The Gülen group did not infiltrate the bureaucracy but participated in it. If there is to be a “responsible” party, then it is the AKP government that made the political choice to hire the movement’s followers. Besides, it’s relevant to highlight that employment requirements in the state are designated in the law. And the government is fully responsible for the hiring process in the bureaucracy and public sector. Accordingly, just as the constitutional order determines in any democratic country, any citizen regardless of her or his personal worldview can become a civil servant in Turkey. Discrimination based on non-objective criteria cannot be done.
What is important is whether a person is qualified according to objective job requirements or not. The AKP has been the sole decision-maker for years. If there was any irregularity during the hiring of skilled employees, the responsibility is with the AKP. The AKP should have presented objective evidence and started an investigation regarding any alleged extralegal practice during the hiring processes in the Turkish public sector for which it was constitutionally responsible.
It’s unacceptable to persecute a whole group based on unfounded allegations nourished by persisting bias. However, this is what we witness happening in Turkey today. Allegations about the movement that it “stole” the questions of some centrally run entrance exams to register in a university or hold public positions are widely accepted in Turkish society, whereas the claimants have yet to put the evidence on the table to back these allegations. Numerous people have been labeled and dismissed from their posts with presidential decrees over baseless allegations.
For sure, prosecutors should investigate the claim that “the Gülenists stole the exam questions.” But they must set forth evidence if a crime was committed, and if it was, who committed it and whether or not it was organized or personal misconduct. However, we have a “small problem” in that context: Today’s Turkey, where the judiciary is de facto entirely under the government’s control and the constitutional order is not abided by, doesn’t facilitate fair and lawful investigations. The very biased and widely accepted discourse claims that all “Gülenists in public service” acquired their posts by “stealing the questions.”
This conviction without evidence and a trial cannot be questioned today, since everybody who criticizes it is labeled as a “Gülenist” and purged. Ankara’s mass crackdown on the alleged followers or supporters of the Gülen movement includes dismissing and terrorizing hundreds of thousands of people without evidence of a crime. People are simply persecuted and are expected to “prove their innocence” as in Third Reich Gestapo procedures.
Source: Excerpt from an article, titled “Demonization of the Gülen movement unfair and baseless,” by Prof. Mehmet Efe Çaman, published on Turkish Minute on August 26, 2020.
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