Man abducted by Turkish intel exposes torture during 9-month enforced disappearance

Gökhan Türkmen, who was allegedly abducted by Turkish intelligence officers and kept in a non-official detention center for 271 days, has said he was tortured, subjected to severe threats and sexually harassed and abused during his enforced disappearance, according to the Yeni 1 Mecra news website.

In February 2019 seven suspects in investigations related to the faith-based Gülen movement went missing.

Gokhan Turkmen

Turkey accuses the movement of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt, although it strongly denies any involvement. Since the failed coup, Ankara has carried out a post-coup crackdown targeting followers of the movement.

Six of them — Salim Zeybek, Erkan Irmak, Yasin Ugan, Özgür Kaya, Mustafa Yılmaz, and Türkmen — reappeared in police custody in Ankara after a nearly nine-month absence.

Yusuf Bilge Tunç, a former public servant who was dismissed from his job by a government decree, is still missing.

Türkmen, currently held in pretrial detention at Ankara’s Sincan Prison, told trial judges he was abducted in his hometown of Antalya by people wearing police vests on Feb. 3, 2019.

He was taken to a location four or five hours away by van where months-long torture and ill-treatment started, he added.

Türkmen said while he was in police custody in November he was prevented from retaining his own legal counsel. He announced during a hearing that he had dismissed lawyer Ayşegül Güney assigned by a bar association.

The families of the once-missing men had conducted a social media campaign to find their loved ones during their nine-month absence, but the other five people, excluding Türkmen, who later reappeared in police custody, told their families to halt the campaign.

They were obviously afraid and apparently treated very badly considering their appearance, the families and lawyers from the Ankara Bar Association later told reporters.

The families had consistently complained about the lack of assistance from officials to find their loved ones, as wives unearthed details on their indicating that their husbands had been abducted.

Salim Zeybek’s wife, Fatma Betül Zeybek, was with him when three men in a vehicle forced them to stop their car and abducted her husband.

According to Turkish security officials the missing men had stayed in a safe house out in the in country for months and never felt the urge to make contact with their families.

Lawyer Mehmet Murat Atak, a human rights lawyer from the Ankara Bar Association, told Yeni 1 Mecra that the men must be examined by independent doctors to determine the extent of the torture.

They must not be tried in their psychologically damaged state, Atak added.

Nearly 30 people have reportedly been abducted by Turkish intelligence officers since 2016. Two of them were able to flee the country and told foreign media about the torture that they had endured during their enforced disappearance.
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Mass firings in Turkey: ‘We have been given a social death sentence’

Tunca Ögreten

Some 134,000 people were fired after Turkey’s failed coup in 2016. Most are still jobless, forced to fight for healthcare and retirement benefits, and many suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Fifty-six-year-old Tahsin Uysal used to worked as a teacher in the southern Turkish city of Adana. He’s one of tens of thousands of civil servants who lost their jobs after the failed June 15, 2016, coup. The workers were accused en masse of being members of a terrorist organization and were fired by decree.

Uysal is accused of being a member of a trade union with ties to the Gulen movement. The leader of that movement, preacher Fethullah Gulen, has been living in exile in the US for years. The Turkish government claims that Gulen and his followers were behind the attempted coup.

For decades, those in the Gulen movement held high-level government posts. They ran schools, unions and banks. Today the government treats those with accounts at such banks or children attending such schools as terror suspects.

As a result, entire families have suffered reprisals. The government has cut welfare and medical payments for their elderly and infirm relatives. In Turkey, these people even have their own acronym, they are called KHKs, in reference to the official government term for decree, “Kanun Hukmunde Kararname.” After being fired, Uysal was thrown in jail for eight months.

Upon his release, the ex-teacher decided to draw money from his retirement account. Months passed before he could find a public authority willing to process his request. When Uysal finally received a retirement statement, he learned that his payment had been refused. He challenged the decision in court and won. But the damages awarded to him were barely enough to cover his legal costs. Moreover, authorities froze his bank and credit card accounts.

To make matters worse, state prosecutors mounted a legal challenge to his release and Uysal was sentenced to another six-and-a-half years in jail. The sentence is currently pending and must now be reviewed by Turkey’s supreme court.

