– Erdoğan’s long arm reaches to Norway, targeting critics of Turkish government
Turkey has escalated its witch hunt persecution on critics to Norway using government institutions, quasi-official parallel structures and affiliated NGOs, a report released by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has revealed.
The report, drawn from a case study on the Scandinavian country where some 17,000 Turks live, exposes how the current government in Turkey led by an oppressive leadership, has intensified spying, intelligence gathering and profiling of critics that at times led to harassment, intimidation, and hate crimes.
“Although critics of Erdoğan government feel relatively safe and secure from any violence in Norway unlike many other countries, they still face threats, are targeted by hate speech and defamation campaigns which stirs troubles in peaceful communities,” said Abdullah Bozkurt, the President of SCF.
“This pattern of behaviour by Turkish government and its proxies may amount to a hostile, unfriendly and unlawful practices especially in Norway, 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 autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who stated that no country in the world would be safe for the members of the Gülen movement, claimed that they have no right to a life and 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 Norwegian government has so far taken some counter-measures including legal and other moves to prevent such blatant interference by the Turkish government into the country’s internal affairs and protect its residents from the long arm of Erdoğan.
SCF has documented several 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, denial of entry to Turkey when they go for vacation or unlawfully seizing their assets.