Local head of Turkey’s ruling AKP appointed as trustee for 7 seized companies in Gaziantep

Mahmut Birlik, vice chairman of the Gaziantep branch of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been appointed as trustee for seven companies that were seized and transferred to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) due to their owners’ alleged links to the Gülen movement.

According to a report by the left-leaning Cumhuriyet daily, Birlik was appointed as trustee for Naksan Holding, SOHO, Cardiatech Medical Products, Vera Marine, Verimli Plastic Film and Energy, Atlas Carpet and Furnishing and Sanal instruction simulator productions.

Thousands of companies, business associations and media outlets, including newspapers and television and radio stations established by people who are affiliated with the Gülen movement have been seized by the government.

More than 1,020 companies with a total value of $12 billion in assets have been seized and then transferred to the TMSF since a failed coup in 2016. The companies in question were mostly targeted as part of a sweeping state crackdown against the Gülen movement. Among the seized companies are more than 180 media outlets, most of which used to have critical editorial policies toward the government.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on March 15, 2018 that at least 402,000 people have been the subject of legal proceedings initiated by the Turkish government over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.” (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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