Date posted: February 3, 2014
The GYV held a press conference on Monday to respond to recent allegations targeting the Hizmet movement that is inspired by Gülen and to react to what it claims is a large-scale black propaganda campaign being conducted against the movement and against Gülen by circles close to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), particularly since a corruption scandal erupted in December 2013 that implicated three Cabinet ministers’ sons, many state bureaucrats and well-known businessmen. Government officials have accused the Hizmet movement of participating in a plot and using the corruption investigation to damage the government.
GYV Chairman Mustafa Yeşil said there have been some unpleasant developments that are a cause for concern about democracy, the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and freedom of expression in the country. Yeşil stated that limitations on the freedom of expression, obstacles to the freedom of private enterprise, unlawfully wiretapped conversations that breach the right to privacy, the massive profiling of people according to their religious or political affiliations in contradiction with the Constitution, the massive purges of public servants in the spirit of extrajudicial executions, pressure on the press and the silencing of journalists, discrimination against Hizmet movement followers, efforts to restructure the media sector with businessmen who have been awarded public tenders, restrictions of Internet freedom, the Higher Education Board’s (YÖK) attempt to turn academics into government servants, pressure put on and threats made against businessmen, increased use of hateful language, increased accusations of “treason,” efforts to place the judiciary under the government’s control, and more will make Turkey lose the quality of being a state governed by the rule of law.
Yeşil said the GYV is calling on Gül to take action to prevent these risks to the constitutional order, the separation of powers, checks and balances, the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. He said: “The public expects him [Gül] to use his powers and authorities under the Constitution to investigate the interventions that sought to render the law dysfunctional, in terms of the graft and bribery investigations. It is vital for the president, who represents the unity and integrity of the country and the state, to adopt a constructive and proactive approach to this process, as this is crucial to avoid the undermining of social peace, dragging the country into chaos, the victimization of a significant portion of the country via politics, the media and the public and, most importantly, it is crucial for justice to be done.”
When he was asked to give further details about the GYV’s call on Gül, Yeşil said Gül’s powers are designated by law and he represents the authority that has the primary responsibility for a well-functioning state, adding: “Gül can investigate the recent unlawful developments, the massive reassignments of police officers and prosecutors and the profiling allegations through the State Audit Institution (DDK) to ensure the functionality of the law in the country. We, as the GYV, agree that the president should use the powers given to him by law as an independent authority.”
Asked whether they have ever contacted the president to convey their message, Yeşil said they have not been in contact directly, but that they have contacted him through friends.
Stating that there is an intense smear campaign targeting the Hizmet movement as part of the current anti-democratic route the country is taking, Yeşil pointed out some defamatory expressions used by top government officials, such as “parallel structure,” “pineapple republic,” “unlawful organization,” “gang,” “coup supporters,” “spies,” “dens,” “Hashashins,” “false scholar,” “hollow saint,” “fake prophet” and “those who worship people.” Yeşil said, however, that the Hizmet movement has been exposed to such defamatory statements before in its more than 50-year history, adding that the movement was targeted with similar allegations during the period of military tutelage.
Yeşil said that Gülen was found innocent and was acquitted in an eight-year trial. “Targeting Gülen with the same ‘gang’ allegation, of which Gülen was acquitted in a judicial process, is nothing more than an unlawful action. There is no concrete evidence, document or anything else that can prove such allegations.”
Reacting to the allegations against the Hizmet movement, Yeşil also said that the Hizmet movement has never had any secret agenda in its long history, adding that the movement bases all its activities on education, tolerance, dialogue and humanitarian aid.
In recently leaked telephone conversations, a man named “Süleyman,” who introduces himself as a Hizmet follower in the recording, claims that a new political party will be set up by 78 defectors from the ruling AK Party. He also admitted to connections with Israel-linked lobbies and financial circles and predicted that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government would soon fall.
