Turkey’s intel agency threatens family of Turkish-German academic who criticized Erdoğan

Burak Çopur

Burak Çopur, a Turkish-German professor of political science at Germany’s Essen University, said in an interview with Ahval on Thursday that his family in Turkey received a warning call from the country’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) due to his critical comments about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Çopur said the caller identified himself as the MİT agent responsible for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The caller ID was not available, but his family thought he was really an agent because of the very specific questions he posed and the way he spoke. The caller warned them that their son should stop criticizing Erdoğan and defending Kurds and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Professor Çopur had started receiving threats in December 2019 after he supported the claims made in a documentary aired on German public broadcaster ARD about the Dersim massacre of 1937-1938 on social media. The documentary, “Forgotten Massacre – How Kemal Atatürk killed the Alevis,” claimed that upon the instructions of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who was president at the time, the Turkish government imported 20 tons of poisonous gas from Germany to be used against the perceived rebels in the eastern city of Dersim (current-day Tunceli).

Some Turkish-Germans supportive of the Turkish government then started a campaign asking Essen University to fire him, but Çopur says his university protected him. “Apparently in a second move now the state wants to silence me,” he said.

Professor Çopur said he was at the same time accused of membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist organization recognized as such by Turkey, the European Union and the US, and the Gülen movement, a religious group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.

“[These are] absurd allegations,” Çopur said. “I am an anti-militarist academic of Turkish origin and a conscientious objector. They are unhappy because I defend Kurdish rights.”

As for the claims that he was a member of the Gülen movement, Çopur said he was a leftist atheist so it was not possible for him to be a member of the movement.

According to a Deutsche Welle Turkish service report, Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the country’s domestic security agency, said in a report that Germany is one of the main targets of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization.

Professor Çopur’s attorney Mehmet Kılıç says MİT has an informant network of around 8,000 people in Germany. The country is home to some 3 million people of Turkish descent.

According to secret government documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, Turkish government’s campaign to establish a clandestine network of informants among residents of Germany led to the criminal investigation of critics of President Erdoğan on fabricated charges.

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