His family has also been subjected to the long arm of the Turkish state. His daughter, an academic, was jailed because of her father’s union membership. Although she was found innocent of wrongdoing by the courts, she’s been forbidden from returning to work.

These developments have scarred Uysal’s family. His wife was recently diagnosed with cancer. Even so, Uysal is optimistic: “We won’t stop fighting. Someday, all of these injustices will come to light. We aren’t armed terrorists, and we aren’t enemies of the state. My only sin is that I joined a union.” 

A long list of bans and harassment

In all, some 134,000 people have been fired from different parts of the civil service since the failed putsch. Those affected have taken to internet forums to chat with one another about their experiences. The list of injustices that have been cataloged is long, and range from stories of desperately seeking work or being arbitrarily refused care by doctors to having passports confiscated.

Students have lost stipends, while others say no one will rent apartments to them. Those who have been caught up in the purge say they are the victims of “social lynchings.” 

According to official statistics, 126,000 people have filed applications with Turkey’s State of Emergency Commission to resume work. So far, the commission says it has processed 78% of those applications – and has turned down 88,700 of them. To date, only 9,600 people have been allowed to return to their former jobs, and 28,000 KHKs are still waiting to hear their fate.

Permanent state of emergency

Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a doctor and a parliamentarian from the pro-Kurdish HDP party, is also a KHK. He is also the only Turkish parliamentarian that has spoken out over the issue. He says Turkey is in a permanent state of emergency, more than three years after the coup.

“Millions of people are still feeling the repercussions,” he says. “Many search in vain for private sector jobs, many are refused the right to travel abroad. They are not allowed to make use of federal employment agencies, and city authorities prohibit them from starting their own businesses. Often, they are not even allowed to withdraw money sent to them from abroad.”

Gergerlioglu is indignant, saying, “These are Nazi methods, designed to break people.”

From teacher to janitor

B.O., who does not want to see his name in print, is 33 years old and a history teacher by profession. He, too, has experienced a turbulent life since the coup attempt was put down. He, too, was fired and then thrown in jail. He was accused of using the Turkish messaging app ByLock to send encrypted messages. After it became known that his messages — like those of many others — had been rerouted to ByLock without his knowledge, he was acquitted. The Turkish government claims the app is used exclusively by members of the Gulen movement.

After his acquittal, B.O. was unemployed for months. Hoping to continue providing for his wife and children, he moved to another city to look for work. There he found a job as a janitor. But he was fired three days later after it was discovered that he was a KHK. Eventually, he found another janitor position, where he was able to work for a year. But meanwhile, the financial assistance he was receiving to care for his sick mother-in-law was cut. Now, he himself has been diagnosed with cancer and is desperately trying to beat it.

‘More psychologically damaging than an earthquake’

Haluk Savas is a professor of psychology and a KHK. His professional assessment of the situation is devastating: “These people suffer great psychological stress because they feel as if they have become social outcasts. Trauma researchers now know that beyond exhaustion and physical illness, the pain that people inflict upon one another has more grave psychological consequences than the trauma of events like earthquakes.”

Savas says that hundreds of thousands of people directly affected by the firings as well as millions of their relatives are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), something previously only diagnosed in those who have suffered abuse, fought in wars, or survived serious accidents. He says they are condemned to grapple with events from their past, suffering insomnia and plagued by nightmares.
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Gulen: Erdogan will end up like Hitler and Stalin

Interview by Alain Jourdan

The preacher Fethullah Gülen was once a close ally of the Turkish President. Today, Erdogan accuses him of being behind the coup attempt in July 2016, and Gülen is in exile. In his interview, he explains the weaknesses of the Turkish President.

Fethullah Gülen, number 1 enemy of the Turkish State, has lived for many years in the US. The meeting with him took place in his house in Pennsylvania under police protection.  

The health of the 78-year-old, who the Turkish government sees as a threat, is fragile. Ankara demanded, in vain, his extradition from the United States. Ankara accuses the preacher, claiming that he and the Hizmet Movement are behind the failed coup d’etat of July 2016, a claim which  Gulen consistently denied. 

