Parents react to auditor, police raid of Hizmet-inspired school

Four tax inspectors from the Ministry of Finance and the police conducted a raid of the Hizmet-affiliated Çukurova Burç College in Adana on Saturday. (Photo: Cihan)
Four tax inspectors from the Ministry of Finance and the police conducted a raid of the Hizmet-affiliated Çukurova Burç College in Adana on Saturday. (Photo: Cihan)


Date posted: March 23, 2015

MEHMET ŞAHİN/ ZİYA İPEK / ADANA

In yet another government-backed operation targeting the Gülen movement (Hizmet movement), four tax inspectors from the Finance Ministry and a number of police officers conducted a raid on Saturday at a private school affiliated with the movement in the southern province of Adana, leading to protests from parents of the school’s students.

Çukurova Burç College, one of Adana’s most successful high schools, was raided and searched by four auditors and some 40 police officers early on Saturday over alleged tax violations by school administrators. The inspections were performed while about 800 students were in class.

School administrators and parents of the students reacted harshly to the inspection, which they say were performed in an unlawful manner reminiscent of Turkey’s old state-of-emergency periods.

Burç Schools General Manager Sultan Sözeri criticized the presence of the police officers accompanying the inspectors, saying that auditors can carry out inspections at the school whenever they want. Sözeri said the raid aimed to create a negative image of the school. “I know that parents who see this scene will be more willing to send us their children,” he said.

The school is one of the most prestigious and successful schools operating in Adana. The province’s most successful student — who received the highest score on this year’s Transition to Higher Education Examination (YGS) exam, the first round of the university entrance process — came from the private Çukurova Burç College.

Stating that the school had been inspected by the Finance Ministry just one month before, Sözeri said the search and the raid were illegal. Sözeri also underlined that the school is known in Adana for its success.

The school’s lawyer, Ruhi Hallaçoğlu, also lashed out at the unlawful nature of the raid, saying: “There is no other example of such a raid performed with 40 police officers in a school — either in Turkey or the world — during hours when students were in class.”
Hallaçoğlu also said the police began to search the school without showing identification, adding that the raid was conducted based on a photocopy of a court order.

Harsh reactions from parents of students

Parents also reacted to the raid, rushing to the school when they were informed of the incident.

One parent, Süleyman Kıvrak, told Today’s Zaman that the raid was unlawful. “The fact that the raid was performed while the students were still in classrooms is very saddening. We send our children to school to learn. Can you imagine how the students will be psychologically affected due to this raid? As parents we will seek all kinds of legal redress on this issue,” Kıvrak said.

Another parent, Ali Erdoğan, defined the raid as a “disgrace,” adding: “I am trying to raise children who will be valuable to their country in the future. However, someone is trying to prevent me from doing this.”

Kürşat Ekşi, another parent, told Today’s Zaman that his daughter is nervous and has been crying constantly since the raid. “We are sending our children to school in order to raise children who will be valuable to their motherland and their nation. … There are many schools where students use drugs. They [the police] should go and raid them instead of this school,” Ekşi said.

Saying that his children have been attending Çukurova Burç College for four years, Yunus Mecidiye said: “Our children are growing by learning their national and spiritual values at this school. We cannot understand why the raid took place. The police displayed informal behavior during the raid. … [The students] are now psychologically depressed due to the raid. It is also meaningful that this raid was performed just after the results of the YGS, in which 500,000 students [across the country] failed to even receive a passing grade of 180.”

In an apparent reaction to the raid, a total of 84 new students were registered at the private school for the coming 2015-16 academic year. One of the parents who registered his child at the school for the next academic year, Yasin Türkoğlu, told Today’s Zaman that he was planning to register his child at the school in August or September, but he applied to register immediately upon learning about the raid.

Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen and the movement inspired by him have been direct targets of the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ever since a corruption probe implicating some senior members of the government became public on Dec. 17, 2013. Erdoğan, who refers to Hizmet as the “parallel state” or “structure,” accuses the movement of being behind the corruption investigations.

The government, led by Erdoğan at the time, took action to ensure the closure of schools opened by Gülen’s followers around the world. Gülen-inspired institutions and schools in Turkey, such as Çukurova Burç College, are also under intense pressure from the government.

In May of last year, then-Prime Minister Erdoğan publicly advised supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) not to send their children to schools inspired by Gülen. “We will not even give water to them [members of Gülen movement],” he vowed.

He also ordered officials at AK Party-run municipalities to seize land and buildings belonging to the Gülen movement by any means.

