December 22, 2015

MEK: Gov’t oppression reminiscent of early years of Turkish Republic

Media Ethics Council (MEK) President Halit Esendir, for whom a detention warrant was issued on Dec. 11 as a part of operations against the Hizmet movement, has said he is being punished because the council has defended freedom of the press and continually reported violations.

Days before the second anniversary of the Dec. 17-25 graft scandal that implicated senior government officials, several people were detained by the police as part of an ongoing government-initiated investigation against a so-called “parallel structure,” while detention warrants were issued for as many as 65 people. The suspects are reportedly being accused of being members and leaders of a terrorist organization.

The operation, conducted by the Bureau for Crimes Against the Constitutional Order of the Ankara Public Prosecutor's Office, is reportedly targeting high-ranking figures of the alleged “parallel structure,” a term coined by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to vilify the Hizmet movement, a civil society organization inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fetullah Gülen.

Esendir is among 73 suspects for whom a detention warrant has been issued. Police searched his home last week, but could not detain him as he was not present.

The president of MEK issued a written statement on Tuesday to condemn the government-led operations against the Hizmet movement. Stating that his name was included in the detention list because he has been critical of the government, Esendir said the government does not tolerate any dissident voice in the media, Turkish media reported.

Esendir asserted that it is ridiculous that he is being accused of membership in an armed terrorist organization trying to overthrow the government, adding that the police raids indeed intend to create a negative perception of the Hizmet movement among the public.

Regarding Gülen's inclusion in the detention list, he said a campaign of defamation has been led against him. “It is a great honor for me to be in the same list as Fethullah Gülen, who has spent his entire life for his country,” Esendir said.

Likening Turkey's current situation to the early years of the Turkish Republic, he claimed that the government established the penal courts of peace to repress and punish the opposition. He likened the penal courts of peace to the Independence Tribunals, which were set up during the Turkish War of Independence to prosecute those who were against the system of government.

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government opened up the penal courts of peace following the Dec. 17 and 25 corruption investigation that implicated several people from the party and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's family.

Published on Today's Zaman, 22 December 2015, Tuesday