He witnesses powerlessly how his supporters are pursued even in the corridors of the UN. The Turkish government has done everything to withdraw their accreditation to the NGOs run by Gulen supporters. They will not have a say when the session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), dedicated to the situation in Turkey, is held in front of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

Welt: Why does Erdogan hate you so much? You have been his ally in the past, haven’t you?

Fethullah Gülen: The Hizmet Movement never had a close relation with him. Erdogan seemed to share our ideas on democracy. That´s it. He was fighting for the same things. But once in power, he showed a completely different face. We couldn’t support that. Our schools defend a vision of education that is incompatible with a drift toward authoritarianism. We defend, for example, the rights of Kurdish citizens, to use their language along with the Turkish language. He’s the one who considers me his enemy. I never considered him as such. 

I just asked him to keep his promises. His main enemy is himself. He sees himself as the most intelligent human in the world, but in reality, he is driven by feelings of jealousy, hatred and revenge. His government sank into paranoia. My older sister has to live in hiding and everyone who has the same surname as me is arrested.

Welt: So your disagreement roots in the Kurdish Question, if we understand you right?

Fethullah Gülen: Erdogan is not on the same wavelength with me. Former President Turgut Ozal, when he was Prime Minister, partially resolved the problem by including Kurdish ministers in his cabinet as well as Social Democrats and representatives of other political currents. I believe that more freedom must be ensured and the Kurdish language should be allowed in the schools. This requires a more decentralized state. If one day there is a new constitutional reform, I recommended them to study the model of the American constitution, which grants great freedom to the citizens.

What is your opposing approach regarding freedom? Erdogan believes that women belong in the kitchen. Is that also a reason for your disagreement?

Gülen: (Smiles.) I personally am not in favor of the patriarchal model because it is a step backwards from the history of the beginnings of Islam. Women must be able to find their place in society everywhere. If a woman wants to be a judge or pilot, nothing should stop her.

Erdogan also strives to play a role on the international and regional stage. What do you think of the military operation launched by Erdogan in Syria in 2019?

It was a diversion operation. He wanted to divert people’s attention so that they did not focus on internal problems in Turkey. It was also a new opportunity for him to pose as a strong man in the Muslim world. But we can see the result in Syria. He became a murderer by supporting an unrealistic uprising. He has a big responsibility in everything that happened. Thousands of dead, millions of refugees, all these horrid things. One of his former ministers asked me what the solution was to get out of the Syrian crisis. I replied that a pact had to be made in order to move towards democracy step by step.

I said that it is important to support a gradual democratization process in Syria and, if necessary, help Assad stay president for a term or two, while also ensuring that every ethnic group, whether majority or minority, is in parliament and is represented. But they just ignored my advice.

Is it also Erdogan’s mistake to influence the situation in Libya??

There has always been tension between different regions in Libya. Again, Erdogan plays a negative role by supporting certain groups. He aspires to be the new leader of the Muslim world, but how can he claim such a place while supporting and encouraging actions that lead to conflicts between Sunnis? He is trapped in his contradictions. All narcissistic dictators and tyrants like Hitler and Stalin have a bad ending. Their reign always ends in fury. He will suffer the same fate.

Meanwhile, Erdogan continues to exert pressure on the West by threatening to exit NATO. Do you think he would really do that??

Erdogan seems to be maneuvering to get closer to Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization for a collaboration, but that’s just a bluff. In fact, he’s just trying to blackmail. He cannot do without the West. He needs them to protect himself. He uses this rhetoric to convince his supporters. Personally, I believe that Turkey must maintain its relations with NATO and Europe.

In any case, the question of Turkey’s accession to the EU seems to be definitely off the table. Do you regret that?

Currently, with this totalitarian government I do not see how it would be possible to become a member of the European Union. There is nothing to expect from people who keep themselves in power through violence, hatred and revenge. In the eyes of France and Germany, Turkey has lost all credibility for the time being. Our movement will always defend a rapprochement with the European Union because we can learn and benefit from it.

Erdogan seems more inclined to approach the Muslim Brotherhood. What do you make of it?

He is Machiavellian. If he got close to the Muslim brothers, it was by calculation. If they lose influence, he will quickly let them down.

How do you see the future role of your movement?

