The Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have extended the ongoing oppression on critics to abroad by using government institutions, quasi-official structures and front NGOs, a report released by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has revealed.
The report, drawn from a case study on the Netherlands where close to half a million Turks live, exposes how the current government in Turkey, has intensified spying, intelligence gathering and profiling of critics that at times led to harassment, intimidation, hate crimes and even physical attacks including arson attempts.
“We mapped out ways and means of how Turkish government has been pursuing its critics and opponents in foreign countries, exporting divisiveness and stirring troubles,” said Abdullah Bozkurt, the President of SCF.
“Frankly, this amounts to a hostile, unfriendly and unlawful practices especially in the Netherlands, a country that is a NATO ally of Turkey,” he added.
Although critics from all walks of life including Kurds and Alevis were targeted in general in this stigmatizing effort by the Turkish government, members of the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, have borne the brunt of this major campaign of witch-hunt.
The movement denies any involvement.
According to the SCF report, Turkish embassies, government agencies including intelligence service and non-governmental organizations affiliated with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have all involved in profiling and harassment of the Gulenists.
This persecution is personally sanctioned by the Turkish President himself who stated that “no country in the world would be safe for members of the movement,” vowed to pursue them wherever they are. His propagandists have even suggested assassinating and abducting critics abroad, and offered bounty on their heads.
To its credit, the Dutch government has so far taken some counter-measures including legal and diplomatic actions to prevent such blatant interference by Turkish government into the country’s internal affairs and protect people from the long arm of Erdogan.
SCF has documented many cases in this report, mostly from open sources and interviewed some victims. There have been other cases for which the victims do not want to report incidents for fear of further reprisals by the Turkish government such as jailing of victims’ relatives back in Turkey or unlawfully seizing their assets.
SCF believes that the information presented in this research is accurate to the best of its knowledge and declares that it remains open to make corrections, updates if further information becomes available.