"If you are against Gülen, you must be linked to Revolutionary Headquarters!"
BirGün, Turkey August 4, 2011
by Zeynep Kuray
The original Turkish version of this article can be viewed at the BirGün website.
BirGün is a Turkish daily national newspaper based in Istanbul. In a 2008 report entitled "Turkey -- Guide to Major Turkish Daily Newspapers 2008," the Open Source Center, which is run by the US government, gave its circulation as 7,015 and classified it under "pro-Islamic, liberal, leftist media." The OSC described its editorial line thus: "Birgun gives prominence to domestic, trade union, and labor issues. At the same time, it is critical of both the AKP and the opposition for not being democratic or transparent enough. It believes that the state-sponsored secularism pervasive in Turkey allows the state to use Islam as a political tool."
_The great irony of this article is that its author, Journalist Zeynep Kuray, was herself arrested, as reported by CNN on December 20, 2011, as part of a sweep of detentions and arrests that received widespread international criticism.
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Yeşim Kantekin, a coffeehouse employee and a university student, taken into custody at Kadıköy Kültür Coffeehouse, one of the targets of the latest police raids that are part of the so-called Revolutionary Headquarters operation, says that they became a target because they were engaged in an education and collaboration project that served as an alternative to the Fethullah Gülen community.
On July 30, 2011 at around 4 pm, 10 plain-clothes agents from the Anti-Terror Division of the Istanbul Police Department raided Kadıköy Kültür Coffeehouse and turned it upside down. The agents seized computers, hard disks, CDs and leftist books and also detained Kültür Coffeehouse employee and university student Yeşim Kantekin. Kantekin, who was released after four days of detention, spoke to ANF. Kantekin said that, as part of the Odak circle, they have been working for a long time on an education and collaboration project viewed as an alternative to the Gülen community and that is why they were targeted.
Kantekin recounted the raid: “They focused their cameras on us and said they would search the place. They showed their search warrant. The warrant listed my name, Doğan Can Baran’s name and the name of another friend of ours. They started to search upstairs and downstairs of the Coffeehouse. They seized Odak magazines, periodicals coming from other organizations and our recently published book Education and Collaboration Movement, Selections 1. They also seized computers, CDs, and hard disks. After the search, they wrote a report and made me read it. It was written in that report that Yeşim Kantekin was taken into custody since she was suspected of being linked to the Revolutionary Headquarters organization. As I was reading it, I realized I was going to be taken into custody. I did not sign the report since I had no association with such organization as alleged. They put me in a car and took me to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Yenibosna and then to the Anti-Terror Division at the Istanbul Police Department.”
Kantekin added: “At the same time, almost 30 police officers raided my home. No one was home since my sibling was at work. They hired a locksmith to open the door. They took away computers, my sibling’s laptop, and all hard disks. They did this without giving us any notice. They turned my home upside down. I don’t know exactly what they took but it is unacceptable for them to raid people’s homes and seize whatever they want.”
IN CUSTODY AND UNDER PRESSURE
Kantekin said she was pressured while in custody and added: “I was kept at the detention room for hours and then they took me to interrogation room. First, they showed me a black and white picture. They asked me whether I knew the person whose picture they showed to me. I said no, because I did not know that person. They sent me back to the detention room. They came back a few hours later and then showed me the picture of a fellow university student. I told them that I knew that person. They tried to exert pressure on me by saying, “How come you know this person but don’t know the other?” They started to ask several questions about that fellow university student. They asked me when the last time he came to the coffeehouse was, which places he would go and what he did, etc… Then they started to ask questions about me again; they asked me what kind of publications I read and how I made my living. Later I was referred to Beşiktaş Assize Court. Although I have been released they still have not returned my cell phone to me.”
POLICE’S SENSITIVITY TO GULEN
Kantekin pointed out that, within the Odak circle, they were developing an education and collaboration project that was alternative to the Fethullah Community and they recently published a book titled Education and Collaboration Movement, and that their activities might have produced some anxiety in the police ranks.
THEY AIM TO DESTROY ANY THOUGHT VIEWED AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THEIR SYSTEM
Kantekin explained that after publishing a book within the scope of creating an alternative education, they met a number of journalists, artists and intellectuals: “We received some great support. Kadıköy Kültür Coffeehouse is a place that contributes to this alternative education. I believe that it is because of this alternative education effort, they are targeting Odak.”
Kantekin reminded that today it is easier to send progressivists and rebels to jail, and a single book or a single phone call was a sufficient cause for that: “They are arresting Kurdish rebels for no good reason alleging that they are linked to KCK, and they round up socialists alleging that they are linked to Revolutionary Headquarters. Their aim is to intimidate and silence anybody who opposes them. They want to clean the field and to impose their system on the public. Detentions are a part of this policy of intimidation.
Kantekin said that several fellow students from Eskişehir University who worked on alternative education and collaboration initiatives and conducted several studies on the Fethullah Güven Community have been also arrested without any reason: “They are trying to destroy any thought and any attempt that can be viewed as an alternative to their system. This must be stopped.”