Lawyer Gönenç Gürkaynak, who represents Twitter in Turkey, used hate speech against supporters of the Gülen movement in a series of tweets on Saturday, asking if they ever consider exterminating themselves.
“For me and for people who think like me, those FETÖ [a derogatory term used by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization] members who started following me [on Twitter] after I criticized the AKP [acronym for Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party] were not transformed into people harmful to the homeland after the [corruption investigations of] December 17-25 ,” Gürkaynak tweeted. “They always were. And they [now] blame me for using the ‘AKP’s language’ when I say, ‘Don’t you ever consider exterminating yourselves by setting yourselves on fire?’”
Gürkaynak deleted his tweet on Monday after a flurry of criticism. Some users reported the tweet to Twitter, while others sent complaints to the bar associations Gürkaynak belongs to.
Calling for genocide against a group of people must have consequences in democratic countries. You will not get away with this simply by deleting your tweet. @GurkaynakGonenc
Cc: @NYCBarAssn https://t.co/PnJtgSbe0W pic.twitter.com/RtkaRvYG44
— Servet Akman (@servetakman_) October 11, 2021
Gürkaynak is a founding partner of ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law, a leading law firm based in İstanbul. He is a member of the New York and Brussels bar associations. Twitter is among the clients he represents in Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He locked up thousands including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation as well as journalists who reported on them.
Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the movement.