‘Police operations in BalIkesir during Friday prayer is to intimidate people’

Lawyers and officials from BalIkesir-based civil society organizations that were targeted by government-backed operations on Friday said police raids during the Friday prayer were intended to frighten people who support the educational, business and charitable activities of these organizations. As part of an investigation conducted by the BalIkesir Prosecutor’s Office and the BalIkesir 1st Penal Court of Peace, police officers raided numerous civil society organ

Lawyers and officials from BalIkesir-based civil society organizations that were targeted by government-backed operations on Friday said police raids during the Friday prayer were intended to frighten people who support the educational, business and charitable activities of these organizations.

As part of an investigation conducted by the BalIkesir Prosecutorand#39s Office and the BalIkesir 1st Penal Court of Peace, police officers raided numerous civil society organizations in BalIkesir province last Friday that are affiliated with the faith-based Ganduumllen movement, popularly known as the Hizmet movement, on allegations of fraud and misconduct.

Speaking with Todayand#39s Zaman, BalIkesir Businessmen Association (BIAD) President Osman Kurplikaya said that BIAD is a non-profit organization that serves to benefit businessmen in the area within the limits of the law.

Kurplikaya said police only seized documents for a project conducted by BIAD in collaboration with the European Union that the government already knew about.

Underlining the unlawfulness of the operations, Cengiz andCcedilaIlar AyyIldIz, lawyer for the BalIkesir New Hope Education and Culture Association, said projects that were already audited by ministry officials are now part of an investigation by the prosecutorand#39s office.

andldquoWe renounce this investigation as the prosecutor is trying to create a crime by collecting material [to fabricate evidence],andrdquo AyyIldIz said.

BalIkesir Alumni Association President Ahmet Polat stated that the police came to their offices with a photocopy of a search warrant that did not clearly indicate what was to be searched.

Polat highlighted that it was meaningful that the searches took place during the Friday prayer

Reiterating the fact that Edremit Education Volunteers Associationand#39s activities are open to the public and transparent, the associationand#39s president, Adem Uzun, stated that the governmentand#39s only aim is to spread fear among people who support peaceful civil social activities. Uzun underlined that they did not resist the officials who came to their offices despite the search being unlawful.

The Edremit Education Volunteers Association, BalIkesir Alumni Association, BalIkesir Businessmen Association, Merve Education Culture Solidarity and Fraternal Association, Gandoumlnen Education Volunteers Association, BalIkesir Education and Amity Association, and BalIkesir New Hope Education and Culture Association were all targeted by the police during the operations on Friday.

In the latest government-backed operation targeting the Ganduumllen movement on Saturday, four tax inspectors from the Ministry of Finance and some 40 police officers conducted a raid at the private andCcedilukurova Burandccedil College affiliated with the movement in the southern province of Adana, leading to protests by the studentsand#39 parents.

The inspections over alleged tax violations by school administrators were performed while around 800 students were in class.

School administrators and the studentsand#39 parents reacted harshly to the inspection, which they say was performed in an unlawful manner reminiscent of Turkeyand#39s old state-of-emergency periods.

The school is one of the most prestigious and successful schools operating in Adana The provinceand#39s most successful student — who received the highest score on this yearand#39s Transition to Higher Education Examination (YGS) — came from the private andCcedilukurova Burandccedil College.

Turkish Islamic Scholar Fethullah Ganduumllen, along with the schools and institutions inspired by his views and affiliated with the Ganduumllen movement, have been direct targets of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan ever since a corruption probe implicating senior members of the government became public on Dec.

17, 2013. ErdoIan, who refers to the movement as a andldquoparallel stateandrdquo or andldquostructure,andrdquo accuses the movement of being behind the corruption investigations.

In May of last year, then-Prime Minister ErdoIan publicly aised supporters of the ruling AK Party not to send their children to schools and educational institutions inspired by Ganduumllen. andldquoWe will not even give water to them [members of the Ganduumllen movement],andrdquo he vowed.

He also ordered officials at AK Party-run municipalities to seize land and buildings belonging to those affiliated with the Ganduumllen movement by any means.

h2andCcedilukurova Burandccedil College case file required to remain at courthouse, found at police stationh2 When andCcedilukurova Burandccedil Collegeand#39s lawyers asked the Adana Public Prosecutorand#39s Office on Monday for the details of the investigation into the college on Saturday, they learned that the case file was at the Adana police department, despite the fact that it was not to be taken from the courthouse.

Lawyer Ruhi HallaandccediloIlu told Todayand#39s Zaman on Monday that the case file can only be taken to the police station in extraordinary cases and in this case there is not even an order for detention. andldquoIf the case file is at the police station that means the case is politically motivated,andrdquo HallaandccediloIlu said.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman