10th October 2016,
Impact Hub Westminster at New Zealand House
This Centre for Turkey Studies roundtable was chaired by Dr Janroj Keles of Middlesex University and featured Mr Mehmet Emin Ekmen, former MP for the Justice and Development (AK) Party. The discussion was translated by George Dyson.
Mr Ekmen offered a three-stage discussion of the events. His first, and a major theme of his talk, was the involvement of exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen and his movement in the coup. He gave a background of the rise of Gulen’s movement and its nature as an explicitly religious organisation, and described how in his view it collaborated, though never explicitly allied, with President Erdogan’s AKP as two religious organisations which both struggled to achieve legitimacy in a secular culture. Mr Ekmen proceeded to state that the Gulen movement exercised a disproportionate amount of influence in the judiciary in particular, but also across the rest of the civil service.
With this as a background, Mr Ekmen proceeded to the second part of his discussion, analysing the fallout of the coup. He said that the large number of arrests made have been on either those directly implicated with the coup and Gulen, or caught in compromising positions on the night of the coup – such as civil service computer technicians found near sensitive infrastructure.
In the last portion of his speech, Mr Ekmen proceeded to denounce the Gulen movement for its part in damaging the Kurdish peace process. He alleged that the Gulenists used all means at their disposal to halt negotiations, and accused them of hypocrisy for their alleged support of minority rights overseas but not at home. However he had little time for the PKK either, and emphasised his belief that only a peaceful, democratic discussion conducted through the HDP could solve the Kurdish issue; and so long as the PKK continued to organise terrorist attacks, and Kurdish mayors and educators were implicated of having connections with the organisation, this would go nowhere.
Mr Ekmen proceeded to field a number of questions in a discussion, including issues around the shifting meaning of ‘secularism’ in modern Turkey and the semantics of comparing the July coup with spring’s ‘palace coup’ and the more recent ‘trustee coup’.
CEFTUS would again like to thank Mr Mehmet Emin Ekmen for his speech, and also the many and varied guests who attended the event and contributed to making it a success.
Summarised by Jack Swan.
Mr Mehmet Emin Ekmen is a former Justice and Development Party (AKP) MP for Batman. He is currently founding member of Mesopotamia University which aims to provide fully Kurdish education. He was a member and secretary of the Wise People Commission for the Southeast Region on the Kurdish Peace Process. He studied law at Dicle University and he holds an MA in Public Law in Social Sciences Institute of the same university. He is currently a PhD candidate in Public Law at Istanbul University. Ekmen was a member of Batman Bar Board, and Chair of Human Rights Commission and Women and Children Rights Commission when he used to work as a lawyer. He was a Representative of TEMA Trust, Director of Batman Volunteers for Environment Association, Chair of Gunisigi Association Board, Batman Representative of Sports Federation for Everyone and lastly, a founding member of Batman Mazlum-Der Association. He has published reports and articles on issues such as democratisation, human rights, the Kurdish issue, terrorism and the FETO terrorist organisation. He is a legislative consultant for the Union of Turkish Public Notaries and a member of arbitration board of the Turkish Football Federation.