Unimpressed by Turkish ‘parallel structure’ defense, MEPs approve critical report


Date posted: March 4, 2014

BRUSSELS

A European Parliament (EP) committee has approved a report on Turkey that criticizes the government’s handling of a corruption investigation, despite a last-minute letter from the Turkish government claiming that a set of controversial measures taken in the wake of the probe were designed to fight a “parallel structure” within the state.

The report, which was approved by the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) late on Monday, expresses deep concern at developments with regard to a corruption probe looking into allies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that erupted with a wave of detentions on Dec. 17, 2013. The government has responded by reassigning thousands of police officers as well as judges and prosecutors, including those involved in the probe, and by introducing controversial amendments to a series of laws that critics say will tighten the government’s grip on the judiciary and the Internet.

The report, written by Dutch Christian Democrat parliamentarian Ria Oomen-Ruijten, expresses “deep concern at the recent developments in Turkey with regard to allegations of high level corruption; regrets the removal of the prosecutors and police officers in charge of the original investigations, as this goes against the fundamental principle of an independent judiciary and deeply affects the prospects of credible investigations; regrets the serious breakdown of trust between the Government, the Judiciary, the Police and the media; urges, therefore, the Government of Turkey to show full commitment to the democratic principles and refrain from any further interference in the investigation and prosecution of corruption.”

The report included further criticism targeting the new laws related to the Internet and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) after members of AFET approved a series of “draft compromises” to that effect during Monday’s vote.

In an effort to convince the parliamentarians not to approve the proposed amendments, Turkey’s EU Affairs Ministry sent a 10-page letter to the members of AFET, claiming that there are “misunderstandings” in the EP regarding the new legislation and that the controversial laws regulating the HSYK and Internet access were designed to fight a “parallel structure,” a term invented by Prime Minister Erdoğan to refer to what he says are adherents of the Hizmet movement of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen within the police and the judiciary.

“The recent investigations have demonstrated that there is an organization within the state; in fact a ‘parallel structure’,” said the letter, which was sent to the European parliamentarians hours before the vote in AFET. The letter accused this organization of “setting a plot against the government at a time when Turkey is entering an election period”; argued that one needs to comprehend the “graveness of the situation” in order to understand the government reaction; described the existence of such a parallel structure as “the greatest threat to the rule of law and democracy”; and promised that “getting rid of the parallel structure will pave the way to implement deep-rooted political reforms in a swift and sustainable manner.”

Speaking to Today’s Zaman, EP sources indicated that the letter was far from being convincing, with some saying that it made a fool of European parliamentarians who have been closely following the developments in the aftermath of the Dec. 17 probe. The sources insisted that the government should fight within the legal framework if the alleged parallel structure really exists and lamented that the government actions since Dec. 17 have dealt a big blow to the independence of the judiciary.

Critics say the new HSYK law effectively destroys the independence of the judiciary by bringing the body, which is in charge of the appointment of judges and prosecutors, under direct government control.

The Turkish letter, on the other hand, defended the new HSYK legislation and dismissed criticism that the post-Dec. 17 reassignments within the police and the judiciary are an attempt to bury the corruption allegations. According to the letter, the reassignment of judges and prosecutors is due to an HSYK investigation initiated because some prosecutors failed to inform their superiors about the investigations they carry out. The prosecutors have been appointed to new posts “in order to ensure a fair process of examination” by the HSYK, according to the letter. The reassignment of police officials, it said, is part of a “routine personnel policy of the Ministry of Interior.”

Oomen-Ruijten’s report, which is due to be voted on next week in the EP, “expresses deep concern at the new law on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors [HSYK] and points out the strong, central role conferred upon the Minister of Justice, which is not in line with the principle of an independent judiciary as a necessary pre-condition for a fully functioning democratic system of checks and balances; stresses that the rules governing the election and composition and functioning of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors should be fully in line with the criteria of the European standards.”

It says the Internet law “introduces excessive controls and monitoring on internet access and has the potential to significantly impact free expression, investigative journalism, democratic scrutiny and access to politically diverse information over the internet” and calls on Turkey to revise the law in line with European standards on media freedom and freedom of expression.

Gezi protests

The report also criticizes Turkey for “excessive violence” by the police against protesters in last summer’s Gezi Park protests. The report “regrets the apparent failure of the courts to penalise all those State officials and policemen responsible for excessive violence and serious injuries against Gezi Park protesters.”

In response, the Turkish EU Affairs Ministry’s letter said the Gezi demonstrations “exceeded the limits of peaceful assembly” and said the report’s mention of the “apparent failure of courts” to penalize those who were responsible for excessive violence are “groundless” given that investigations into allegations of disproportionate use of force are still ongoing.

Source: Todays Zaman , March 4, 2014


Related News

Kurdish paper Rudaw’s interview with Fethullah Gulen

The Gülen movement’s stance toward the Kurdish issue has become ever more questioned since the Turkish government’s recent targeting of the Hizmet movement. A close analysis, however, suggests a complex picture.

Tensions rise in Germany’s Turkish diaspora, mirroring splits in Turkey

The group has been active in Germany for many years, operating 150 tutoring centres in the country, 30 government-recognised schools and a dozen interfaith dialogue projects. It has long been seen as a moderate Islamic group although it has faced criticism over a lack of transparency.

Interview about Hizmet Movment at Maxwell School of Syracuse University

Tosca Bruno-Van Vijfeijken, Director of  Transnational NGO Initiative at Maxwell School of Syracuse University inteviewd Dr. Alp Aslandogan, President of the Alliance for Shared Values. This interview took place before Dr. Aslandogan’s lecture at Maxwell School on Hizmet Movement on September 22, 2015.

Gülen says planned assassinations of prominent figures in Turkey could be blamed on him

In a video shared Sunday night on the Herkul.org website, where his speeches are aired, Gülen said after a graft probe in 2013 and the July 15 coup attempt, government circles are now planning to pin the blame on him and his movement, also known as Hizmet, for the planned assassination of several famous figures in Turkey.

HIzmet centre takes on Erdogan regime

The London-based Centre for Hizmet Studies has accused Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his regime of systematically trying to provoke the followers of the Hizmet Movement into violence and portray the movement as a violent organisation.

Fatih University graduates receive Feb. 28-like treatment at İstanbul University

Some graduates of the İstanbul-based Fatih University, affiliated with the faith-based Hizmet movement, have become the latest victims of the battle launched by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government against the movement, as they have been subjected to apparent discrimination during post-graduate interviews at state-run İstanbul University, reminiscent of the days of the Feb. 28 military coup.

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

Gülen urges patience over prep schools row

The real problem is not an AK Party-Gülen movement conflict

Thousands Are In Turkish Prisons For Downloading This App

Erdoğan’s accusation that Hizmet organized the coup attempt is noxious and absurd

Teacher abducted from Malaysia subjected to beating, torture in Ankara: cellmate

India must understand Erdogan’s ideological motives for seeking extradition of Gülenists

Gülen sees peace wherever Huntington sees clash

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News