Government punishing reassigned police officers

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Members of the police who have been reassigned to different positions following the start of a graft operation into the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government are now being appointed to small towns and districts in what many see as a form of punishment, sources in the police force say.

The Interior Ministry has ordered the removal of some 15,000 police officers from their posts in the aftermath of a corruption probe into the government which came to public attention on Dec.17, 2013. The ministry is now in the process of assigning the police officers to positions in remote locations in the province where they serve.

The AK Party government accuses what it calls the “parallel structure” of being behind the graft investigation, what many observers believe to be a veiled reference to the Hizmet movement. The police officers being reappointed to remote locations are, according to the Interior Ministry, affiliated with the “parallel structure.” In the Ankara Police Department, many officers in the Organized Crime and Smuggling Department, the Intelligence Department and the Counterterrorism Department have been assigned to small districts such as Akyurt, ElmadaI, Çubuk, Kazan, ÇamlIdere, Gudul, Haymana, KIzIlcahamam and NallIhan. Officers who couldn’t be assigned to those locations have been transferred to departments where they won’t be on active duty.

Officers being punished

A police officer who asked to remain anonymous and has worked for years in departments such as counterterrorism and intelligence told Today’s Zaman that “this is an attempt to deal a second blow to the officers who have been eliminated. It is not very important to us where we serve, but there is a deliberate intention here. Most of us have our lives established in central districts. It is difficult to move away and it is unacceptable to be forced to commute 100 or 200 kilometers a day. The Interior Ministry and the National Police Department are trying to force these officers to resign.”

Another member of the police force said that some police officers who have been threatened by terrorist organizations have been deliberately relocated to areas where those terror groups are most active.

These removals came on the heels of a recent investigation launched by Istanbul prosecutors into alleged bribery linked to public tenders. Two sons of Cabinet ministers were among 24 suspects detained as part of an investigation into bribery and fraud. The suspects are accused of rigging state tenders, accepting and facilitating bribes for major urbanization projects, obtaining construction permits for protected areas in exchange for money, helping foreigners to obtain Turkish citizenship through falsified documents, bribery and involvement in export fraud, forgery of documents and gold smuggling. There are also claims that some of the suspects illegally sold historic artifacts unearthed during the construction of the Marmaray rail project that connects the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.

(CihanToday’s Zaman)