Noting that Gülen had been wiretapped illegally for the last six months, Yeşil said he has never heard of or seen this person known as Süleyman. Pointing to the language this person uses while speaking in the recordings, Yeşil said a person using such language could in no way be linked to the Hizmet movement. “The Hizmet movement has never attempted nor aimed to engage in political engineering in the country during any period. This person called Süleyman has no link with the movement and the Hizmet movement has nothing to do with the ideas this person is talking about or the language he uses.”
Commenting on the man called “Süleyman” who is heard in the tapes, Erkam Tufan Aytav, the deputy chairman of GYV, said that Gülen’s lawyers have filed a criminal complaint against Süleyman, whoever he might be. “This person uses some statements that incriminate the Hizmet movement and prosecutors should launch an investigation of this person. By the way, I want to put attention on another Süleyman. We should also note a bank’s general director whose name is Süleyman [apparently referring to state-run Halkbank General Director Süleyman Arslan, in whose house the police found $4.5 million hidden in shoeboxes during a corruption raid on Dec. 17, 2013]. The same general director to whom the owner of a daily says [in a voice recording revealed in December] ‘Süleyman, please send $ 2 million. I will pay personnel salaries.’ I want to underline the necessity of paying attention to this Süleyman.”
Responding to a question regarding some speculation in the media that Gülen was forcing AK Party deputies close to the Hizmet movement to resign from the party, Yeşil said that Gülen had never wanted any politician to resign from any party. Recalling the resignation of former AK Party deputy Hakan Şükür, which came at a time when the unpleasant arguments against the Hizmet movement intensified last December, Yeşil said that Şükür had visited Gülen and said that he wanted to resign, but Gülen told him not to resign from his party, and Yeşil added that the deputies who have resigned from the AK Party in the last two months have acted on their own initiative. Independent deputy İdris Bal recently made a statement indicating that he didn’t resign from the AK Party on Gülen’s orders and that if this claim is proven with any evidence, he was ready to resign his post as deputy.
Stating that people are being polarized by the hate speech used by top government officials, Cemal Uşşak, the deputy chairman of GYV, said that the defamation campaign that has intensified in the last two months has a long history, adding that whatever negative things have happened in Turkey in the last four or five years, they are immediately associated with the Hizmet movement. Uşşak said that when the Ergenekon and Balyoz coup plot trials started, some people tended to associate them with the movement, adding that someone had also tried to connect the trial of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with the movement when it was launched.
Journalists and Writers Foundation press release
It is sad to note that our country has recently been witnessing deeply worrisome developments regarding democracy and the rule of law. Limitations on the freedom of expression, obstacles to the freedom of private enterprise, unlawfully wiretapped conversations that breach the right to privacy, the massive profiling of people in contradiction with the Constitution, the massive purging of public servants in the spirit of extrajudicial execution, pressure on the press, the silencing of journalists, discrimination, efforts to redesign the media sector with businessmen who have been awarded public tenders, planned bans on the Internet, the Higher Education Board’s (YÖK) attempt to turn academics into public servants, the pressure being put on and threats against businessmen, the increased use of hate-centered language, the increased accusations of “treason,” the efforts to place the judiciary under the government’s control, etc., will make our country lose its character as a state governed by the rule of law.
Politicians’ interventions and statements that hinder the sound conduct of the graft and bribery investigations have also dealt a serious blow to the rule of law. Article 138 of the Constitution regarding the independence of the judiciary has effectively been canceled. The discourse, adopted even by senior politicians, amounts to a hate crime and deliberately polarizes society. The idea that politics is a battlefield and political differences represent warring sides is taking a heavy toll on social peace. Diverse segments of society are otherized, diabolized and demonized. These developments have come to pose great risks to social peace, stability and the economy of the country.
This contradiction with democratic principles and the rule of law is a common problem for all citizens and social groups in Turkey. It should not be difficult to guess that this anti-democratic and unlawful course of events targets not only the Hizmet movement but also other political, civil, ideological, ethnic, economic, religious and sectarian groups that do not obey, submit or yield to the oligarchic network that controls the ruling party.
