Khaled al-Misri Praises Erdogan’s State for Upholding Freedom and Democracy – Al Marsad

With a painting of Turkey’s secularist founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in the background, the Islamist head of the Tripoli-based consultative Higher Council of State, Khaled al-Mishri, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, participated in a memorial service organized by the Turkish Embassy in Tripoli to mark the third anniversary of the coup attempt against the administration of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Al-Mishri called the fight against the 2016 coup in Turkey similar to the fight against the Libyan National Army (LNA). 

[Libya, 16 July 2019] – The memorial service was also attended by two members of the Tripoli-based Presidential Council, namely Abdulsalam Kajman of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Mohammed Amari Zayed, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), along with members of the Turkish community who are loyal to Erdogan in Tripoli.

Khaled al-Mishri, Abdulsalam Kajman and Mohammed Amari Zayed at the Turkish Embassy in Tripoli’s memorial event to mark the 3rd year since the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

“On this day Turkey fought against the dictatorship and defended the democracy of the state, and it was a battle between the camp of good and evil,” said al-Mishri. In his speech he described the event that led the Turkish people to stop “the treacherous coup against democracy in 2016.”

Khaled al-Mishri, Abdulsalam Kajman and Mohammed Amari Zayed at the Turkish Embassy in Tripoli’s memorial event to mark the 3rd year since the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

Al-Mishri added that this battle is not only taking place in Istanbul, but is in fact a battle between democracy and dictatorship, which is repeated in Libya now since 4th of April, referring to the Libyan National Army (LNA), using the same tools, as he claimed.

Khaled al-Mishri, Abdulsalam Kajman and Mohammed Amari Zayed at the Turkish Embassy in Tripoli’s memorial event to mark the 3rd year since the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

“Those who were behind Fethullah Gülen and the coup leaders in Turkey are the same ones now behind the organization of terrorist dignity in Libya,” he said, referring to Turkish the religious opposition leader who is based in the United States.

Mishri Compares 2016 Coup to LNA Advance on Tripoli

Al-Mishri claimed that he knew very well who was supporting such organizations that were hostile to the regime of his ally Erdogan, describing them as terrorists. He said: “We are now also fighting the same battle in Tripoli and we promise our people freedom and victory and will burn the flame of freedom, despite the attempt to extinguish it. The nature of the similarities between the Turkish and Libyan coup experiments increased the understanding of the Turkish presidency on the situation in Libya.”

At the end of his speech al-Mishri congratulated the Turkish people for their success in eliminating the plot against them which he said was a crime.

Post-2016 Coup Facts

The Islamist narrative provided by Khaled al-Mishri on the coup of 2016 in Turkey was revealing by its omission of the gross violations of human rights and wholesale purges of opposition members by Erdogan. Under the pretext of the coup, the government of Erdogan initiative mass arrests of any one directly or remotely linked to the Gülen movement.

In July 2018 a two-year state of emergency imposed by Erdogan after the coup formally lapsed, but it was replaced with new counterterrorism legislation, approved by the Turkish parliament in August of that year. The legislation contained many measures similar to the extraordinary powers the authorities enjoyed under emergency rule. They included widening the already broad powers of appointing provincial governors to restrict assemblies and movement; executive authority for three years to dismiss public officials, including judges, by administrative decision; and increased police powers including custody periods extendable for up to 12 days.

Following advice by the Council of Europe in 2017, a commission which was established to review the dismissal of more than 130,000 public officials. Most were alleged to be associated with the Fethullah Gülen religious movement that the Erdogan accused of masterminding the coup attempt. The government deemed them as terrorists organisations. The commission had issued decisions in 36,000 cases, with 2,300 reinstated in their jobs or similar measures of redress, and at least another 88,660 appeals to review. Terrorism charges continued to be widely used by the government of Turkey.

Purge on a Biblical Scale

As of June 2019, 48,924 of the total prison population of 246,426, almost one-fifth, had been charged with or convicted of terrorism offences, according to Turkey’s Ministry of Justice. Those prosecuted and convicted included journalists, civil servants, teachers, and politicians, as well as police officers and military personnel. 

Of the 48,924, 34,241 were held for alleged Gülenist links, and 10,286 for alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and 1,270 for alleged links to the extremist Islamic State (ISIS) group. The lack of balance in the categorisation of the gravity of the groups involved in terrorism given that so few belonging to ISIS have been arrested, is revealing.

