Representatives of Belgian NGOs, intercultural dialogue centers, human right institutions, youth and women’s associations, local schools, culture houses and non-profit and volunteer organizations were indicted on dubious terrorism charges by a Turkish prosecutor, judicial documents obtained by Nordic Monitor have revealed.
According to the indictment submitted by public prosecutor Mehmet Ersin Berber to the Konya 9th High Criminal Court, critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Belgium and their organizations that were duly authorized and licensed under local law are described as terrorist entities in clear contradiction to the perspective of Belgian authorities.
The indictment, accepted by the court under file No. 2017/ 1474, accused representatives of non-profit and volunteer organizations in Belgium such as Fedactio (La Fédération des Associations Actives de Belgique), Beltud (Association d’Amitié Belgo-Turque), the Intercultural Dialogue Platform (IDP), women’s association Golden Rose, Foryouth, humanitarian aid organization Time to Help and local schools Lucerna and Ecole des Etoiles of attempting to undermine Turkey’s constitutional order.
These institutions are believed to be affiliated with the Gülen movement, a vocal critic of the Erdoğan regime for pervasive government corruption and Erdoğan’s arming and funding of jihadist groups in Syria and Libya. US-based Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen describes terrorism as “the foremost threat to human life” and condemns all kinds of extremist and radical acts.
Parts of the indictment defining non-profit and volunteer organizations in Belgium as terrorist entities:
Fedactio, founded in 2010, is a non-profit entity with a wide range of member organizations in Belgium. According to its website, it aims to promote dialogue between different communities regardless of their background and strengthen ties by organizing encounters and conducting projects in collaboration with its members and external partner institutions.
Beltud is one of the main organizers of the International Festival of Language and Culture (IFLC), an annual celebration of language diversity that showcases talent from across the globe. Intercultural dialogue is a central to Beltud’s activities, which all focus on fostering peaceful coexistence and social cohesion. The IDP is a Brussels-based non-profit civil society organization, aiming at mutual understanding and harmonious interaction among the people of different cultural backgrounds. IDP projects are funded by local authorities and the European Commission.
Time to Help, a humanitarian aid organization, was also listed as a terrorist organization. Time to Help has successfully completed major projects in a range of countries, including sinking wells, providing medical care for cataract sufferers and setting up food tents and bringing relief to people affected by disasters.
Nordic Monitor previously reported on official correspondence from the Turkish Foreign Ministry that revealed how Turkish embassies and consulates have become tools of spying in the hands of Turkey’s Islamist rulers. The correspondence included two CDs, the first of which contained information about the leading critics of the Erdoğan regime, while the second CD consisted of details of the structure of the Gülen movement in each country and a full list of people believed to be affiliated with the movement.
According to judicial documents released by the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court on January 16, 2019, the foreign ministry had compiled a long list of foreign entities that were owned and/or operated by people who are seen as close to the movement in 92 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania. The indictment, which includes information gathered by Turkish diplomatic missions and Turkish imams sent by the government, confirms once more how those intelligence activities triggered numerous criminal prosecutions on charges of terrorism in Turkey.
In Turkey, over half a million people affiliated with the Gülen movement have been put in detention facilities on similar charges in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 2016. Based on profiling lists, people were arrested, investigated and even prosecuted in Turkey. Their assets were seized, and family members and relatives were also the subject of criminal charges. Working as a teacher in Gülen-inspired schools or contributing to non-profit institutions affiliated with the movement abroad are considered to be acts of terrorism by the Erdoğan government.
Following the coup attempt, some European countries launched investigations into Turkish imams linked to Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), an ideological and political state apparatus tasked with spreading Erdoğan’s political Islamist ideology both inside and outside the country. In December 2016 Turkey had to recall Yusuf Acar, the religious affairs attaché at the Turkish Embassy in The Hague, after Dutch authorities accused him of gathering intelligence on the movement. Similarly, Belgian authorities rejected the visa applications of 12 Turkish imams seeking to work in the country in 2017.
Recently, the government of the central German state of Hessen ended its cooperation with the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Diyanet İşleri Türk İslam Birliği, or DITIB). “The doubts about the fundamental independence of DITIB from the Turkish government could not be resolved,” said Minister of Culture Alexander Lorz. DITIB, the German branch of the Diyanet and the religious arm of Erdoğan’s Islamist regime, controls imams sent by the Turkish government to European countries.
The indictment was submitted by public prosecutor Mehmet Ersin Berber to the Konya 9th High Criminal Court:Savci_Belgium
The Turkish president turned against the Gülen movement after major corruption investigations in December 2013 that incriminated Erdoğan, his family members and his business and political associates. The order to spy on Gülen-affiliated people and organizations came in early 2014, and volunteers of the movement were targeted with criminal prosecutions on fabricated charges of terrorism.
The crackdown on the movement intensified after the coup attempt. Since then, the assets and wealth of individuals, corporations and organizations that were seen as affiliated with the movement were branded as war spoils open to plunder. More than 130,000 civil servants have been dismissed by the government with no effective judicial or administrative investigation, 4,560 of whom were judges and prosecutors and were replaced by pro-Erdogan staff. As a result of the massive purge, the Turkish judiciary and law enforcement authorities have become tools in the hands of the Islamist government of President Erdoğan.