In this context:
1. There is an intense lynch campaign targeting the Hizmet movement as part of the current anti-democratic route the country is heading in. Senior government officials and pro-government media outlets commit hate crimes by frequently voicing rage-infused and hateful accusations, insults and slander — including mention of a “parallel structure,” a “pineapple republic,” an “unlawful organization,” a “gang,” “coup supporters,” “spies,” “dens,” “hashashins,” a “false scholar,” a “hollow saint,” a “fake prophet” and “those who worship people.” Our recent past is rife with examples of how these efforts to provoke, demean and lynch distract public attention away from the corruption investigation — and how they could lead to tragic events. In a country where some young people wear shrouds and shout slogans saying, “We’ll die if you tell us to die,” and where some government officials talk about “hair-raising state conventions” or “how brothers can be killed for the sake of the state’s future,” we are concerned that there could be a repetition of tragic incidents in our past.
2. We call on President Abdullah Gül to take action to prevent risks facing the constitutional order, the separation of powers, checks and balances, the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. The public expects him to use his powers and authorities under the Constitution to investigate the interventions that sought to render law dysfunctional regarding the graft and bribery investigations. It is vital for the president, who represents the unity and integrity of the country and the state, to adopt a constructive and proactive approach to this process as this is crucial to avoid undermining social peace, dragging the country into chaos and the lynching of a significant portion of the country via politics and the media. Most importantly, this is crucial for justice to be done.
3. It is unfair, unlawful and unjust for senior government officials to otherize the Hizmet movement and make it a target for attacks, despite the fact that they advise us to stick to the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” regarding those who were arrested under the graft and bribery investigation. If there is concrete and conclusive evidence concerning allegations of a “parallel structure,” “gang” or “unlawful organization,” rule of law entails that this evidence should be referred to the judicial authorities for investigation. In statements we made in August and December 2013, we made it clear that if the government has any concrete evidence regarding these claims, it must deliver it to the judicial authorities at once. Under universal law, it is a hate crime to repeat this slander again and again without producing any evidence or taking legal action.
4. The hate speech that has been targeting the Hizmet movement in recent months obviously undermines our common traditions — traditions that have raised so many opinion leaders — as well as our desire for coexistence, social peace and a collective conscience. Millions of people living abroad and at home, particularly Fethullah Gülen’s fellow townspeople from Erzurum, know well who he, the honorary president of our foundation, is, and what his ideals are, what discourse he adopts and what life he leads. The insults and remarks from our interior minister when he was in Erzurum — comments that amounted to hate speech — were hardly reconcilable with the polite behavior or conduct required of a statesman. They will be remembered as some of the most unfortunate statements made in our political history.
5. The claim that senior government officials had said, “If necessary, we can redefine the [Hizmet] movement as a terrorist organization by hiring police officers and prosecutors to manufacture false charges against Hizmet,” as mentioned in our press release dated Aug. 13, 2013, has not yet been denied by government officials. The provocative language used ruthlessly by some government officials and media actors has urged us to be concerned with potential shady plots against the Hizmet movement. The social tension that has been deliberately stepped up paves the way for social provocations. Suspicion is growing stronger that these provocations seek to lay the groundwork to portray the Hizmet movement as a terrorist organization by forcing some people to react to these provocations in a manner we cannot approve. Given the fact that the volunteers of the Hizmet movement would not react in such a way, we are concerned that some artificial provocative acts may be arranged to destroy social peace in our country. It must be remembered that the volunteers of the Hizmet movement will never overstep the constitutional framework or the boundaries of a democratic state governed by the rule of law, and that they will not resort to illegitimate means no matter what unacceptable methods and styles their opponents adopt. The Hizmet movement has made positive and constructive action its guiding principle, and it will continue to defend its rights just as any honest and honorable citizen would do. But it will not be deceived by the plots of shadowy forces, with God’s help and blessings.
To the attention of the public, respectfully.
Source: Todays Zaman , February 3, 2014