AKP report: Gülen-linked purge victims must face the ‘monsters’ they’ve become

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A 2021 report revisiting the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s years-long crackdown on the faith-based Gülen movement says that not all purge victims have links to the group while arguing that those who do should be made to watch “specially prepared videos” so they can face the “monsters” they have become, the Independent Turkish service reported on Monday.

The AKP report, titled “Rethinking the Fight with FETÖ,” a derogatory term used by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization, was updated in August 2021 and presented to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by an unidentified official he appointed to a crucial state post for fighting the movement after an attempted coup on July 15, 2016, Independent Turkish said.

Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of Dec. 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, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

The report, which includes the official’s observations, criticism and suggestions regarding the crackdown targeting the Gülen group, said not all civil servants who were purged from state institutions over Gülen links have connections to a terrorist organization.

Reminding that 450 of the 4,500 people who had been dismissed from one state institution were reinstated after “the most meticulous re-evaluation and discussion” of their firing, the official said in the report, “It’s compatible with neither religion nor the rule of law to accept as FETÖ members or affiliates the 125,000 people who were purged from state posts but whose judicial process is ongoing.”

The report added that among the real and alleged members of the movement, people who manage to keep their distance from it, including those who were removed from government posts but were acquitted of the charges against them and those who benefitted from the effective repentance law and became informants, should be given a second chance by the government as well as the public.

“On the one hand, [we see] people who were dismissed from public service for working for [the now-closed and Gülen-linked] Bank Asya … on the other hand, [we see] an individual who served as the bank’s general manager and one who was appointed chairman of the Capital Markets Board of Turkey. …  The principle of individual criminal responsibility … should be applied to everyone equally and fairly,” the report said.

It further said that people with real or alleged links to the Gülen movement should not be punished collectively and that their parents, in-laws and siblings shouldn’t be punished by the government.

However, the official also suggested in the report that people imprisoned over Gülen links should be made to watch “specially prepared videos” in prisons and other detention facilities so they can see how each of them was “turned into a Frankenstein with monstrous feelings.”

Referring to the “FETOMETER” (FETÖMETRE in Turkish), a software developed by the Naval Forces Command that identifies alleged Gülen followers based on 78 main and 253 secondary criteria and is used to root out followers in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the official urged that a similar software be developed for the country’s academics.

“Although they are known to be affiliated with FETÖ, some academics working in our universities have kept their jobs due to lack of [sufficient] evidence [proving their links to the group],” the official said.

Following the attempted coup, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

Former public servants were not only fired from their jobs; they were also banned from working again in the public sector and getting a passport. The government also made it difficult for them to work formally in the private sector. Notes were put on the social security database about dismissed public servants to deter potential employers.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said in August that he would reinstate all former officials removed from their jobs by emergency decree-laws known as KHKs if they win the next general election in June 2023, “unless they were involved in terrorism.”

“An official apology should be made to the purge victims, and pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages should be paid for the ordeal they were subjected to,” lawmaker Muazzez Orhan Işık from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said in late September.

A joint report by the Justice for Victims Platform and HDP MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu revealed in December that the two-year-long state of emergency declared after the failed putsch caused immense suffering among public servants who were dismissed from their jobs by the government as well as their families.

The dismissed civil servants lost 70 percent of their average monthly income, a circumstance that reduced them to dire financial straits, according to a survey conducted for the report.

The survey indicates that 99.1 percent of the victims are college or university graduates or holders of master’s or doctoral degrees, which means an immense loss of human resources for Turkey’s public administration.

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