Turkish court sentences man more than 8 years in prison over his legal complaint against Erdoğan’s hate speeches

A Turkish court has sentenced a man for 8 years, 1 months and 15 days in prison on Friday due to his legal complaint against the systematic hate speeches of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan targeting the members of the Gülen movement.

İzmir 17th High Criminal Court has sentenced Satılmış Çal, who is a primary school graduate construction worker, over his legal complaint against Erdoğan’s hate speeches targeting the the followers of the Gülen movement in the aftermath of December 17/25, 2013 corruption scandal.

A major corruption investigation had started in Turkey in which Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab was the prime suspect in December 2013.  Together with others from the inner circle of the ruling AKP government, Zarrab had paid bribes for the family members of the then-Prime Minister Erdoğan and public bank officers to facilitate transactions benefiting Iran. After Erdoğan cast the case as a coup attempt to overthrow his government orchestrated by his political enemies, several prosecutors were removed from the case, police were reassigned and the investigation into Zarrab was dropped.

Denying that he had not mobile phone messaging application ByLock as it was claimed in the indictment, Çal has stated in his last hearing before the court on Friday that he has only deposited his golds and jewellery in his house into Bank Asya in order to protect them from thieves.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Bank Asya was closed by the government in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over its affiliation with the Gülen movement.

Çal has accepted that he made a legal complaint against hate speeches made by Erdoğan following the 2013 corruption scandal, however he added that his application was not accepted by the prosecutor. He stated that he has never taken any order from anybody to make a legal complaint against Erdoğan’s hate speeches.

SCF released a report on May 22, 2017 and identified insults, hateful narrative that targeted the Gülen movement made by Erdoğan during his public speeches he delivered in the last three years. The peaceful Gülen movement has received the brunt of firebrand Erdoğan’s hurtful utterance of words such as “terrorists”, “traitors”, “vampires”, “leeches”, “tumor”, and “virus” etc.. Having developed a unique vocabulary of 240 hateful slurs and insults that singled out Gülen movement, Erdoğan eventually declared the participants of the movement “have no right to life.”

When compared with other targeted groups or countries by Erdoğan, astonishingly similar words have been used. The unrelenting attacks against the Holy Sea, especially the Pope, the Netherlands and Germany during the referendum campaign in March and April resemble very much to the narrative Erdoğan employed against the Gülen movement.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempton July 15, 2016 that killed 249 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.

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 civil servants since July 15, 2016. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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