Gov’t-led KPSS probe to pave way for partisan recruitments in civil service

A total of 61 people were detained on Monday as part of a five-year-old case involving allegations of cheating on a centralized exam used to determine those eligible to be employed in state agencies, increasing fears that the government aims to ease the way for nepotism within the recruitment process and also frame members of the faith-based Gulen movement on false criminal allegations. A further two suspects were detained on Monday in the western city of Bursa

A total of 61 people were detained on Monday as part of a five-year-old case involving allegations of cheating on a centralized exam used to determine those eligible to be employed in state agencies, increasing fears that the government aims to ease the way for nepotism within the recruitment process and also frame members of the faith-based Ganduumllen movement on false criminal allegations.

A further two suspects were detained on Monday in the western city of Bursa as the scope of the operation widened to include 14 provinces in total.

An Ankara prosecutor also ordered the detention of a further 21 individuals on Monday, indicating new waves of detentions are in the pipeline.

The arrests are related to a case involving alleged cheating on the State Personnel Examination (KPSS) dating back to 2010 after more than 3,227 people answered most or all of the questions on the KPSS correctly — a first in Turkey — leading to claims that some of the candidates had either cheated during the test or obtained the questions beforehand. The operation, instigated by the Ankara Public Prosecutorand#39s office, took place in 14 cities around Turkey with 82 people detained but later released due to insufficient evidence.

In 2010 it was revealed that some of the most successful candidates were either married to each other or friends living in the same house. Claims emerged that copies of the KPSS questions had been obtained before the exam and were shared among thousands of candidates.

Four of the suspects were detained in the Istanbul districts of BayrampaIa, andUumlmraniye and Bahandccedilelievler after their homes were searched. The four detainees were taken to the Haseki Training and Research Hospital for a medical screening before being taken in custody after which they were brought to the Istanbul Police Department headquarters.

Many see the timing of the government-led operation as a smokescreen for the ruling Justice and Development Partyand#39s (AK Party) goal of removing the centralized exam system and introducing an interview-based exam process in its place — independently undertaken by each state institution — to provide an aantage to candidates with andldquoreferencesandrdquo from AK Party politicians. There have been long-standing criticisms of the AK Party for appointing partisans to positions in public office in order to ensure that the partyand#39s brand of Islamist political ideology is dominant within government bureaucracy.

h2 CHP deputy: AK Party is saying, andlsquoWe want our people in civil serviceand#39h2 Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman, Akif Hamzaandccedilebi, said during a press statement on Monday that the government-led operation involving the KPSS case from five years ago lays the groundwork for the governmentand#39s goal of abolishing the KPSS exam

Speaking of the AK Partyand#39s desire to employ people possessing the same ideology within the civil service, Hamzaandccedilebi said: andldquoThe AKP [AK Party] doesnand#39t want an objective exam Theyand#39re saying, andlsquoWe want our people to be employed in the civil service.and#39 They want a KPSS exam and theyand#39re going to conduct these exams in their [AK Party] headquarters.

andrdquo

h2 Attempts to link Ganduumllen movement with KPSS operationh2 Another important aspect is that the case has been reopened, and attempts are being made to link the scandal with the Ganduumllen movement, after ErdoIan publicly stated that he is planning a andldquowarandrdquo against the movement — a grassroots social initiative devoted to educational activities.

Fethullah Ganduumllen — a reclusive Turkish Islamic Scholar who preaches tolerance and interfaith dialogue between Islam and other main world religions — and members of his movement have been the target of President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan and his associates within the government.

ErdoIan blames the Ganduumllen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, for instigating the corruption probes that went public on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013.

