Turkey’s gov’t seizes local convenience store over coup charges

Turkish government has seized a local/neighborhood convenience store, called Sezer Gıda in Mardin’s Kızıltepe district over alleged links to the Gülen movement and appointed a trustee panel to take over the management.

The trustee panel appointed to Sezer Gıda, accused of giving financial support to the movement, included Zeynep Alkış, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party’s (AK Party) Central Decision and Executive Council (MKYK). Yet, according to Sözcü daily, Alkış turned down the post saying: “I didn’t not accept the task. I found it unethical since I know the owners of this market in person.”

The Turkish government had effectively confiscated 809 private companies by taking over their management or turning them over to the Treasury as of January 2017 as part of the crackdown on opposition and critical groups in the country, according to a parliamentary inquiry.

Responding to a motion filed by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Denizli deputy Melike Basmacı, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said the government had seized 809 companies as of Jan. 11, 2017 with a total value of TL 38.3 billion (nearly $10 billion).

Most of these companies were seized due to their owners’ alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Assets of prominent businessman Akın İpek, whose worth is estimated at $7 billion, were seized as well as all property and assets of Boydak Holding, a leading business group in the central province of Kayseri. The government also seized Bank Asya, the largest Islamic lender that is affiliated with Gülen, on dubious grounds of financial mismanagement in May 2015. The bank’s shareholders denied the allegations and launched a legal action.

The arbitrary seizures, considered as an attack on right to private property and right to free enterprise by many, drew negative reactions from the opposition as well as from abroad, shaking investors’ confidence in Turkish economy.

Turkey experienced a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, 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. (SCF with turkeypurge.com) May 3, 2017

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