids on business, education and media

Endless government-backed raids against educational institutions, media outlets and businesses on terror related allegations have drawn widespread condemnation across the board in Turkey.

“A desperate last ditch effort to retain a dictatorship,” and “a ploy to intimidate voices of discontent,” are just two of many terms used by Turkish figures, representing diverse sections and levels of society, to describe the ongoing stream of government-backed raids.

In Wednesday's latest episode, police conducted operations against Melikşah University’s administration building in Kayseri province and detained prominent businessmen Memduh Boydak, CEO of Boydak Holding. The government-backed measures have also recently targeted schools and press outlets such as İpek Media Group and its Chairman Akın İpek, Hürriyet and Posta, among scores of others.

Politicians from opposition parties, as well as a former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy and a minister, have also issued strong reactions. Veli Ağbaba, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, called the measures “an act of desperation of a crumbling dictatorship and a message of intimidation ahead of the November elections telling people to stay in line.” He lamented that the operations against universities, newspapers, businessmen and individuals who have committed no crime, seemed likely to continue.

“[President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is basically viewing everyone who does not share his point of view as an enemy and is trying to intimidate those who do not concede to his authority,” said Nationalist Movement Party deputy Recep Çetin, who slammed the continuous raids against educational institutions – most recently Wednesday’s operation on Melikşah University. “If an education institution has committed any crime then it is up to the judiciary the handle the matter. Nobody has any right to launch such raids against a university. These measures are all wrong and are a last ditch effort of the government and Erdoğan. They will one day pay the price for their actions.”

“Turkey has once again rolled back the years of progress, back into the dilemma of internal threat and internal enemy,” said opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen, who called the raid on Melikşah Uiversity a violation against the right of education. “The continuing lynch campaign which hinders the operation of institutions is an act of intolerance against democracy.”

HSBC Turkey’s former CEO Piraye Antika mocked the dubious terror allegations as nothing more than a pretext for oppression: “The operations trying to align Boydak, Alarko, and Hürriyet with terror have zero credibility and are laughable at best. These [measures] will severely backfire.”

A critical voice also came from within the government, with HDP's Müslüm Doğan, who is serving as the minister of development, saying: “These measures are unacceptable for a democratic society. The country needs to steer away from this path.”

In reaction to the detainment of Boydak Holding’s CEO, former AK Party deputy and famous Turkish football icon Hakan Şükür summed up the mood in Turkey, stating: “Every day our country is waking up to one senseless measure after another. An operation against Boydak Holding which employs 14,000 people. What is the crime? Paying taxes and loving the country.”

The raid against Melikşah University also drew strong condemnation from education unions. President of PAK Eğitim-İş Abdullah Kayışkıran expressed his views: “The operation targeting an institution which has had no illegal practice, [but has made] a world-wide contribution to education, has deeply upset the people of Kayseri.”

His sentiments were echoed by Aktif Eğitim-Sen president Osman Bahçe, who stated: “These oppressive measures, well-known to be entirely political and stemming from a personal vendetta, will harm the trust individuals have in the state – both due to the reasoning and the method by which these raids are being conducted.”

Published on BGNNews, 16 September 2015, Wednesday