February 11, 2016

Hüseyin Çelik: Koza İpek Holding usurped by new trustees

Former minister and ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spokesman Hüseyin Çelik said during an interview on Thursday that the seizure of companies under Koza İpek Holding and the appointment of new trustees to its administration is a usurpation.

Speaking to Ahmet Hakan Coşkun of the Hürriyet daily on Thursday, Çelik reacted against the seizure of companies owned by the İpek family, including the İpek Media Group, and said that the family had helped the AK Party government in many charitable ventures in the past, including giving financial support to students and the building of schools.

In late October 2015, less than a week before the Nov. 1 general election, an Ankara court appointed a large number of trustees to replace the management of Koza's subsidiaries, which include media outlets that emerged as the main platform for opposition politicians last year.

“If there is any evidence of a crime, look at the [situation of the İpek] family with regards to the law [of the country]. And as per Turkish law, trustees cannot have authority similar to that of shareholders or members of an administrative board. For God's sake, it is an example of usurpation!” Çelik said.

The holding and the İpek family have long been at the center of pressure from regulators for their alleged support of the faith-based Gülen movement, inspired by prominent Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, against whom President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a witch hunt and started calling the leader of a terrorist organization following the eruption of a corruption scandal that implicated then-Cabinet members and the son of the president in December 2013.

Without providing any concrete evidence, Erdoğan and the AK Party accuse sympathizers of the Gülen movement, especially those in the police forces and judiciary, of being behind the graft probes with the aim of toppling the government. The Gülen movement denies all accusations.

Underlining that the new administrators in the İpek Holding companies appointed by the new trustees are even violating the privacy of the family, Çelik said it is unacceptable and shocking to see these people entering the private rooms of the family and even going to the extent of searching the wardrobes of İpek Holding CEO Akın İpek's daughters.

“I have known the İpek family for more than 30 years. When I see Melek İpek (Akın İpek's mother), I still go to kiss her hand out of respect. Whenever we asked for her help to build schools or donate to the state, she never refused and generously gave for the establishing of a large number of schools,” Çelik added.

According to Çelik, the term “parallel” has become an easy tool among people for defamation. The term “parallel structure/state” was first coined by Erdoğan to refer to the sympathizers of the Gülen movement.

“When there are two candidates for becoming a director or branch manager of a state institution, one accuses the other of being a member of the parallel state. It has reached the extent where a businessman who supported the Turkish Olympiads, organized by the Gülen movement, has been branded in pro-government circles as working for the parallel structure,” Çelik said.

When Coşkun claimed that the parallel structure had oppressed many people during the trial of the Ergenekon clandestine organization in 2007, Çelik replied that whoever did anything wrong must face the consequences within the legal framework; however, similar mistakes must not be repeated today as it is wrong to blame a community for the mistakes of individuals.

Published on Today's Zaman, 11 February 2016, Thursday