Vague terrorism charge used to target supporters of the Gülen movement: UN special rapporteurs


Date posted: January 24, 2021

The vague and imprecise charge of “membership in an armed terrorist organization” appears to be repeatedly misused to target critics of the Turkish government’s policies and to criminalize the legitimate activities of supporters of the Gülen movement, said the vice chair of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and three special rapporteurs in a letter to the Turkish government.

The letter, dated November 10, was published by the UN together with the response from the Turkish government 60 days after it was sent. The UN letter requested that the Turkish government respond to questions about the cases of 43 Turkish citizens who applied to the UN with individual allegations of arbitrary arrest, detention and/or prosecution in the context of, or in the aftermath of, an abortive putsch in July 2016.

Turkey experienced a controversial military coup attempt on the night of July 15, 2016 that killed 251 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan immediately accused the Gülen movement, a faith based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding the coup attempt and started a huge crackdown the next morning, which eventually led to the summary dismissal of over 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 20,610 members of the armed forces, for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

The UN rapporteurs underlined that the Gülen movement “appears to have developed over decades and enjoyed, until fairly recently, considerable freedom to establish a pervasive and respectable presence in all sectors of Turkish society, including religious institutions, education, civil society and trade unions, media, finance and business.”

Erdoğan had been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle. Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, he had designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members.

The letter also stated that many organizations affiliated with the movement that were closed after July 15 were open and legally operating until that date. Yet, the Turkish government has been accepting such daily activities as having an account at or depositing money in a Gülen movement-affiliated bank, being a member of a trade union linked to the movement, working at any institution with ties to the movement or subscribing to certain newspapers and journals as benchmarks for identifying and arresting tens of thousands on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

The 43 applicants include jailed journalist Ali Ünal; former air force cadet Furkan Çetinkaya, who was sentenced to life imprisonment on coup charges; Nurullah Albayrak, a lawyer for Fethullah Gülen; teachers, judges and police officers.

In its response the Turkish government provided an info note containing its well-known views on the Gülen movement and the July 15 coup attempt. The letter, which was submitted by Turkey’s permanent mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva, requested that the UN rapporteurs “not … allow FETÖ [a derogatory acronym used by the government to label the Gülen movement] and its members to abuse these mechanisms and to dismiss their allegations.”

The UN rapporteurs also reiterated their concerns at the “repressive environment which [the Turkish] Government has established for the exercise of fundamental rights in Turkey.”

Source: Stockholm Center for Freedom , January 12, 2021


Related News

Erdoğan rewards the killers of Gülenists

The rule of law and the independence of Turkey’s judiciary, in lower courts in particular, have been seriously compromised since the failed coup in July 2016.

Post-coup purge victim says he may never be a father due to torture in prison

One of the 48 victims said his testicles had been crushed and that a hard object was inserted into his anus while in prison. “I was kept naked in the cold. I was beaten. Pressure was applied to my genital area. The pain didn’t stop for months. I am a bachelor, and I may never be a father,” he said.

Exiled journalist warns of a genocide in the making in newly released book

“The increasingly widespread witch-hunt, systematic and widespread hate speech, ongoing persecution and massacre of Gulen movement members have made conditions in Turkey ripe for a deliberate, planned and systematic genocide,” Bülent Keneş, a veteran Turkish journalist in exile, wrote in his newly released book.

Turkish authorities unlawfully arrest pregnant woman on alleged Gülen links

Emel Top Bayraktar, 29, a research assistant at Bingöl University in eastern Turkey, has been arrested for alleged links to the Gülen movement, despite being in the early stages of pregnancy, Bold Medya reported.

Pro-Erdogan journalist says killing Gülen followers, even their babies, a religious obligation

Hüseyin Adalan, a journalist working for a number of pro-government media outlets, has said it is a religious obligation to kill all followers of the Gülen movement and even their babies.

After 50 days, Turkish university director out of Malaysian jail with UN refugee card

A visiting Turkish university director who had yet to be convicted of any crime was finally released from the Sungai Buloh Prison after being conferred refugee status, which has been conferred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNHCR identification supersedes the cancellation of his visa.

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

In A Letter, A Jailed Woman Reveals Abuse And Ill-Treatment In Turkish Prison

Fountain Magazine wins APEX Award for publication excellence

Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) at center of political storm

Senegalese PM Addresses Gulen Movement Conference in Dakar

Lynching campaign: Democratic stance of Zaman and Today’s Zaman

Yalçınbayır: Turkey has tendency towards institutionalization of bribery, corruption

Minister Yildirim’s high praise for Fethullah Gulen

Copyright 2023 Hizmet News