Hizmet will continue to be a humanitarian foundation because it is our primary vocation. Unfortunately, this is made difficult by the unfavorable context. We are a very small movement, but we will continue to defend our model of social harmony and mutual respect, tolerance and diversity. My belief is that humanist values ​​can unite us beyond our religious affiliations.

Recently, I was treated in a hospital center. I met Christian and Jewish doctors there who treated Muslim patients with the greatest respect. I was touched by their humanity. God evaluates people on their action not on their appearance.

Originally published by the Welt on January 26, 2020. View original interview here.
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Woman with soft tissue tumor held in Ankara prison for 8 months: report

Seynur Özdemir, a Turkish woman from Ankara, suffers from soft tissue sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that begins in the tissues that connect, support and surround other body structures. She however has been held in Ankara’s Sİncan prison since June 2019 on terror and coup charges.

According to a Twitter account managed by her husband, Özdemir is at imminent risk of losing her leg due to advanced soft tissue sarcoma:

“She has 3-litres of tumor in her leg. She underwent a biopsyand at the Hacettepe hospital. Can you be our voice, @gergerliogluof,” the husband tweeted. 

Turkish government survived the attempt that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others, however; AK Party officials along with Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen group and launched a widespread war on its alleged and real followers.

The Gülen group denies any involvement in the attempt.

Many cancer patients died in Turkish prisons in the past three years. Tacettin Toprak, 36, is the latest of them.
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Another new mother detained in Turkey over Gülen links

Büşra Öztürk, the mother of a 22-day-old baby, was detained in Ankara on Wednesday for alleged links to the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016, the Aktif Haber news website reported.

The movement denies any involvement in the abortive putsch.

The detention was announced on Twitter by member of parliament and human rights advocate Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu.

The woman is going to appear before a court tomorrow, according to the report.

Turkish law requires postponement of the arrest of pregnant women until they give birth and the infant reaches the age of six months.
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Fethullah Gülen: Erdogan is a Narcissist Dictator, His Main Enemy is Himself

Fethullah Gülen, the religious preacher and founder of the Hizmet movement said, “It is Erdogan who considers me his enemy. I have never considered him as such. I just asked him to keep his promises. His main enemy is himself. He believes himself to be the most intelligent man in the world, but in reality he is only moved by feelings of jealousy, hatred and revenge, so much so that his government fell into a state of paranoia.” 

[Libya, 28 January 2020] – In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported by Nova news agency, Fethullah Gülen indicated that Erdogan does not only want to rule the Turks, but he aspires to have the leading role in the international and regional arena.

“My older sister must live in hiding, and all the people who have the same surname as mine are arrested. What makes the Turkish President a man with blood-stained hands?” the founder of the Hizmet movement, and Turkish leader who lives in exile in the United States, wondered.

“I am not on the same wavelength with Erdogan. I believe that more freedom must be granted and the Kurdish language can be used in schools. All this requires a more decentralized state. If one day there is a new constitutional reform it will have to be inspired by the American Constitution; it grants great freedoms to the citizens,” said the man who is considered the head of the opposition to Erdogan abroad.

Regarding the situation in Libya, Fethullah Gülen said, “there has always been tension between the North and the South. Erdogan plays a negative role by supporting some groups. His ambition is to be the new leader of the Islamic world, so how can he claim this role if he supports measures that lead to clashes between Sunnis. All narcissistic dictators like Hitler or Stalin ended up in a catastrophic way. Their reign always ends in chaos and his fate will be the same.”

Fethullah Gülen also pointed out that Erdogan continues to exert pressure on the West by threatening to leave the NATO.
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Hizmet Movement: An Exemplary Paradigm of Transnational Civic Engagements

