Several anonymous social media users who support Turkey’s ruling party AKP have started a smear campaign against the Gulen movement and its U.S. based-leader Fethullah Gulen.
It started after the police killing of George Floyd during an arrest, and mass protests against the police brutality emerged all around the country.
Some Twitter users shared fabricated photos of showing Gulen’s official account blames George Floyd and insult the protestors. They also added Gulen’s residence address in those tweets by pointing him as a target for the protesters.
A tweet called protestors to “kill Gulen for his stance against them.”
The official Twitter account of Fethullah Gulen published a statement denouncing the “fabricated photos” and said it reported those accounts spreading fake news to Twitter.
We are aware of fabricated images showing this account releasing untrue and false statements regarding the wrongful death of Mr. George Floyd. The posts have been reported to Twitter — please disregard. All official statements can be found on @FGulencomEN’s account.
— Fethullah Gülen (@FGulencomEN) June 1, 2020
“We are aware of fabricated images showing this account releasing untrue and false statements regarding the wrongful death of Mr. George Floyd. The posts have been reported to Twitter — please disregard,” the statement read.
Erdogan’s AKP has been targeting the Gulen movement as part of its mass crackdown on dissidents and opposing groups in Turkey. AKP-affiliated Turkish judiciary has targeted hundreds of thousands of people for their alleged connection with the movement.
Erdogan blames the movement for orchestrating the 2016 abortive coup, a self-pretense that Gulen and his movement denies any involvement.
Pro-Erdogan news portal targeted detainees with hate speech
A pro-government Turkish news portal published a misleading report targeting followers of the Gulen movement who were detained following a massive police raid to several apartments, as part of a mass crackdown.
The report entitled “Cryptic notes caught on sanitary pad in FETO house” claimed that “cryptic notes” were seized during the raids in 28 houses, ready to be sent to detained females via women’s pads.
The operations are part of an investigation Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launches. Upon a notice saying the movement has been reorganizing over university students, according to the report, anti-terror squads 58 people were detained.
The Turkish government outlawed the Gulen movement after the controversial coup attempt in 2016 and declared it as a terrorist organization with the acronym of FETO.
The notes pro-Erdogan media outlets published turned out to be “prayer texts” targeted people kept at home to read. The report is widely criticized for committing a hate crime without any investigation reads as follow:
“Cryptic notes were reportedly sent to one of the female suspects among the women’s pads, and also a cryptic order of the organization was conveyed to another suspect while departing from a hearing which issued a decision to extend the detention of the defendant.
“Do not benefit from effective remorse law”
As a result of the failure of these attempts, it was revealed that lawyers sent instructions to the FETO suspects, telling them not to benefit from effective remorse law (Turkish Penal Code 221/3, active cooperation with police). Some of the detained suspects wanted to benefit from the effective remorse law and provided information on the organization.
Issues of magazines of the terrorist organization and alcoholic beverage bottles were found among religious books at FETO’ s cell houses. Besides, there were so-called schedules about what to teach students on the phones of those responsible for the organization’s houses.
It was noted that some of the new university students to be recruited for the organization was reported from abroad, and they used an encrypted name to be accepted at home. Some testimonies stated that FETO’s arranged marriage system is continuing between members of the terrorist organization.
Snapchat and Whatsapp for contact
It was reported that among the members of the organization, widely used apps such as “Snapchat” and “WhatsApp” were used for communication. The texting app “Duo” was also in use.
The financial aid to the FETO houses was reportedly organized from abroad; the money was delivered to the person in charge of the organization house in crowded places, and this amount was raised to 600 Turkish liras from 400 in November 2019.”
Turkish authorities cancel press cards of critical journalists
Jailing more than a hundred journalists, Turkey has now canceled the press cards of the journalists who do not support the Erdogan regime. The authority to issue press cards was recently granted to the Presidency.
Evrensel daily is a Turkish left-leaning media outlet with modest circulation. The press cards of Evrensel employees who criticized the Erdogan Regime on various topics were canceled.