As many human rights organisations have pointed out many of the terrorism-related trials in Turkey lack compelling evidence of criminal activity or acts that would reasonably be deemed terrorist, and the practice of holding individuals charged with terrorist offences in prolonged pretrial detentions raised concerns. Its use has become a form of summary punishment, according to human rights activists in Turkey and abroad.

Trials have continued of military personnel and others for their alleged involvement in the July 2016 coup attempt in which 250 people died. As of June this year, 2,177 defendants were convicted and 1,552 acquitted at first instance, according to the Ministry of Justice. There were no finalized verdicts.

Journalists Targeted

Current available data shows that Turkey remains the world leader in jailing journalists. An estimated 175 journalists and media workers are in pretrial detention or currently serving sentences for terrorism offences. 

According to leading human rights organisations, Turkish media organisations lack independence and promote the government’s political line. During the year courts issued verdicts in several major politically motivated trials of journalists, based on evidence consisting of writing and reporting which does not advocate violence alongside unsupported allegations of connections with terrorist organizations or the coup attempt. Most cases are now at appeal.

In February, writers and commentators Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, and Nazlı Ilıcak were sentenced to life imprisonment without parole on coup charges. The trial of staff from Cumhuriyet newspaper, including journalists, executives, and the editor, ended in April. Fourteen were convicted on terrorism charges, and given sentences ranging from two to eight years, and three acquitted. 

Verdicts in trials on terrorism charges of 31 journalists and media workers from the well-respected Zaman newspaper concluded in July. Journalists working for Kurdish media in Turkey continued to be arrested and jailed repeatedly, obstructing critical reporting from the southeast of the country.

Leading media executives from Zaman newspaper were on trial

Human rights lawyers are among over 1,500 lawyers on trial on terrorism charges at time of writing. Their cases underscore the dramatic erosion of defendants’ rights and due process in Turkey. In September, an Istanbul court released on bail 17 lawyers who had spent up to a year in pretrial detention for membership of an armed leftist group, but reversed its own decision a day later, ordering the rearrest of 12 of them. At time of writing their case was ongoing.

Continued allegations of torture, ill-treatment, and cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment in police custody and prison and the lack of any meaningful investigation into them remained a deep concern and are well documented by human rights agencies. These issues were raised by the UN special rapporteur on torture in a February statement this year. The international community has rallied behind journalists and called on the Turkish government to release them and to stop pressurising media professionals. 

International campaign to free Turkish media professionals arrested by Erdogan’s government under the hashtag #FreeTurkeyMedia

The Turkish authorities continued to seek the extradition of alleged Gülen supporters, many of them teachers, from countries around the world. Without adhering to legal due process, security services in countries including Kosovo and Moldova cooperated with Turkish agents during the year to apprehend and transfer Turkish citizens to Turkey where they were detained and prosecuted.

An Unholy Islamist Alliance 

As the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and its Islamist militias continue to seek the help of pro-Islamist Turkey and Qatar, its impact will have deep repercussions for Tripoli and the country. Khaled al-Mishri and the GNA continue to be silent on the human rights violations and the anti-democratic and increasingly authoritarian posturing by Erdogan’s government. The constant supply of arms and equipment to UN-sanctioned Islamist groups by Turkey, together with continued supply of killer drones, and the assistant of Turkish military experts, as Al Marsad has recently exposed—all openly contravene the UN arms embargo.

Turkish meddling in Libyan political affairs and its partnership with beleaguered Islamist factions will undoubtedly create difficulties for Turkey and its future trade, business and investment hopes in Libya—particularly as the Libyan National Army (LNA) continues to make territorial gains. The belligerent posturing by Turkey over gas drilling in the Mediterranean waters in northern Cyprus which has triggered EU sanctions; the war of words and threat of sanctions by the US over the purchase of Russian S-400 missiles; and the open acknowledgment of illegal supplies of weapons and equipment to Islamist militias in Libya all indicate that the GNA is partnering with an increasingly rogue and dangerous Turkish state.

© Al Marsad English. 2019.

Further Resources

More Turkish-Made Drones Delivered to Misrata for the GNA

Bayraktar Killer Drones Run by Turkish Military Experts in Tripoli – EXCLUSIVE AL MARSAD REPORT

The Case of the Illegal Ukranian Flights from Turkey to Libya – SPECIAL REPORT