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

UN to Turkey: Free and Compensate Gulen-linked Detainees

Turkey must release two men detained over suspected links to a cleric blamed for a 2016 coup attempt and pay them compensation for arbitrary detention, a UN body said on Wednesday.

CHP leader says Erdoğan’s UN speech only served to promote Gülen movement

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has criticized a speech delivered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at a UN meeting on Tuesday in which he called on world leaders to take measures against the faith-based Gülen movement, saying that Erdoğan’s speech only served to promote the Gülen movement.

UN demands access to 3 Turks forcibly returned from Malaysia

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has urged Turkey to confirm the whereabouts of three Turkish nationals who were detained in Malaysia at Ankara’s request due to their ties to the faith-based Gülen movement, a statement by the Brussels-based Intercultural Dialogue Platform said.

1-year-old baby with cancer held in Mardin prison with mother: former HDP deputy

Avşin Usanmaz, a one-year-old baby with brain cancer, has been held in a prison in Mardin province with his imprisoned mother.

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.

Erdogan men advised to have polygamous marriages with wives of jailed Gülen followers

Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK) representative in the Austrian province of Vorarlberg Hasan Güray Özüyer has said in his twitter message, “Let [the AKP male] supporters enter into [polygamous] marriages with four wives of jailed followers of Fethullah Gülen.”

Latest News

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

Grondahl: Turkish community strong in wake of threats from back home

Turkish-Kyrgyz educator’s abduction shows Ankara’s ruthless disregard for law: HRW

Kenya: Investigate Deportation of Turkish National

In Case You Missed It

Hakan Şükür’s resignation: Rebellion of a conscience

Police raid successful Gülen-inspired schools, kindergarten in eastern Turkey

Media and education challenge in Afghanistan

Why did Fethullah Gülen visit John Paul II?

40-day-old baby, mother under police custody for 4 days: opposition deputy

Police raid house of 96-year-old philanthropist in İzmir

The witch-hunt reaches Turkey’s media

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News