A. Mufazzal
The origins of a seemingly nameless civic-social movement which later became popularly known as the “Gülen Movement” or “Hizmet Movement” date back to the early 1970s in Turkey.  The Movement’s goal is to produce “social good” throughout the world, which are manifested around peaceful activities like promoting dialogue among communities, human rights, love, tolerance, ethics, education, women’s issues, and eradication of poverty. It derives inspiration from the ideas and thoughts of Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric who is known as “Hojaefendi.” The Movement has successfully nurtured a generation to establish a global network of socio-cultural institutions including schools, coaching centers, universities, media outlets, publishing houses, hospitals, dialogue centers, and relief organizations.
At its core, the Movement is a faith based social movement that takes inspiration from Islamic ideals to reinforce the civic, moral, and ethical goals of Islam. The goal is to transform individuals and society in such a way to produce a “golden generation,” which in turn provides leadership to all walks of human life.
The Movement has espoused a purely civic social aspect of Islam – as opposed to discourses of “Islam and modernity” – to universalize the message of the Movement which has ultimately paved the way for it to become transnational.
“The movement encapsulates a faith-inspired peace-invoking service. It promotes universal values, superiority of the law and human rights along with freedom of belief, freedom of religion and freedom of expression.” [1]
As the movement’s chief source of inspiration, Fethullah Gülen dwells upon the universal values of humanity as an integral part of Islam’s fundamental doctrine and values. His approach to faith bends on Sufism and this has always made him a propounder of the human-centric discourse of Islam. The goal of this discourse is to promote a civic and ethical transformation of an individual and society at large, based upon the prophetic model of insan al-kamil (perfect human being). Gülen maintains that “Morality is the essence of religion and a most fundamental portion of the divine message. The Prophet, who is the greatest embodiment of morals, said: Islam consists in good morals; I have been sent to perfect and complete good morals” [2].
Gülen further underlines that the basic dynamics of a life of action and thought is directly tied with our spiritual life, which is based upon our religious values [3]. Gülen’s very idea of hizmet, meaning “service,” reminds the spiritual fervor of Imam Rabbani’s “abadiyat,” (meaning eternity) notion, becomes in a way “service to eternal God.” The attainment of “service to eternity” can only be achieved by serving the humanity. This universal Islamic discourse of Gülen discards the need of state agencies as a perquisite to serve Islam and its interests. Rather, he maintains that Islam can best be served by participating in socially beneficial activities such as promoting peace, imparting education, providing relief and health facilities. To emphasize this point, Gülen has said; “Islam does not need a state to survive; in the modern age, civil society can independently maintain Islam even where Muslims are not in majority” [4].
These conceptual and ideological clusters helped create and broaden the vision of transnational networks of Hizmet Movement that had entered the global arena and made it to engage in a comprehensive perspective on social-civic challenges. Its transnational character became even firmer when Gülen himself moved to the United States and was actively involved in promoting and improving the overall wellbeing of society investing his robust efforts to foster dialogue and peace. Since then, themes such as peace, human rights, ethics, pluralism, altruism, reconciliation and dialogue have occupied even more space in the center of the Movement’s agenda in order to gain a better understanding of, and appreciation for, cultures, histories, civilizations and traditions.
Despite its current national experience in its homeland Turkey differs widely in terms of the social relevance and political interactions, at the transnational level one can hardly doubt that the Movement has progressively developed an ability to address and mobilize around problems of a social and civic nature.
Unlike many other Islamic modernist movements including Salafism and al-Nahdah in Arabia, the Muhammadiyah movement in Indonesia, the Aligarh and Nadwa movements in India, the Hizmet Movement has been characterized by mass interaction and participation at local, national, and transnational levels. This interaction and participation have attracted thousands of volunteers across the globe and have generated a global network of thousands of socio-cultural institutions including schools, coaching centers, universities, hospitals, dialogue centers, relief organizations etc. Their transnational networks active on global and local civic social issues have multiplied, built alliances with national and supranational civil actors including UN’s institutions, and influenced their views and actions.
Professor Anwar Alam maintains:
“Hizmet is a transnational civil society movement calling up everyone to collaborate around a common ideal of good work for humanity. The movement aims to facilitate an environment in which all can work together in a pluralistic, peaceful, all embracing spirit and voluntary altruism, regardless of subscription to a certain faith.” [5]
Unlike other movements, Hizmet’s most effective paradigm of conceptualizing such an unusual combination of coalitions, coordination, and diversities of convergence and pluralism, of national and transnational struggles is an example of a model grassroots movement.
Transnational networking of the Movement has emerged as a crucial aspect of its global activities and as the main form of organizational linkage between local nation-based civic actors to the cross-border activism of Hizmet. The Movement aptly fits into Robert Putnam’s theory on “Social Capital” which refers to “the connections among individuals, social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them.” Hizmet’s transnational network is a result of its employment of “social trust” and “reciprocity.”
Thus, these forms of movement within Hizmet can be characterized by voluntary horizontal and, at times, vertical patterns of coordination that are reciprocal and asymmetrical. Within the Hizmet Movement, in particular, the transnational network can be understood as maintaining coordination among different civil society actors including both organizations and individuals such as experts, located in several countries, based on a shared frame of work, and investing joint efforts for common good. Being a faith based movement, the crucial factor that motivates its volunteers is, as Anwar Alam rightly observed, “the in-built Islamic cognitive structure of the ‘ikhlas-iman-hijrah-dawa’” linkage that provides the motivational resources for the expansion of the movement.” While detailing the micro structure of the Movement he concluded, “in short, the whole Hizmet Movement runs on the informal principle of consultation, trust, cooperation, and faith” [6].
In spite of the different perspectives and viewpoints in course, the Movement flourished as a self-organized and self-sustained actor on the global scene with its own policy priorities and agenda for social-civic changes. The Movement is clearly transnational in its very nature and in the reach of its activism that converges in fostering universal values. While having such a vivid picture of the transnational character of the Movement, one can rightly argue that this transnational character became the reason the Movement not only survived but thrived, in wake of the so called failed coup attempt of 2016 and subsequent witch hunts and purges that were launched by the Turkish regime.
References
1 Alam, Anwar. 2019. For the sake of Allah, The Origin, Development, and Discourse of the Gülen Movement. Blue Dome Press, USA, p. 28.
2 Gülen, M. Fethullah. 1998. Towards the Lost Paradise. Izmir: kaynak.  Al-Bukhari, “Al-adab-ul-Mufrad” no. 273, and  Ibn-Sa’ad, “al-tabaqat” vol.1, p. 192.
3 Ibid, p. 87.
4 Quoted in Mustafa Akyol, “What made the Gulen Movement Possible” in International Conference Proceedings: Muslim World in Transition: Contributions of the Gülen Movement, Leeds Metropolitan University Press, London, October 2007, p. 31.
5 Alam, op. cit. p. 27.
6 Alam, op. cit. p. 159-164.
 
