Turkish gov’t seizes and transfers 6,700 properties belonging to alleged members of Gülen movement

The most of the science schools seized from the alleged members of the Gülen movement have been transformed to religious schools (İmam Hatip Schools) by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

At least 6,700 pieces of real estate that were seized from alleged members of the Gülen movement have been transferred by Turkey’s General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre to the Treasury and the General Directorate of Foundations since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

According to a statement issued by Turkey’s General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre on Sunday, 4,583 properties had been transferred to the Treasury as of July 9, 2018, and 2,117 properties were transferred to the General Directorate of Foundations. In total 6,700 properties that used to belong to alleged members of the Gülen movement have been transferred to public institutions.

In addition, investigations carried out by the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre into 348,151 properties are still underway. According to the statement, investigations of 121,696 properties were launched following requests from administrative authorities and probes of 226,455 properties were launched upon the request of judicial authorities.

The statement also said the assets of alleged members of the Gülen movement, in particular those who were the subject of administrative or legal investigations, have been seized. The seized real estate includes properties belonging to preparation courses, dormitories, schools, foundations, associations and companies.

The statement said all the properties belonging to alleged members of the Gülen movement were blocked in the Land Registry and Cadastre Information System (TAKBİS) and that the properties of foundations were transferred to the General Directorate of Foundations and that the other properties were registered to the Treasury.

Transactions conducted by alleged members of the movement have also been evaluated as “property abduction” and prosecuted, according to the statement. The General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre has also created a “Risk Notification and Inquiry Screen” in order to detect alleged members of the Gülen movement. At least 45,186 people who were reported by judicial and administrative authorities to the general directorate have been registered with the screen and profiled since its design on August 16, 2016.

The statement also underlined that 1,174 of these names were determined and recorded by personnel of the general directorate without any reporting from any legal or administrative authorities.

The Turkish government has seized nearly 1,100 companies across Turkey with a total value of $12 billion in assets and transferred them to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). The companies were mostly targeted as part of the government crackdown on the Gülen movement.

According to a survey conducted by Brussels-based The Arrested Lawyers Initiative in June 2018, the Turkish government has transferred some TL 49,4 billion ($11 billion) in assets of 1,124 companies seized for alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement to a special fund under a crackdown that began following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The survey said that as of June 4, 2018 the TMSF controls 1,124 seized companies and also the personal assets of 127 individuals. Among the companies are Boydak Holding, which has 34 subsidiaries including the Bellona and İstikbal furniture makers and retailers, with 1,240 retail stores. Boydak employs 14,000 people and indirectly creates 110,000 jobs, the survey said.

The other seized major Turkish companies cited in the survey include Koza, Dumankaya, Akfa, Orkide, Sesli and Naksan

Turkey has seized the companies under presidential decrees, and their owners had no judicial recourse. The proprietors are allegedly members of the Gülen movement. Trustees have been appointed to run the companies against their shareholders’ wishes.

The companies are active in all areas of business and trade including investment, mining, petrol distribution, automotive, auto-gas, energy, transportation, food, agriculture, home textiles, furniture, jewellery, pharmaceuticals, law and IT, said the survey.

The value of the assets seized does not include those of 127 individuals, 19 unions, 15 private universities, 49 hospitals, 145 foundations, 174 media outlets, 1,419 foundations and another 2,271 education companies, it said. The total value of all assets confiscated could total TL 100 billion, added the survey.

According to the survey, at the very beginning of a state of emergency (OHAL) declared on July 23, 2016 in the aftermath of the coup bid, 934 private schools, 109 dormitories, 35 hospitals, 15 private universities, 16 unions, 104 foundations and 1,125 associations were dissolved and all their assets including real estate, bank accounts, intellectual property and other financial assets were transferred to the public treasury. As of June 4, at least 4,100 profit-oriented or non-profit legal entities had been dissolved, and their assets were confiscated under decree-laws without any judicial procedure.

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 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. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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