Cancellation brings with it a significant set of restrictions. Journalists without a press card cannot enter the sessions in the Parliament or the meetings where ministers and senior government officials are present.
Until a few years ago, a committee comprising of journalists and government officials held the authority to issue press cards. Although including the government representatives in the committee came under harsh criticism for years, the existing mode of conduct got worse, as the regime changed with the adoption of the presidential system in Turkey.
The representatives from the press were dismissed, and the committee became subordinate to the Communication Directorate of the Presidency. Press card requests of critical journalists were put on hold, and no new press cards were issued. However, it went even further. Press card cancellations have started.
Press cards of permanent cardholders Sultan Özer, Fevzi Argun, Evrensel newspaper’s editor-in-chief Fatih Polat, Editor-in-Chief Şengül Karadağ Bayhan and 14 other newspaper staff working in various departments were canceled.
Journalist union head’s press card canceled
Press cards of Vice President of the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) and Global News Director Gökhan Durmus were among those canceled. Checking the Press Card Query Section of the Communication Directorate of Presidency, the journalists saw the statement that their cards were canceled and called the Press Support Line of the Presidential Communication Directorate. However, the reasons for the cancellation of the cards could not be acquired since there was no response to calls throughout the day.
The number of journalists whose press cards are canceled is still unknown.
The practice was adopted against the Gulen movement
Journalists, who are perceived to be close to the Gülen Movement, had problems with their press cards since 2015. These members of the press, when their cards had expired, they could not renew them. After 2016, authorities started to deny cards to some names, even arrest them in some instances. Then pro-Kurdish journalists also had the same problem. Evrensel daily employees are also not given cards, and now the left-leaning media outlets also face the same problem.
Self-censorship draws ire as Turkey lifts Wikipedia ban
Turkey has lifted the ban on Wikipedia after a two-year block. However, the post that angered Erdogan seems to have been deleted from Wikipedia.
July 15, 2016, was one of the most important and influential moments in the history of Turkey. That night a failed coup attempt took place, which Erdogan named it “a gift to us from God.” Subsequently, Erdogan gathered all powers in Turkey into his own hands.
Wikipedia, the world’s largest online encyclopedia, added Erdogan’s name after the July 15 coup attempt in the “Dictators’ Self-coup List.”
Then the Erdogan regime banned accessing Wikipedia in Turkey on April 29, 2017. Banning anti-Erdogan websites from broadcasting is a common practice in Turkey.
As of October 2019, the number of websites banned in Turkey is 288 thousand 310.
Wikipedia was the largest website added to this list.
After two years of struggle by Wikipedia lawyers, the Supreme Court ruled for the lifting of the ban on Wikipedia.
With two detained members and Erdogan-appointed sitting members, The Supreme Court surprised everyone with such decision.
However, the truth is ultimately laid bare.
Erdogan’s name had been removed in Wikipedia from the list of leaders, who attempted self-coup.
With this change in the section, that annoyed Erdogan, 13 people’s names remained in the list of “The Post-Cold War Section” of “The list of those who had taken a coup against himself.” Maduro was added to the list with the update, and Erdogan was removed.
Wikipedia’s self-censorship is not new for Turkey. Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), is the Turkish state agency for monitoring, regulating, and sanctioning radio and television broadcasts, and RTÜK started overseeing Netflix in 2019 in Turkey, citing obscene content. Netflix initially opposed it but then agreed due to threats of shut-down.
Twitter is also in cooperation with Turkey on censorship, and thousands of Twitter profiles were blocked to access.
Online publications or other broadcasts encounter access barriers due to swift bans if they introduce question marks with regards to the July 15 coup attempt. This includes the main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement: “July 15 coup was a controlled coup.”
What is self-coup?
A self-coup is a form of putsch or coup d ‘état in which a nation’s leader, elected to power by legal means, renders the national legislature powerless or dissolves it and unlawfully assumes extraordinary powers not granted under normal circumstances. After the self-coup, the leader annuls the nation’s constitution or brings a new system by completely changing the former one. At the same time, he suspends the civil courts.