December 20, 2015

Gov’t using Dink murder case to smear Hizmet movement

A prominent political scientist, retired professor Baskın Oran, has said the trial concerning the 2007 murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has been used by the government to target the faith-based Hizmet movement, which is inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has been targeting the movement, which it argues is part of the so-called “parallel structure,” since a major corruption scandal implicated various high-ranking AK Party officials on Dec. 17, 2013. The AK Party-led government accuses the movement of being behind the scandal in an attempt to overthrow it, but the movement strongly denies the allegations.

Speaking with Today's Zaman, Oran said that calling Gülen “a terrorist” is a bad joke. “They play with our minds. It's a bit much. In the past, they called people ‘communist' in order to smear them, but today they refer to them as ‘parallel.' The trial of Hrant [Dink] is even being used to target the Gülenists, and this really is offensive to the soul of Hrant. You [the AK Party government] appointed the [İstanbul] governor at the time [of the Dink assassination] as interior minister, and appointed the provincial police chief as governor of Osmaniye province.”

Muammer Güler, who was the İstanbul governor at the time of Dink murder in 2007, was appointed interior minister in 2013. Celalettin Cerrah, who was chief of the İstanbul Police Department in 2007, was appointed Osmaniye governor in 2009.

Dink was shot and killed in 2007 by Ogün Samast, an ultranationalist teenager. Samast was given a 22-year prison sentence, while Yasin Hayal, another key suspect in the murder, was sentenced to life in prison for inciting Samast to commit murder.

A retrial began in September 2014 at the İstanbul 5th High Criminal Court after the Supreme Court of Appeals, in May 2013, overturned a lower court's ruling that acquitted the suspects in the Dink murder case of charges of forming a terrorist organization. This decision paved the way for the trial of public officials on charges of voluntary manslaughter.

The “parallel structure” and “parallel state” are terms coined by then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to refer to the Hizmet movement, following the eruption of the major corruption scandal in December 2013.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 20 December 2015, Sunday