Source: Fountain Magazine, Issue 133 (Jan – Feb 2020)
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Understanding shifts in Islamic interpretation in Turkey through Gulen-inspired Yamanlar High School

Erdoğan Regime shut down nearly 1400 foundations, associations, and schools belonging to the Gülen Movement. Yamanlar College, a high school, was one of the most emblematic ones. The college was the first college founded in the years when the movement was founded.

Starting to serve in the education field in 1982, the school preferred the modern education system. Cleric Mr. Gülen said to his followers that education is the fundamental problem of Turkey, and instead of building mosques or religious vocational high schools, they shall open modern schools.

Yamanlar College, the first school, established within this scope, became Turkey’s one of the most successful private schools. Afterward, the Gülen Movement founded 21 universities and nearly 1400 private schools in Turkey.

Erdogan accused the Gulen Movement in 2013 after the corruption operation targeted Erdogan’s four ministers and his son Bilal. These operations, known as the 17/25 December Corruption Operation, were closed with the dismissal of police and prosecutors.

Erdogan immediately sent the officers to the foundation schools belonged to the Gülen Movement to impose a fine, some of the schools were cut off the water, and some of the schools’ gardens were destroyed by constructing new roads.

The repression continued, and Erdogan started to confiscate the school administration. The complete confiscation of schools and the cessation of education took place after the controversial coup attempt on 15 July 2016.

Seizing all the power in his hands after the coup attempt in Turkey, Erdogan declared the State of Emergency and started the presidential system. Meantime, all the foundation schools owned by the Gülen Movement were closed down.

The Erdogan regime has transformed most of these schools into religious vocational high schools (Imam Hatip in Turkish), where teachers mostly teach Salafi beliefs. The Gülen Movement’s first school Yamanlar College was one of them.

