Witch hunt continues as police raid Gülen-inspired schools across Turkey

Parents of students in Samanyolu schools in Ankara protested raids of schools inspired by the Gülen movement, carried out by police and inspectors.(Photo: Today's Zaman, Ali Ünal)
Parents of students in Samanyolu schools in Ankara protested raids of schools inspired by the Gülen movement, carried out by police and inspectors.(Photo: Today's Zaman, Ali Ünal)


Date posted: August 21, 2015

In yet another government-orchestrated operation targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, popularly known as the Hizmet movement, police officers and inspectors from several government bodies carried out raids on private high schools and exam preparation schools across Turkey on Thursday.

A prep school in Yalova province was raided by 50 officers from the Yalova Police Department, accompanied by inspectors from several government bodies including the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and the Social Security Institution (SGK). Nobody was allowed to enter or leave the school while the investigation was being conducted.

Another prep school raid was carried out in Tekirdağ province’s Çorlu district at around 9 a.m. on Thursday with inspections of local branches of the Fem and Anafen prep school chain, while police officers again blocked off the schools while their investigations were in progress.

In addition, police officers accompanied by inspectors from eight government bodies including the Health Ministry, the Education Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the SGK raided 10 private schools from the Samanyolu Education Institutions group in Ankara. One of the search warrants presented to lawyers representing the Samanyolu Schools stated that Ankara Deputy Governor Nihat Albant had given permission for inspections into all private schools is Ankara until the end of 2015-2016 academic year, according to the Cihan news agency.

In 2014, Ankara’s private Samanyolu Schools won a total of 24 medals — four gold, nine silver and 11 bronze — in the 22nd National Science Olympiad and the 19th National Mathematics Olympiad for primary and secondary schools.

A large number of Twitter users also reported a police raid on Hulusi Bey College in Bingöl province on Thursday, which took when the Diyarbakır-Bingöl Highway had been blocked by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

A number of people have criticized the recent government-backed police raids on private schools and educational institutions that are sympathetic to the Gülen movement. Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Pak Education and Science Employees Union (Pak Eğitim-İş) Chairman Abdullah Kayışkıran emphasized that the school raids are a part of the government’s plan to distract the public’s attention from the increasing number of deaths in terrorist attacks in Turkey. “Police officers should also carry out raids on the terrorists who make repeated attempts on our soldiers’ lives. … Government officials should ask, learn about and take as a model these schools that have been so successful, but instead they carry out raids with police officers. These raids are attempts at covering up previous injustices. They have nothing to do with the quality of the education in these schools,” Kayışkıran said.

FOX TV anchorman Fatih Portakal also criticized the police raids on education centers, writing on his Twitter account on Tuesday: “After security and the judiciary, schools are the AK Party’s latest target in its fight with cemaat [the Hizmet movement].”

Koray Çalışkan, a political science professor at Boğaziçi University, tweeted about the police raids on Thursday. “The police should not raid educational institutions. Whether they belong to cemaat or not, the police must leave the schools immediately,” he said.

Speaking at a press conference at the Grand Unity Party (BBP) headquarters in Ankara on Wednesday, Felicity Party (SP) leader Mustafa Kamalak said that the Turkish judiciary will not turn a blind eye to the government’s “arbitrary behavior.”

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Koray Aydın spoke to Cihan on Wednesday and emphasized that the raids are regarded by everyone in Turkey as a part of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s witch hunt against members of the Hizmet movement, a civil society group inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. “This [targeting of the Hizmet movement] started after the exposure of the biggest robbery in the history of the world. We all know what happened when senior members of the government and the children of [then-Prime Minister Erdoğan] were accused [of corruption]. … Those who carry out these raids will be held to account for them,” Aydın said.

The MHP deputy added: “This is a country of 77 million people and not everyone supports you [Erdoğan]. We are witnessing where your ambition and ego has brought you.”

MHP Osmaniye deputy Ruhi Ersoy also spoke to Cihan to criticize the government. “The AK Party tries to create an illusion to cover the truth. Even if there’s really a ‘parallel state’ in the country, you can’t destroy it by disturbing and traumatizing daycare center teachers and students’ parents or raiding them with police officers holding guns,” Ersoy said.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Eskişehir deputy Gaye Usluer said that the raids are making no contribution to Turkey’s education. “Carrying out raids on daycare centers and scaring little children and their families are the results of the AK Party’s self-interested and arbitrary changes to the education system,” Usluer said.

Also speaking to Cihan, CHP İstanbul deputy Akif Hamzaçebi said on Thursday the police raids on schools had had a “calamitous” effect. “The government is acting out of revenge. What gives you the right to do this? These schools have been active [for years] and you didn’t detect any unlawful actions by them. People are being killed every day in the country and our soldiers are being killed. While people are in pain, these gentlemen [government officials] are obsessed with how to put pressure on and ban certain private and prep schools. This attitude is antidemocratic,” Hamzaçebi stated.

A number of private and prep schools that are sympathetic to the Gülen movement have been targeted by the AK Party government after a major graft investigation that implicated President Erdoğan and other top AK Party figures was made public on Dec. 17, 2013.

Then-Prime Minister Erdoğan accused the Gülen movement of plotting to overthrow his government. In May 2014, Erdoğan publicly advised AK Party supporters not to send their children to schools affiliated with the movement, vowing, “We will not even give water [to the movement’s members].” He has also said he would carry out a “witch hunt” against anyone with any links to the movement. Erdoğan has also ordered officials in AK Party-run municipalities to seize land and buildings belonging to the Gülen movement by any means necessary. The movement strongly rejects the allegations and no indictment has been brought against it.

Source: Today's Zaman , August 20, 2015


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