November 18, 2015

Opposition slams Kaynak Holding takeover, calling it stain on democracy

Opposition politicians have slammed the appointment of trustees to Kaynak Holding, which consists of 23 companies, including the country's largest publishing house, calling it “a stain on democracy” and underlining that those responsible will answer to the law.

In a controversial move, the İstanbul 10th Penal Court of Peace ordered the appointment of the trustees to the management of the holding. On Wednesday morning several trustees, escorted by police officers, went to the headquarters of Kaynak Holding in Bağcılar, İstanbul.

Republican People's Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Eren Erdem said the appointment of trustees has become “a tradition,” referring to the recent takeover of Koza İpek Holding, and called the seizure of Kaynak Holding “a stain on democracy.”

Speaking to reporters in a press conference on Wednesday, Erdem said the seizure of the 23 companies of Kaynak Holding was made possible by the precedent set in the takeover of Koza İpek Holding in October. Erdem said the seizure of companies by the government must come to an end.

On Oct. 26, an Ankara court ordered the takeover of Koza İpek Holding, which owns the İpek Media Group, appointing trustees to the management of its five critical media outlets -- Bugün TV, Kanaltürk TV and radio station and the Bugün and Millet dailies.

Erdem said trustees were being sent to firms owned by the opposition to bankrupt them, adding that the trustees appointed to Koza İpek receive a total of TL 790,000 a month, but that the circulation of the Bugün daily has plummeted to 5,000.

Before the takeover, Bugün was one of the most read broadsheets in Turkey.

MHP deputy slams AK Party for targeting civil society organizations

Erkan Akçay, a deputy of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), told Today's Zaman on Wednesday that the AK Party is calling civil society organizations such as the Hizmet movement, terrorists, while conducting business with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The MHP has long accused the AK Party of fraternizing with the PKK, under the guise of a settlement process that was launched at the end of 2012 between the government and jailed leader of the PKK Abdullah Öcalan to settle the country's long-standing problem with terrorism.

“Operations to take over companies with clean records, that have not been the target of any speculation in the past, is nothing but vengeance,” said Akçay. “They [government] attack with such hatred and vengeance that they use the tool of trusteeship.”

Akçay added that those who instigate these “illegal operations” will answer to the law.

Kaynak Holding has been a target of government-orchestrated police raids due to its deemed affiliation with the Hizmet movement, also known as the Gülen movement, a grassroots initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AK Party launched a self-declared war against the Hizmet movement after a corruption probe went public on Dec. 17, 2013, incriminating senior members of the government, the sons of three now-former ministers and Erdoğan's own family members.

Erdoğan accused the movement of being behind the probe and attempting to overthrow his government. The movement strongly rejects the claims. He regularly refers to members of the Hizmet movement as the “parallel structure,” a derogatory term used to vilify members of Hizmet as a threat to Turkish national security.

DSP leader: I wish the government could seize companies supporting PKK

Masum Türker, the leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP), said he wished the AK Party could instigate operations against companies supporting the PKK, instead of targeting civil society organizations, saying, “I wish they [the government] could have instigated operations against companies openly funding the PKK under the guise of taxes.”

Speaking on Samanyolu Europe, after the station's Turkish branch was recently taken off a state-owned satellite service for criticizing the government, Türker said the government is using the judiciary to do its dirty work. Türker added that when the government is asked about such operations it says, “I didn't do it, the judiciary did.”

CHP deputy Atıcı: AK Party bent on destroying everything opposed to it

CHP Mersin deputy Aytuğ Atıcı said on Wednesday, that the AK Party is bent on destroying everything that does not side with it, but warned the government that everyone needs the law and that the AK Party might one day be in need of the laws it is currently abusing to suppress opposition.

He said that the government is attacking publishing houses because it cannot put forward any ideological debate. “Because they [government] cannot put forward their case with any cogitation, any time a debate is started regarding the rule of law, they use the judiciary to suppress [dissidents].”

Atıcı said the arbitrary manner of how the trustees are being appointed must be scrutinized. “If there is a sense of vengeance behind this [takeover], then that is the most terrifying thing.”

The CHP deputy also called for the trustees to be investigated for any links to the AK Party, referring to potential favoritism within the trusteeship process.

The trustees appointed to Kaynak Holding are set to receive TL 5,000 from each company board they serve on, totaling a staggering TL 105,000 a month per trustee.

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