On the 15th of July we are marking the third anniversary of the hideous coup attempt by the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO), staged in Turkey three years ago on 15 July, 2016. As is known, this bloody attempt was thwarted by the bravery and sacrifice of the Turkish people. As the painful memories of the fateful night is still fresh on the minds of the Turkish people, the putschists mercilessly used lethal military hardware against innocent civilians, who took to the streets to defend their democratic institutions, claiming the lives of 251 innocent Turkish citizens and wounding more than 2,500 people.
As three years elapsed since this ominous event took place, the Turkish Government and the Turkish people made a long way in overcoming the trauma posed by this existential threat. In this context, the focus of the Turkish Government has rested basically on two things, namely, the diagnosing the reasons for the presence of FETO elements within the security and civilian structures of the state and rehabilitating the state apparatus from these terrorist elements.
Fortunately, Turkey, under the wise leadership of H.E. President Erdoğan, has managed to overcome the trauma created by FETO. Three years on, our fight against FETO-member coup plotters has not weakened our security forces and civilian bureaucracy, on the contrary, the Turkish Armed Forces, National Police and state apparatus in general have grown stronger as they have been cleared of FETO-member traitors.
The Turkish government in parallel with its fight with FETO as well as all sorts of terrorism at home is committed to further strengthen the bases of democracy in Turkey. We are determined to fight such enemies of democracy through democracy. Hence, the Turkish people and the government, having paid a dear price for the sublime values of democracy, now legitimately expect the cooperation of the international community and our allies with regard to the extradition of the FETO criminals.
During the last three years, criminal activities of FETO have been investigated in hundreds of different court cases, bringing to surface the darker undertakings of the organisation. Confronting such a dark, sinister and clandestine structure is not easy. The Turkish government rightfully took and continues to take necessary and proportionate measures to supress and eventually defeat this imminent threat.
Within this framework, the fight against FETO both inside and outside Turkey has constituted one of the main priorities of the Turkish Government. Within Turkey, our efforts are being conducted under three pillars:
- Firstly, on the basis of the rule of law, the perpetrators of the 15th of July coup attempt have been brought to justice.
- b) FETO’s organizational structure within governmental institutions has been unveiled; administrative and judicial procedures have been initiated against its members and hence the “parallel state structure” has been brought down.
- c) Apart from those within the governmental institutions, FETO’s attempts to spread across all areas of the economy via its shell entities, particularly in the education, media and banking sectors, have been thwarted.
Despite facing extraordinary security challenges, we have been able to successfully conduct our fight at home in compliance with the principles of the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms. We have also expended efforts to avoid grievances and established new mechanisms to examine and settle alleged grievances.
As these developments took place, FETO has undergone a significant transformation. The organization, which lost its backbone in Turkey, is now trying to survive by making use of its structure abroad. Thus, fighting against the structures of FETO abroad has gained significance.
Most importantly, the international community is gradually understanding that FETO is not a social movement that engages with education and charity, contrary to the way it tries to portray itself, but rather a dark and insidious organization with political and economic ambitions. A clear awareness regarding the characteristics of the organization has developed among public opinions abroad.
Various countries and international organizations have declared FETO as a terrorist organization. In this context, FETO was declared as a terrorist organization in the 43rd session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC held on 19 October 2016; a similar resolution was written at the Asian Parliamentary Assembly on 1 December 2016 and ratified at the 12th Conference of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC on 27 January 2017. In addition to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared FETO a terrorist organization with the verdict rendered on 28 December 2018.
The awareness raised regarding FETO in third countries has also stimulated closer monitoring and investigation of the activities related to these elements by the officials of the aforementioned countries. Unlawful acts carried out by FETO-affiliated organizations have thus been revealed in various countries. The members of the organization have been deported accordingly. In addition to those deported to third countries, more than one hundred and ten FETO members from over twenty countries have been extradited to Turkey.
In most of the countries where the FETO schools had been operating, the schools were handed over to Maarif Foundation of Turkey. FETO’s presence in some other countries were diminished to a minimum level since the relevant Turkish authorities keep their close contacts with their counterparts to take over the remaining FETO schools. The Turkish Maarif Foundation (TMF) has taken over FETO affiliated schools in eighteen countries. The activities of FETO affiliated schools and language courses have been terminated in thirty-six countries.
In spite of the Turkish Government’s and the Turkish people’s all-out fight against FETO, it still avails itself of every opportunity to abuse the democracies to operate in many countries under the disguise of schools, businesses, NGOs and media houses throughout the world. Their modus operandi is the same all around the world. As they aim to infiltrate and enlarge their global economic and political influence, they constitute a direct security threat for any country where they operate.
Written by H.E. Ismail Sefa Yuceer, Turkish Ambassador in Banjul