An event held during the first days of 2020 has launched a new debate in Turkey over Yamanlar College’s transformation.

The Sıla Foundation organized a conference on Shariah in the premises of Yamanlar used in the past as a sports hall and theater. İhsan Şenocak, one of the speakers at the Sıla Foundation’s meeting, wanted a declaration war against Israel and called the government officials, “You walk towards Tel Aviv, we’ll come after you.” These words received great support from the hall.

One of the significant issues discussed in the meeting was covering the picture of the Republic of Turkey’s founder Kemal Ataturk in the hall.

People wearing turban and robes in the hall and the speeches made were on the axis of the change after the school, which had modern education in the past, was taken away from the Gülen Movement.

The education system in Turkey experienced significant changes in recent years. The Erdogan regime opened thousands of new religious vocational high schools, or the existing schools were turned into religious vocational high schools. Families complain about this, but the number of schools that provide modern education is decreasing day by day.
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Pregnant behind bars with a two-year-old kid

Elif Aydın, 31, is one of the educators arrested in Turkey over the past three years. She was two-months pregnant when she was sent to prison in the western province of Gebze on May 25, 2018. She also had two kids, 6 and 3 years old at that time.

She couldn’t leave behind her younger child, Musab; thus, she brought him along to prison. They did not provide a separate bed for her son in the eight-person ward. The pregnant woman stayed by sharing the same bed with his son in prison for months.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) ‘s deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a prominent human rights activist, has been fighting for her release from prison.

Turkish law forbids the arrest of pregnant women; however, this ban has not been applied for suspects from the Gulen movement and of Kurdish origin.

Gergerlioğlu filed a complaint on July 1, 2018, with the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) against the judge and prosecutor who gave the arrest decision for Elif Aydın. A response from HSYK to his complaint came 1.5 years later. They have not investigated it so far.

“By this decision, HSYK has become an accomplice to this crime,” Gergerlioğlu said.

Elif Aydın, on the other hand, is trying to be the voice of other arrested pregnant women by revealing what she had been through.

Aydın: “I fell downstairs twice”

“I was the director of a private student residence. That was the only accusation leveled against me. My husband had stayed in prison for a year over links to the Gulen movement. They arrested me nine months after he was released from jail. I left my older child behind and took Musab in prison with me. And I was pregnant with my third child. We all three were trying to sleep in the same bed.

“I fell downstairs twice and was taken to the hospital. My kid, Musab, also fell downstairs several times, and his face and eyes got hurt. The ward was an eight-person ward, but there were times also where nine people had been staying in our ward. The prison is tough for a woman with a child. It was summer, fortunately, when I was jailed, so we could spend most of our time in the yard. When it became colder, we had to stay inside.”

“There was no hygiene in prison. Musab’s eyes caught an infection. He hit his head on the bunk beds many times. He fell off the bunk bed, and he hurt his head and mouth. I was pregnant and was seeing all these (Musab had been through) so, I grew depressed.

“Many pregnant women were arrested like me. And, this is still going on. There are no special arrangements or facilities in place for pregnant women and children in prison. Life is quite hard in prison.”

Thousands of educators arrested

Erdogan’s regime mainly targeted well-educated people. About 1,400 Gulen-affiliated schools, kindergartens, student residences, and universities were shut down. Thirty thousand teachers were dismissed, and their licenses were revoked. Thousands of teachers were arrested.
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A Chat with Vonya Womack, a Human Rights Activist and Expert on Turkey and Its [Gulen Follower] Refugees

RICH FISHER

Following a recent coup attempt, more than 100,000 people were arrested and dismissed from their jobs in the Republic of Turkey. Turkey is also the world’s largest jailer of journalists; 300+ are now behind bars. Our guest is an expert on these and related matters: Vonya Womack teaches at Cabrini University in Pennsylvania and spoke recently at the Raindrop Turkish House in Broken Arrow, OK.

She spoke about her work as a human rights activist and about how she recently visited with Turkish political refugees in Greece. She tells us about these adventures on StudioTulsa.
The post A Chat with Vonya Womack, a Human Rights Activist and Expert on Turkey and Its [Gulen Follower] Refugees appeared first on Hizmet News.
Source: Hizmetnews