ErdoIan, who claims the movement tried and failed to carry out a coup aimed at him and the government, has waged a self-declared war going so far as to say, andldquoIf reassigning individuals who betray this country is called a witch hunt, then yes, we will carry out this witch hunt,andrdquo during a speech at the 22nd Consultation and Assessment Meeting of the AK Party in 2014. Since the corruption probes went public ErdoIan has mobilized government institutions, including the judiciary, against the Ganduumllen movement based on fabricated evidence with many articles appearing in pro-government newspapers linking the movement to various unsolved political murders, illegal acts and even coup plots.

h2 ErdoIan had indicated PKK behind alleged cheating in 2010h2 ErdoIan, who was prime minister when the exam took place, had said that the exam answers were published on a website known for its affiliations with the outlawed Kurdistan Workerand#39s Party (PKK).

andldquoWhat is the purpose? To cast a shadow over a very sensitive examination like the KPSS.

[The purpose is] to terrorize an exam like the KPSS — which is the hope of millions, which is the future of millions — to hurt the people where it hurts the most. They [PKK] toyed with the sensitivities of millions of youngsters,andrdquo ErdoIan said back in 2010.

h2 Lawyer: Govand#39t trying to link Ganduumllen movement to KPSS caseh2 Yavuz Porikli, the lawyer representing Samanyolu schools based in Ankara known to be affiliated with the Ganduumllen movement, talked to Todayand#39s Zaman saying that they were expecting the operation to extend to their school. Pointing out the governmentand#39s effort to link the KPSS case with the Ganduumllen movement, Porikli said, andldquoThe prosecution is taking action on a case that has been closed due to a lack of evidence.

andrdquo

Stating that the prosecutor of the KPSS case has been changed three times because they were unable to find any evidence to support the claims, Porikli pointed out, andldquoThe third prosecutor, Yanduumlcel Erkman, undertook the case and is trying to revive it, but the case is empty.andrdquo

andldquoIand#39m not saying there has been, but even if there was a case of cheating on the [KPSS] exam in 2010, the law criminalizing collective acts of cheating on exams was only enacted in 2011.

There can be no such thing as the law working its way back in time [being retroactive],andrdquo said Porikli.

h2 Govand#39t whistleblower warns of operation a week in aanceh2 Fuat Avni, the infamous government whistleblower, tweeted on Thursday that ErdoIan has given pro-government prosecutors permission to begin a police operation targeting suspects charged with cheating on the KPSS.

Last week the Zaman daily published documents which reveal that a plot was devised to unjustly hold members of the Ganduumllen movement responsible for a KPSS cheating scandal in 2010.

According to a story in the Taraf daily in January, the ruling AK Party government had prepared an action plan to remove the requirement for civil service position candidates to take the KPSS in order to pave the way for partisans to be employed by the state.

The document, labeled andquottop secretandquot and bearing the phrase andquotsubmitted to the gentlemanandquot (a name commonly used to refer to ErdoIan by his associates), was published in the newspaper and indicated how the government intended to abolish the KPSS and replace it with an interview-based process.

The obligatory status of the KPSS was introduced during the term of late Prime Minister Banduumllent Ecevit in order to remove favoritism and nepotism in the government.

The system has by and large provided equal employment opportunities in the civil service.

h2 No progress made in 5 years, case reopened after govand#39t declares war with Ganduumllenh2 Although no progress has been made in the investigation over the past five years, the government recently ordered the Student Selection and Placement Center (andOumlSYM), an institution administering nationwide examinations in Turkey, to examine the 2010 cheating claims.

The move raised concerns that the government aims to use the cheating scandal to frame the Ganduumllen movement for being involved in illegal activity.

The Zaman daily last Saturday published documents revealing that the plot against the Ganduumllen movement was planned as far back as 2010.

As part of the investigation launched into the scandal, Berat K, who works at a Ganduumllen-affiliated association, and Baki S, who allegedly received the questions from Berat K beforehand, were detained in 2010. Berat K was charged with stealing the exam questions and sending them to his friend, Baki S

The computers at the association where Berat K worked were seized as part of the investigation but experts did not find the questions.

Baki S had said in his testimony that Berat K sent him the questions via e-mail, however, Berat K denied the accusations.

Five years later, following a major reshuffling of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TandUumlBITAK) by the government, the computers were taken from evidence storage and re-examined.

On this second examination, the questions are alleged to have been found.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman