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I had nothing to do with July coup in Turkey

By Fethullah Gulen | August 18th 2016 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

On the night of July 15, Turkey went through the most catastrophic tragedy in its recent history as a result of the attempted military coup. The events of that night could be called a serious terror coup.

Twenty minutes after the military coup attempt surfaced, before the real actors were known, President Erdogan hastily blamed me. As someone who has suffered through four coups in the last 50 years, it is especially insulting to be associated with a coup attempt. I categorically reject such accusations.

I have been living a reclusive life in self-exile in a small town in the United States for the last 17 years. The assertion that I convinced the eighth largest army in the world – from 6,000 miles away – to act against its own government is not only baseless, it is false, and has not resonated throughout the world.

If there are any officers among the coup plotters who consider themselves as a sympathiser of Hizmet movement, in my opinion those people committed treason. They also violated the values that I have cherished throughout my life, and caused hundreds of thousands of innocent people to suffer under the government's oppressive treatment.

No one is above the rule of law, myself included. I would like for those who are responsible for this coup attempt, regardless of their identities, to receive the punishment they deserve if found guilty in a fair trial. The Turkish Judiciary has been politicised and controlled by the government and the possibility of a fair trial is very small.

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Hizmet movement participants have not been involved in one single violent incident throughout its 50-year history. The movement participants have complied with the law, opposed injustices through legitimate means and only defended their rights within the legal framework.

Turkey's legal and law enforcement agencies have been mobilised for the last three years to investigate and reveal an alleged "parallel state" that they claim that I run.

Turkey's prime minister called an opportunity to meet with me "heaven-sent" in May 2013; however, after the public corruption probe emerged in December 2013, he began using hate language such as "assassins" and "blood-sucking vampires" when referring to Hizmet movement participants.

After the treasonous coup attempt of July 15, the attacks have become unbearable. Turkish government officials also began referring to me and people sympathetic to my views as a "virus" and "cancer cells that need to be wiped out." Hundreds of thousands of people that have supported institutions and organizations affiliated with the Hizmet movement have been dehumanised in one way or another in a clear case of witch hunt.

I've witnessed every single military coup in Turkey and, like many other Turkish citizens, have suffered during and after each one. I was imprisoned by the order of the junta administration after the March 12, 1971 coup. After the coup of September 12, 1980, a detention warrant was issued against me and I lived as a fugitive for six years.

Right after the February 28, 1997, post-modern military coup, a lawsuit asking for capital punishment was filed against me with the charge of "an unarmed terrorist organization consisting of one person." During all of these oppressive, military-dominated administrations, I was cleared of the charges.

I now face the very same accusations projected in an even more unlawful manner by a civilian autocratic regime. A significant portion of Turkish citizens have been made to believe – through relentless pro-government propaganda – that I am the actor behind the July 15 coup.

Of course, what matters is not majority opinion but the truths that will emerge through the process of a fair trial. Tens of thousands of people, including myself, who have been the target of such gross accusations, would like to clear our names through a fair judicial process.

We do not want to live with this suspicion that was cast on us. Unfortunately, the government has exerted political control over the Judiciary since 2014, thereby destroying the opportunity for Hizmet sympathizers to clear their names of these accusations.

I openly call on the Turkish government to allow for an international commission to investigate the coup attempt, and promise my full cooperation in this matter. If the commission finds one-tenth of the accusations against me to be justified, I am ready to return to Turkey and receive the harshest punishment.

The most important characteristic of the Hizmet movement is to not to seek political power, but instead to seek long-term solutions for the problems threatening the future of their societies. Since I have always believed that the biggest problems facing these societies are ignorance, intolerance-driven conflicts and poverty, I have always encouraged those who would listen to build schools instead of mosques or Quaran tutoring centers.

This is the reason Hizmet participants are active in education, health care and humanitarian aid not only in Turkey, but also in more than 160 countries around the world. The most significant characteristic of these activities is that they serve people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds – not just Muslims.


Turkey coup President Recep Tayyip Erdogan military activity
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