Turkey has escalated its witch hunt persecution on critics to abroad using government institutions, quasi-official parallel structures and front NGOs, a report released by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has revealed.
The report, drawn from a case study on the Netherlands where close to half a million Turks live, exposes how the current government in Turkey led by an authoritarian and oppressive leadership, has intensified spying, intelligence gathering and profiling of critics that at times led to harassment, intimidation, hate crimes and even physical attacks including arson attempts.
“We mapped out ways and means of how Turkish government has been pursuing its critics and opponents in foreign countries, exporting divisiveness and stirring troubles,” said Abdullah Bozkurt, the President of SCF.
“Frankly, this amounts to a hostile, unfriendly and unlawful practices especially in the Netherlands, a country that is a NATO ally of Turkey,” he added.
Although critics from all walks of life including Kurds and Alevis were targeted in general in this stigmatizing effort by the Turkish government, members of civic group called the Hizmet (Gülen) movement, which is inspired by US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, have borne the brunt of this major campaign of witch-hunt.
Hizmet is a global movement that focuses on science education, volunteerism, community involvement, social work and interfaith and intercultural dialogue,
Turkish embassies, government agencies including intelligence service and non-governmental organizations affiliated with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have all involved in profiling and harassment of the Hizmet members.
This persecution is personally sanctioned by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who stated that no country in the world would be safe for members of Hizmet, vowed to pursue them wherever they are. His propagandists have even suggested assassinating and abducting critics abroad, and offered bounty on their heads.
To its credit, the Dutch government has so far taken some counter-measures including legal and diplomatic actions to prevent such blatant interference by Turkish government into the country’s internal affairs and protect people from the long arm of Erdogan.
SCF has documented many cases in this report, mostly from open sources and interviewed some victims. There have been other cases for which the victims do not want to report incidents for fear of further reprisals by the Turkish government such as jailing of victims’ relatives back in Turkey or unlawfully seizing their assets.
SCF believes the information presented in this research is accurate to the best of its knowledge and declares that it remains open to make corrections, updates if further information becomes available.
Feb. 27, 2017