Thursday February 22, 2024

Controversies and allegations against Turkish President Erdogan

By our correspondents
July 17, 2016

LAHORE: During the last one decade or so, numerous controversies and scandals have haunted the 62-year old Turkish President Recap Erdogan, his family members and his cabinet loyalists, both within and outside Turkey.

Research shows that in June 2016, a large number of German individuals and civil rights groups, including politicians, activists and artists etc had filed a criminal complaint against Turkish President Erdogan on charges of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” in relation to the country’s ongoing anti-terrorism operations in the southeastern Kurdish provinces.

According to the renowned German media outlet “Deutsche Welle,” a complaint with the Federal Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Germany had also included accusations against former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, as well as country’s senior officials in the military and the police.

Among the signatories were German Left Party lawmakers Andrej Hunko, Harald Weinberg and Ulla Jelpke.

In 2016, Erdogan, under whom the Turkish public debt as a percentage of annual GDP had declined from 74 per cent in 2002 to 39 per cent in 2009, was accused of forcing the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu due to latter’s skepticism over the proposed presidential system. Davutoglu was replaced by Premier Yildrim.

Erdogan also came under fire for constructing the world’s largest palace on a 50-acre land of the Ataturk Forest Farm and Zoo for his own use as president and has been repeatedly accused of breaching the constitutional terms of his office by not maintaining political neutrality. The palace was said to be worth $350 million.

(References: April 9, 2016 edition of the daily Hurriyet newspaper and the New York Times etc).

The Turkish president has often been alleged by Israel and Russia of maintaining financial links with the ISIS or Daesh. (Reference: The Newsweek)

In early October, United States Vice President Joe Biden had accused Turkey of funding ISIS, to which Erdogan had angrily responded, “Biden has to apologise for his statements” adding that if no apology is made, Biden would become “history to me.” Biden subsequently apologised. (Reference: The October 6, 2014 report of the CNN).

Nationwide protests against the perceived authoritarianism of Erdogan’s government were hence witnessed in May 2013, with the internationally-slated police crackdown that had resulted in 22 deaths and the stalling of EU membership negotiations. (Reference: The May 31, 2013 edition of The Guardian).

Then a $100 billion government corruption scam had led to the arrests of Erdogan’s close allies in the government. They were alleged of bribery, corruption, fraud, money-laundering and gold smuggling etc.

President Erdogan was out on a foreign tour of Pakistan when the scandal broke.

According to the Deutsche Welle, the Associated Press of America and eminent British news agency “Reuters,” the case was being closely watched in Turkey. US prosecutors said the key suspect in this scam had “close ties” to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

US prosecutors alleged that the prime suspect in this scandal had used his wealth and influence to buy access to corrupt politicians in Turkey and halt investigations against him.

Erdogan was also accused of orchestrating an electoral fraud and when he was criticised on social media, he had blocked the public access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube on numerous occasions.

In February 2015, a 13-year-old child was arrested after allegedly criticising Erdogan on Facebook. (References: The Huffington Post and the Reuters etc).

A 2009 report issued by the Israeli Ministry had accused Erdogan for his anti-Jewish views.

During the June 2015 Turkish elections campaign, Erdogan had accused the New York Times of being represented by “Jewish capital.” (Reference: The June 6, 2015 edition of the Jerusalem Post and another leader Israeli newspaper “The Haartez)”.

In April 2014, the president of the Turkish Constitutional Court had accused Erdogan of damaging the credibility of the judiciary, labelling his attempts to increase political control over the courts as ‘desperate.” (Reference: The April 25, 2014 edition of the Financial Times).

In February 2016, prosecutors in Bologna (Italy) had launched a money laundering investigation against the 35-year old Bilal Erdogan, the son of the Turkish president. The probe was based on accusations put forward by an exiled political opponent of Tayyip Erdogan.

The Bologna prosecutors’ office had confirmed to various media outlets that the probe had been launched into the activities of Bilal, the third child of the Turkish president.

Turkish businessman Murat Hakan Huzan, a political opponent of President Tayyip Erdogan living in exile in France, had filed a complaint against the Turkish president’s son in September 2015. Erdogan’s son was blamed for smuggling into Italy a large amount of money allegedly gained through illegal economic activities. (References: The February 17, 2016 editions of The Telegraph and the Independent).

Bilal Erdogan had actually found himself in the middle of two media scandals in Italy. The first was when his armed bodyguards were reportedly denied entry to the country. They were swiftly given Turkish diplomatic passports to enable them to proceed with their duties.

Another scandal took place in December 2015, when offensive “Erdogan terrorist” inscriptions had appeared on the walls of several buildings at Johns Hopkins University, where Erdogan’s son was studying. Bilal was forced to file a defamation lawsuit. (Reference: AMC, an American basic cable and satellite television channel).

In February 2014, a firestorm had sparked in Turkey when audio recordings, in which President Erdogan was reportedly heard telling his son Bilal to get rid of tens of millions of dollars, were posted on YouTube. The president has described the recordings as a “vile montage,” according to the AFP, though he acknowledged that his telephone had been tapped.

A file containing five audio recordings of conversations between Erdogan and his son from a 26-hour period beginning December 17, 2013, in which he appeared to be instructing his son to conceal very large amounts of money, was posted to YouTube and widely discussed on social media. (Reference: A Washington DC-based news website Al-Monitor).