Dissidents of the Turkish government are living in fear in Canada


Date posted: October 26, 2020

Mehmet Bastug and Davut Akca

Turkey’s long arm and espionage activities against dissidents living in exile in Canada has become a growing concern. As revealed in a startling recent news report, 15 Turkish-Canadians have been targeted by the Turkish government within the scope of a “terrorism” investigation.

Needless to say, the term “terrorist” has become a commonly applied label in Turkey describing almost all opponents of the Turkish government, in and out of the country. Turkey’s operations in Canada have an impact that goes beyond its immediate targets. Such planned and organized espionage activities could pose a danger to public safety.

In the last several years, the Turkish state engaged in a three-phase campaign abroad to silence its own citizens who are critical of the government:

  1. Propaganda activities through Turkish state entities and pro-government civil society organizations to discredit opposition groups;
  2. Intelligence-gathering and espionage activities;
  3. Intimidation, threats and abduction.

Defaming dissidents

Turkish authorities have been organizing defamatory propaganda activities against the dissidents.

The Telegraph in the U.K., for example, recently reported that mosques and community centres with links to Turkey in Britain are used to disperse anti-Kurdish propaganda. Similarly, as posted on the Facebook page of the Turkish Canadian Religious Foundation, the religious affairs office of the Turkish Consulate General in Toronto organized a mosque visit and delivered booklets against opposition groups, apparently to demonize them in the eyes of other Islamic groups in greater Toronto area.

In the last several years, Turkey has been aggressively gathering intelligence about its citizens living in exile. It’s also been using certain organizations and communities as its eyes and ears to spy on dissidents.

An example of this is DITIB, a state-funded Turkish-Islamic union that runs more than 900 mosques in Germany. Imams of DITIB were accused by German authorities of gathering intelligence about regime critics on behalf of the Turkish government.

Such activities are being watched by authorities with concern and are believed to pose “a danger to the internal peace.”

Threats, disappearances, torture

Many opponents have been the victims of enforced disappearance. As reported by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, dissidents on Turkey have been forcibly disappeared and tortured by government agents. There are also cases where they were abducted abroad, particularly in countries ruled by corrupt and authoritarian regimes.

Haaretz reported that the current Turkish government snatched over 100 dissidents from other countries and brought them back to Turkey. The recent revelations from an imprisoned Turkish mob leader in Argentina on how some Turkish government officials had recruited him to kill American pastor Andrew Brunson demonstrated that mafia-type government operations aren’t rare.

Intimidation is another tactic used to spy on opponents. Turkish agents threatened regime critics to convince them to provide information about targeted groups and organizations abroad. Those whose immediate family members are still in Turkey are particularly targeted.

According to a recording obtained by Radio Sweden, the chairman of a lobby organization with ties to the Turkish state told a member of the Gulen movement — a group that has become a target of the government — that his wife, who was in Turkey at the time, would be arrested if he does not co-operate with Turkish authorities.

Fear of abduction

In a recent research project with two colleagues, we examined how the activities of Turkish authorities in Canada influenced the daily lives and social interactions of dissidents.

The research revealed their fear of the Turkish state. Our findings indicate they’ve made significant changes in their lives to protect themselves. These changes include moving to another neighbourhood or city, changing daily routines and avoiding being in certain places and attending group activities.

They are also subjected to hate speech by their fellow nationals who have emotional or material ties with Turkish government. As a result of their experiences, they prefer not to connect with other Turkish people because they fear they’ll be spied on, abducted or forcibly returned Turkey.

For some dissidents, the fear of being oppressed by the Turkish government persists even in Canada. However, many of them view Canada as a safe country where they can raise their voices through democratic channels. They also hope that Turkey will ultimately abandon its aggressive policies against opposing voices and respect human rights in the future.

Mehmet Bastug, Lecturer, Criminology, Lakehead University

Davut Akca, Researcher, Forensic Behavioural Science and Justice Studies, University of Saskatchewan

Source: The Conversation


Related News

Rumi Forum to bestow Peace and Dialogue Awards

The Rumi Forum bestowed its traditional Peace and Dialogue Awards on Tuesday. Congressman Connolly praised the activities of the Rumi Forum, saying, “If there is something that I think is important and that is represented by this forum tonight and the work of the Rumi Forum, it is the ability it has to bind us all in tolerance and understanding.”

Fethullah Gulen’s Statement on Mass Shooting at Pittsburgh Synagogue

I am shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific attack against the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. It is heartbreaking to see such a tragedy happen at a place of worship. I strongly condemn this hate-driven attack on the worshippers.

Turkish journalist tells Staten Island group about censorship in his country

Turkish journalist Aydogan Vatandas warned Friday night at the Turkish Cultural Center of Staten Island in Dongan Hills that freedom of the press in his country is under siege.

Hundreds celebrate Clifton’s diversity at festival

Yesilova prepared rich Turkish coffee for those who stopped by a table for the Turkish Cultural Center at the festival, which took place at Clifton High School. The event, which featured food and performances from around the world, was part of more than a year-long commemoration of Clifton’s 100th anniversary.

Chatham United Methodist Church Hosted Abraham Interfaith Lunch

The Chatham United Methodist Church hosted its 6th Annual Abraham Interfaith Lunch on Tuesday, April 30th. The theme of the event was to embrace faiths of all kinds while joining together to help refugees in need.

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right

Dr. Brian L. Desbiens* As kids, our parents told us: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” So it is with confusion and sadness that I read about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and the death of Ambassador Stevens. The violence was allegedly carried out in reaction to the airing of an American […]

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

GYV expresses concern over claims of government profiling of its citizens

Turkish Schools and Fethullah Gulen

National Development Requires Peaceful Co-existence

Turkish schools in Africa important for strong relations

‘Hizmet Movement is teaching “habits of the heart”, without any request for payback’

Islam is compatible with Democracy, despite Turkey’s recent example

AK Party takes action to expel deputy who opposed closure of prep schools

Copyright 2024 Hizmet News