By Ahmed J Versi
“We thought the era of coup was over in Turkey. That is why everyone in Turkey, the Government and the opposition were surprised and taken aback with the July 15 failed coup,” AK Party MP for Adana, Talip Kucukcan told British Muslims earlier this month. He was part of a cross party group delegation from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey visiting London.
The Head of the Turkish Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe said Turkey “faced an existential threat.” He alleged that the failed coup was perpetrated by head of the Gulen Movement, Fethullah Gülen, who is living in the US. Kucukcan alleged they had testimonies from the perpetrators of the failed coup on this.
He said on the coup came at a time when Turkey was facing PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) terrorism and five to six terrorist attacks in big cities by Daesh.
Kucukcan justified declaration of State of Emergency, crackdown on thousands of Gulen supporters from all areas of society by saying “we had to act fast to counter the coup”. He added that not all of the 30,000 people have been arrested, “some have been suspended from their jobs, some arrested, some will face trial if there is evidence linked to the Gulan and involved in the illegal activity.”
Kucukcan said 2,000 conscripts were released within three days who were on the streets without realising what was happening.
No one understands the enormity of what has happened, he said, justifying the detention of the thousands of alleged members and supporters of Gulen.
Kucukcan argued that the Gulen movement’s image of following “moderate Islam” is a “deception”. “Their writings, work should not blind us. They bombed Parliament, took tanks on to the streets and killed civilians.”
He said that the Government has support of all the opposition parties. He was backed by MPs in the delegation from two opposition parties, Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) party was not part of the delegation. They were invited to be part of the delegation but they did not apply to join, said Kucukcan.
The Parliament was bombed as MP for Antalya, Mehmet Gunal, was entering the building. “There was also shooting on the streets,” the member of the MHP opposition party said. The Parliament was in session when it was attacked. “It was a real event, not a movie. So we have to take this into account,” he added. He added that one of his relatives was fired from his job. “We are waiting for him to go through the judicial process,” he said and hoped he would be released soon.
Gunal said his party will be monitoring what the Government is doing. “We want to make our democracy better. We need your support and prayers.”
Another opposition MP, Mevlut Dudu, said they were concerned about the detention of the large number of people and they are “taking the issue seriously”. The CHP MP for Hatay said all political parties have agreed to “protect innocent people not involved in the coup. We have established a commission to protect their rights.”
Would the rapprochement with Russia after the failed coup mean Turkey is no more interested in the overthrow of Assad? Kucukcan replied Assad must leave. However, he added that Turkey cannot do it on its own. “Turkey does not have a magic power to resolve all the crises.” He said Turkey is fighting against PKK, Daesh, is hosting 3 million Syrian refugees. “Turkey can’t shoulder all responsibilities on its own. It is the responsibility of the ummah too. Turkey is located in a fragile place and therefore needs more support of its allies.”
Turkey could fall foul of Nato’s “requirement with respect to democracy” if it fails to uphold the rule of law in the wake of an attempted coup, the US Secretary of State John Kerry had warned Turkey. However, Gunal told The Muslim News that Turkey has received “no such threats to leave Nato.”
Kucukcan and the other members of the delegation complained that when Turkey was attacked in the coup, they hoped the West “would have stood by us. No one came to Turkey. Only Foreign Minister Sir Alan Duncan came ‘to express the views of Britain.’”
“When attack took place in Belgium and France, not only did Turkey condemn the attacks but also sent Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Paris. No such reaction in support of Turkey took place after the coup took place.”
Kucukcan acknowledged that not only AKP Party and Erdogan had good relations with Gulen but many politicians too because “we believed his movement was peace loving, focused on charity and on education. But we now realise that this was not the case. Erdogan apologised not being able to see the real intention of Gulen.”
Gunal said Gulen movement established strong bond with the judiciary. “It wasn’t a secret that Gulen movement had infiltrated the judiciary. I saw this as a lawyer.”
Dr Osman Askin, AK Party MP, said after the coup all the opposition came together in support of the Government and democracy and future of Turkey. “This was unique in Turkey that all the opposition joined with the ruling AKP party.”
“We lost 250 people, and 2000 injured. My close friends were killed too. The Parliament was bombed nine times.”
Kucukcan said Erdogan accepted that there was intelligence failure. Erdogan said the intelligence failed to tell him how/where and when it would happen. “Therefore it must be reformed.” The head of intelligence was relieved by Erdogan.
Azmi Ekinci, AK Party MP claimed that when Chief of General Staff, Hulusi Akar, was captured “those who captured him told him to talk to Gulen on the phone to convince him to support the coup. He refused. He was also asked to sign declaration by the plotters, he refused again.” This, he argued, showed that Gulen was involved in the coup.
[Photo: Delegation from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey at the Muslim Council of Britain Headquarters in London. L to R: Azmi Ekinci, Mevlut Dudu, Mehmet Gunal, Talip Kucukcan and Dr Osman Askin Bak. Photgrapher: Ahmed J Versi/The Muslim News)