Audio records of a chatroom on social media app Clubhouse reveal a conversation among supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on how to exterminate alleged followers of the Gülen movement who are currently in Turkish prisons.
One user identified as Mustafa Aydın (@0854321) is heard asking, “Why is the government giving them food in prisons using my taxes?” in a video clip of the conversation that was shared on Twitter. “We shouldn’t give them any food. Let these dogs starve, then they’ll start chopping each other up, cooking and eating each other. Why should we care? We should exterminate them, destroy them completely.”
Audio records of a chatroom on @Clubhouse reveal a conversation among supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on how to exterminate alleged followers of the Gülen movement who are currently in Turkish prisons. #HateSpeech #StandUp4HumanRights pic.twitter.com/96Zd0ytvVF
— Stockholm Center for Freedom (@StockholmCF) August 9, 2021
Another user, Akif Şükür (@makifsukur), then suggests poisoning the prisoners. “It all comes down to a heroic prison cook mixing poison into their food,” he is heard saying.
“I don’t think this is a crime,” Aydın replies. “It is similar to how we use to poison stray dogs in the old days. Just like that we are going to poison and kill these garbage heads. Yet, we’re still giving them bread.”
“If a heroic cook did that, I swear I would look after his family,” Şükür then says.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
“One needs to find a poison that is not expensive, if you ask me,” a third user, Furkan Bölükbaşı (@dragosdream), says. “We need to decrease the cost, too. We shouldn’t be using too much of the government’s budget and people’s taxes.”
“You’re right, brother,” Aydın replies. “We shouldn’t even give them bread.”
Bölükbaşı, a research assistant at İstanbul’s Marmara University, denied on Twitter that he was the person who made that comment. Yet, a comparison of the voice heard on Clubhouse and a previous interview of Bölükbaşı found on YouTube suggests that they are one and the same.
In fact, Bölükbaşı went on to make similar comments in the series of tweets where he denied the accusations.
“Actually, I too am disturbed that those who killed unarmed people unmercifully get to relax in prisons using our taxes …” he said. “I’d be happy if they were [given the death penalty and] executed.”
Açıkçası ben de masum silahsız insanları acımasızca delik deşik eden, üstünden tankla geçen, bugün ellerine fırsat geçse yine gözlerini kırpmadan masum insanları katledecek hainlerin bizim vergilerimizle yan gelip yatmalarından rahatsızım. İdam edilmelerinden de mutluluk duyarım.
— Furkan Bölükbaşı (@furkancerkes) August 9, 2021
Pro-Erdoğan Twitter users continued using hate speech against the Gülen movement in response to news stories about the Clubhouse conversation.
“If you don’t feel sorry about FETÖ members [a derogatory acronym used by the government to describe the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization] who massacred innocents relaxing in prisons and if you don’t think they need to suffer a painful death, you should question your values,” one user said.
Yan gelip yatmak bir yana kahverengi tulum bile giydirilemedi. Takım elbise giyip saygın pozlarda geldiler mahkemelere.. Acırsan, acınacak hale gelirsin.
Her gün aldığım ölüm tehditlerini de haber yapsınlar bir gün çok duyarlılarsa..
— Hilâl Kaplan (@hilal_kaplan) August 8, 2021
In response, pro-Erdoğan columnist Hilal Kaplan said, “Let alne relaxing, we couldn’t even make them wear brown jumpsuits. They went to court in suits looking respectable.”
“If you pity, you’ll get pitied,” Kaplan added. “If they are so sensitive, let them also cover the news of the daily death threats I received.”
Hate speech against Gülen movement supporters has been widespread in Turkey since the corruption investigations of December 2013. Erdoğan himself used such words as “terrorists,” “traitors,” “vampires,” “leeches,” “tumor” and “virus” to refer to them. He in fact developed a unique vocabulary of 240 hateful slurs and insults that singled out the Gülen movement and eventually declared that the followers of the movement “have no right to life.”
Erdoğan’s followers have used hate speech frequently in different mediums including TV programs. Muttalip Kutluk Özgüven, a professor of communications, said followers of the Gülen movement who were not convicted by the courts should be sent to rehabilitation camps and subjected to psychological treatment.
“Their bodies do not belong to them. They have to serve Turkey’s interests. So I can’t accept these people being against the state. We have not used psychological methods on them,” he said in remarks that attracted widespread criticism on social media.
According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the Gülen movement.