Pro-Erdoğan NGOs Publish “Declaration of Solidarity with Democracy in Turkey”

A group of NGOs under the title “Group of Albanian Civil Society Organizations in Solidarity with Democracy in Turkey,” has today published large advertisements in several major Albanian newspapers commemorating the failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last year.


According to half-page advertisement:

We as Civil Society Organizations in Albania again forcefully denounce the coup attempt that Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) organized on July 15, 2016 in Turkey, an ally and strategic partner of Albania. We stress that FETÖ, which undertook this vile attempt to overthrow the constitutional democratic order by using arms and violence, is a threat for any country it resides. We as Civil Society Organizations underline that we are close to Turkey and the Turkish people as regards the elimination of this terrorist organization in every corner of the world, including Albania.

Although the organizations do not mention themselves by name, the group seems to have formed in August 2016 in the aftermath of the failed coup. According to Turkish news agency Anadolu, the group of NGOs includes Muslim Forum of Albania, which represents the Albanian Muslim community, as well as the Çamëria Society, Green Crescent Albania, and the League of Imams, among others.

The advertisement is the most public attempt so far of the Turkish government to influence the Albanian government and public opinion in its battle against the Gülen Movement led by former ally of Turkish President Erdoğan and Islamic scholar in exile Fethullah Gülen, which is thought to operate several madrassas (religious schools) and educational institutions in the country.

In April, Turkish ambassador Hidayet Bayraktar called upon the Albanian government to take actions against these schools, which are protected by the Albanian Constitution. Already in November 2016 the Ministry of Education issued a directive banning the usage of Turkish national symbols and Turkish names on these same schools, again in apparent violation of Albanian laws on the freedom of expression. Nevertheless, FETÖ is not officially classified by Albania as a terror organization, nor has any proof been presented to the Albanian public that these educational institutions indeed “support terrorism.”

Several international human rights organizations have denounced the crackdown on public intellectuals, the press, and opposition politicians in Turkey in the aftermath of the failed coup. According to Human Rights Watch, “the crackdown that followed the coup attempt was symptomatic of the government’s increasing authoritarianism.”

Over 100,000 public officials and civil servants have been dismissed or suspended. These include around 28,000 teachers alleged to be Gülen supporters and labelled by the government to be part of a terrorist organization.

Many detainees—including teachers, police, public officials—are placed in pretrial detention despite a lack of evidence of criminal wrong-doing or compelling grounds for custody. At least 2,200 judges and prosecutors were jailed pending investigation, reportedly because their names appeared on a list of alleged Gülen supporters. With 3,400 permanently dismissed for the same reason, their assets frozen, over one-fifth of Turkey’s judiciary has been removed. Around 11,000 teachers in the southeast who were mainly members of the left-leaning Eğitim Sen trade union were also suspended.