An exemplary village headman from Mersin

An exemplary village headman from Mersin

In Cemilli village, located in the Mediterranean province of Mersin, there are 85 households and has a population of 300 residents. It does not have a health center or a school, but it is close to the city center. It has electricity and running water. The muhtar (village headman) has a computer. 

A piece written by Abidin Yağmur in daily Cumhuriyet reported that a villager identified as H.G. from Cemilli wrote a tipoff letter to the gendarmerie last August, which claimed that 27 people from the village had links to terror organizations. 

According to the article, almost 10 percent of the population had links to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).  

After the tipoff, the gendarmerie went to the village and found H.G. and asked about his letter. But then it was reported that H.G. was illiterate and denied he wrote it. He claimed that the muhtar made him sign an empty piece of paper. The investigation was stopped. 

It was later revealed that the muhtar, Halil Bağcı, sent a tipoff to security forces last September accusing 18 people from the village of having terror links; some of them were FETÖ and the others were PKK and DHKP-C; if they were none, they had allegedly insulted the president. An investigation was launched into the village which now seems to have turned into a “terror cocktail.” The tipoff was serious. The village headman reported that one of the villagers had said that he would’ve celebrated at the village square had the coup attempt been successful. Authorities and anti-terror squads came to the village and started interrogating the 18 people involved. 

It was later unfolded that the village’s former muhtar, Fevzi Efe, known as “communist Fevzi”, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said that because of a rivalry between him and the current muhtar Bağcı, the latter had denounced him because of elections and water problems of the village. Efe said the victims were either his family members or political rivals of Bağcı and the latter was taking revenge from those who did not vote for him. Another villager who was interrogated said: “The muhtar takes revenge on anybody he has a fight with. He sends baseless tipoff letters. At one point, he threatened us by namedropping a relative of his saying that he was a powerful person. That relative was eventually handcuffed because he was a member of FETÖ. Now, he is accusing us of being a FETÖ member.” 

This is what the patriotic, terror-fighting village headman said: “When there was an investigation launched, police came to the village. They also asked me questions, and I told them what I know, what I have seen. That’s how I was informed about the investigation…” 

The Interior Ministry’s website also offers a guide on how to write tipoffs for village and neighborhood muhtars. The website welcomes visitors with the meaningful words: “The vision of being a great nation starts from the local.”

This is the era of the heroic “muhtars” who have “evidence” that a village with a population of 300 can be a center for PKK, FETÖ and DHKP-C. We have a bright future, and our informants are even brighter. 

Here is the 2017 model for Turkey; this is unity and solidarity. This is the vision and here is the village headman we all want to see. 

Let us all enjoy it.