Turkish NGOs want action on corruption, ‘parallel state’ claims

Turkish NGOs want action on corruption, ‘parallel state’ claims

Turkish NGOs want action on corruption, ‘parallel state’ claims

Representatives from seven non-gonvernmental organazations expressed their concerns over the recent political developments in Turkey. AA Photo

The grave political turmoil and polarization in Turkey has triggered uproar from leading civil society organizations that have declared that both corruption allegations involving the government and claims about a “parallel state” are harming democracy, peace and stability. 

Representatives of seven nongovernmental organizations held a joint press conference on Jan. 17 to publicly express their concerns over the recent crisis in the country.

“We, who produce and work for Turkey, have come together to assess the process that we have been experiencing,” said a joint declaration issued by the Confederation of Turkish Craftsmen and Tradesmen (TESK), the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), the Turkish Union of Agricultural Chambers (TZOB), the Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (TÜRK-İş), the Turkish Confederation of Employers’ Unions (TİSK), the Labor Confederation (HAK-İŞ) and the Civil Servants Trade Union (MEMUR-SEN), whose representatives were present at the press conference. 

“The corruption claims and parallel state claims that have infested the environment have been threatening societal peace and stability and openly posing a danger against our internal peace,” the group said, urging the authorities to work toward enlightening all claims.

The term “parallel state” is commonly used by critics of the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, many of whom have been employed in the judicial and security bureaucracy.

The government recently accelerated a purge of a judiciary Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan considers to be embroiled in a plot to undermine him with specious corruption allegations.

The removal of a series of high-profile prosecutors on Jan. 16 hit at the heart of investigations made public on Dec. 17, 2013, that have put Erdoğan into one of the biggest crises of his 11 years in power. They came a day after the government tightened its grip on a panel that controls the appointment of all judges and prosecutors. 

The developments, which will deepen segregation in society instead of strengthening unity and solidarity and threaten the trust in agencies and institutions, are making it harder for people to focus on peace, democracy and developments, TESK head Bendevi Palandöken said.

The civil society grouping also underlined that Turkey was still waiting for a new Constitution that complies with the principles of universal law and EU standards.

Erdoğan’s supporters see Gülen – a former ally whose network of followers is influential in the police and judiciary – as a prime mover in a smear campaign. Erdoğan sees the investigation, like the Gezi Park Resistance in 2013, as a “foreign-backed plot.” 

The affair has exposed a deep rift within the political establishment, shaking markets, helping drive the Turkish Lira to new lows and prompting expressions of alarm from Washington and Brussels about threats to the independence of the judiciary.