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Genocide in the making: ‘Helping the needy families is an ‘act of terrorism’ in Turkey!

37 people have been detained on charges of sympathizing with the Gulen Movement for helping the needy families of the Movement-inspired inmates in Bartin, Karabuk, Isparta and Istanbul. The arrests were conducted in the wake of a so-called criminal inquiry by the Bartin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office; yet the operations and the motive for detaining these people have been intensively criticized in and out of Turkey.

The operations against the Gulen Movement have never ceased since the botched staged-coup attempt, and the Turkish regime operatives even resorted to blatant witch-hunts in the last couple of years. The recent raids conducted by the Bartin Police Department is pure evidence. The details and timeline of the operation were officially shared with the regime’s media outlets by the Bartin Police Department to conduct the raids through elaborated live coverage provided by a massive media presence.

According to the media cameras in active participation of the ‘sting’ operation, the police detained not only the ‘suspects’ but seized the warehouse of a businessman where essential items like cooking oil, sugar, and sanitary materials were stored to be distributed to the needy families. The media cameras could record and live stream the so-called ‘sting operation’ on national TV channels as if the detainees had been involved in any criminal activity.


While the nation anticipated with bated breath the Erdogan regime to conduct yet another military operation in Syria, people suddenly saw the news of raids conducted against the sympathizers of the Gulen Movement on their TV and digital screens. Urged by the Commander-in-Chief President Erdogan, Turkish Land Forces piled up a huge military presence at the Syria border; yet Russia, the United States and its Western allies have intervened and blocked the likely cross-border operation of the Turkish military in Syria. A few years earlier, such superficial agenda like military operations into Syria or dogfights over the Aegean Sea with Greek fighter jets conveniently helped to change talk on affairs in Turkey. Nowadays, things have irreversibly changed in the region and it is not easy for the Erdogan regime to manipulate the nation and remain in power with little effort.

Derogatorily showcased as the Public Enemy No. 1 and the scapegoat for all things gone awry under the Turkish skies, the Gulen Movement has always been considered by the Erdogan regime as an easy marker to gain political mileage and sustain the so-called developmental magic in the eyes of the public. The regime badly needed something to change the country’s agenda to make the public forget the botched Syrian operation. The latest operations against the sympathizers of the Gulen Movement were thus conducted in full presence of the media to help the Erdogan regime borrow time until the officials find another strategy to keep the regime afloat while appalling financial conditions ravage Turkey.


Innocent people have long been easy targets for the Erdogan regime in Turkey and they have not been given any constitutional rights. Since the failed coup attempt in July 2016, 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against the participants and sympathizers of the Gulen Movement, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in November 2021. These operations are conducted daily in Turkey; however, whenever the government needs an artificial agenda to change the mood of affairs, the officials conduct such operations in tandem with elaborated media presence similar to the one in Bartin province most recently.

Several journalists and opinion leaders reacted to the latest operation of the Bartin Police Department as follows;

“Objecting to such arrests does not make one into a supporter of the Gulen Movement. Yet, it just shows your conscience is not dead and you are human!” Mahmut Akpinar, an academic and journalist commented on the Twitter.

“Look at the extent of cruelty they inflict on people and there is still no reaction from the opposition!” Senior journalist Ergun Babahan commented on the Twitter.

“What’s wrong with that? Should people starve just because they were arrested and put on trial for an alleged crime, because they were expelled by a decree law? Should they be condemned to unemployment? Are you this far from rule of law and mercy? If so, cancel their citizenship as well!” Ismail Saymaz, a journalist closely linked with the Erdogan regime commented on the Twitter.

“Even this happened … The venue where the police raided with all its might was simply a food warehouse for the needy” commented Sevinc Ozarslan, a journalist and human rights activist, on the Twitter.

“Cooking oil and pasta to be distributed to the needy were seized today. When they conduct this seizure with official vehicles and label the arrested people as terrorists in the so-called media, they assume all is set according to the book” commented Akin Ipek, a prominent businessperson and the founder of the seized Ipek University and the seized Ipek Media Group.

Thousands of tweets were posted as a reaction of this operation today and the topic became one of the day’s trend topics. People launched the hashtag TerrorOrganizationOfCookingOil for mocking the mode of the police raid and shared their views and criticisms.

A US-based human rights organization, Advocates of Silenced Turkey appealed for the immediate release of the 37 people who were arrested only for helping the needy. “As AST, we strongly condemn such inhumane acts and reiterate our call for immediate end to these practices that are against the most basic human rights and which mercilessly follow the objective of exterminating a social group” stated the press release.

There are 30 universal human rights with the right to life being the most essential. If lives are not taken under guarantee, the rest of the rights would be meaningless. This is what’s happening now in Turkey as the participants and the sympathizers of the Gulen Movement are condemned to social death, the latest stage of an all-out genocide in a society. These people cannot defend their rights, cannot work, cannot socialize in any circumstance, cannot help one another, can read no book of their liking, and so on. International committees and organizations must immediately urge the Erdogan regime to end these merciless acts and oppression against all groups especially the Gulen Movement in Turkey and grant their basic rights with no concession. Otherwise, a genocide unfolding in full view will soon snowball and become out of control. One can only wish things will be forced to stop before the ultimate disaster strikes and participants of the Gulen Movement and all adherents of the oppressed communities will be relieved from becoming the casualties of a likely genocide in Turkey.

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Engin Yigit is a Politurco columnist, activist, and author. Follow him at @enginyigtt.

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