Taking advantage of Turkey’s state of emergency
A police operation in relation to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) was conducted at the Mersin Metropolitan Municipality in southern Turkey and 25 people were detained on Aug. 2, 2016. The same day, police came to the Ankara home of Erkan Karaarslan, one of the advisors of Mersin Mayor Burhanettin Kocamaz from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). They searched the house.
Karaarslan was in Aydın at the time of the raid. He asked the police from his wife’s phone, “Shall I come?” Police told him he had to give a statement the next day. After those detained on Aug. 2 were arrested on Aug. 10, Karaarslan went to Mersin on Aug. 11. He went to the police station, gave his statement and was detained. He was sent to the prosecutor’s office on Aug. 18 but before he even saw the prosecutor he was taken directly to the judge, who decided to arrest him. He has been in prison since that day.
“We never even once read the Zaman newspaper. We never bought it. It never entered our house. We do not know anything about the schools and discussion meetings of this movement. We never gave money to them. We only heard about the ByLock program after the coup attempt. The state has listed 16 criteria for FETÖ suspects and my husband does not have even fulfil one of them,” said his wife Selma Karaarslan.
So why has he been arrested?
The reason is personal animosity. As his wife explained: “A person named Haldun Haşmet Aysan was an enemy to my husband, thinking he took his job from him. He tricked the local press into writing negative stories about him. Then when Aysan was detained, he told police that Karaarslan was a member of FETÖ.” Karaarslan was accused of carrying cash to the U.S. on a family vacation in 2014. “Customs in the U.S. did not even permit some of the Turkish packed food items that I put in the suitcase. So how could we ever carry cash?” said his wife Selma.
The first hearing in the case was in January and the second was in February. The court decided to continue Karaarslan’s arrest, even though most other defendants were released. “The other three defendants were proved to be users of ByLock,” said Selma, referring to the messaging app used almost exclusively by Gülenists.
The Mersin mayor took part in the third trial as a witness, describing what he called a “conspiracy” against the municipality. But Karaarslan was not released.
While all this was happening, their daughter developed psychological problems and started not going to school. She was always asking about her father and she was constantly thinking about what she would tell her friends. Her mother was unable to pay her school fees and she dropped out of school.
Selma Karaarslan is now on medication. “I’m not even dying my hair anymore and it has gone all white. I don’t want to live anymore. The only thing that keeps me going is my daughter,” she said. She cannot pay back bank loans, while the family home and office are both under mortgage and she cannot sell them.
She says the person who testified against her husband, Haldun Haşmet Aysan, was greeted by police when he came to Mersin. “Aysan had breakfast with a police chief and was taken directly to the provincial police director. It is highly unusual for an ordinary person to see the provincial director. Clearly this conspiracy has been very well planned,” she said.
The example of the case of Karaarslan openly shows us that for certain people the July 2016 failed coup attempt was an opportunity. Many of them have used this path to pursue personal grudges.
They have taken advantage of the ongoing State of Emergency (OHAL) and in the process they have destroyed families.
Doesn’t the administration see this?