Earlier incidents targeting Hizmet schools

The raid is not the first time a Hizmet-inspired school was targeted by the government. A series of decisions rezoned land from private to public use.

In September of last year, the Antalya Metropolitan Municipality changed the zoning plans of local schools inspired by the Hizmet movement in compliance with a call made by Erdoğan in June.

Complying with Erdoğan’s call, the Antalya Metropolitan Municipality, which is run by the AK Party, decided to change the status of land in the Uluç neighborhood from “private educational facility” to “secondary school area.” The property belongs to the Hizmet-inspired group Toros Educational Institutions, which has yet to build any kind of educational facility on the land.

The municipal council also approved the zoning plan change to land belonging to the private Toros Primary and Secondary School in the Muratpaşa Meydan Kavağı neighborhood. The zoning plan of the school was changed to an “official school area.”

Toros Educational Institutions objected to the municipality’s plans to change the zoning of the land in Uluç, saying that the municipal council’s decision is groundless and unlawful.

In July of last year, the Bolu Municipality closed two schools belonging to businessmen associated with the Hizmet movement. The municipality hung a sign in front of the schools claiming that the buildings were not licensed and that the buildings did not conform to municipality regulations. In August, the same municipality constructed a road inside the courtyard of Fatih Koleji, which is also inspired by the movement, despite the fact that the school is surrounded by empty plots of land and that there are no residential areas around the school.

The closure of two Hizmet-inspired schools in Bolu followed similar moves in other parts of Turkey. In early June, the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality stopped the construction of an education complex on privately owned land on the pretext that the land would be used as a green area and meeting point in the event of an earthquake.

The municipality, however, failed to obtain the required approval from other authorities in the province to halt the construction of the education complex. They said the complex belonged to Fetih Educational Operations (Fetih Eğitim İşletmeleri), which has close ties to the Hizmet movement.

In July, the municipality removed an advertisement in İstanbul’s Mecidiyeköy neighborhood for the Fem prep school, which helps students prepare for university entrance exams. The municipality claimed that the school had violated the municipality’s advertising regulations.

The school, however, said the municipality had approved the advertisement, for which all taxes had already been paid. It also said the real reason behind the municipality’s decision was that Fem is inspired by the Hizmet movement. The school filed a complaint against the municipality with the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, arguing that its billboard had been removed for no legitimate reason.

Source: Today's Zaman , March 22, 2015


Related News

Canada’s Green Party leader on human rights violations in Turkey: I am entirely horrified

Canada’s Green Party leader and lawmaker Elizabeth May said during a panel discussion held at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa on widespread human rights violations in Turkey that “I am entirely horrified by the behaviour of the Turkish government. We need to be more speaking out loud.”

CPJ report: Turkey world’s 10th most dangerous country for journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Wednesday released a special report for 2014 designating Turkey is the world’s 10 worst country for journalists, once again underlining the country’s deteriorating situation for freedom of expression and free media.

Amnesty: 500,000 Kurds displaced in Turkey’s Southeast due to curfews, crackdown

Tens of thousands of residents of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sur are among an estimated half million people forced from their homes as a result of a brutal crackdown by Turkish authorities over the past year which may amount to collective punishment, said Amnesty International in a new report.

“Like a Storm”: Deportations Stun Turks in Kosovo

The families of six Turkish nationals hastily deported from Kosovo to Turkey in a secretive intelligence operation speak of violence, fear and uncertainty.

Fenerbahçe’s Yıldırım calls on fans to attend protest

“We consider the dissemination … of wiretaps of Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi’s conversations an operation, and we condemn and refuse to accept these kinds of activities,” Yıldırım said. Gülen filed criminal complaints over the illegal wiretaps and against the media outlets and websites that published the distorted voice recordings in an attempt to defame the scholar.

More Divisions, More Democracy

Foreign journalists writing about Turkey like to focus on the most fundamental divide in Turkish society: the rift between religious conservatives and secularists. But these days an internal clash is raging among the conservatives themselves. And it could be a boon for Turkish democracy.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Fethullah Gulen’s books draw booklovers at Riyadh book fair

[VIDEO] Turkish philosophy teacher says wife had to give birth at home due to Erdogan’s witch-hunt

Austria arrests two after arson attack on Turkish cultural center

Think Twice on Turkey: Erdogan’s Purges Are a Warning to Washington

Pacifica Institute and Redmond United Methodist come together for Interfaith dinner

Prosecutor says he was blocked from investigating new graft probe

The Hizmet movement, social democracy, the religious left

Copyright 2023 Hizmet News