Instanbul tips Tanzania on ‘terrorist organisation’

FOLLOWING an assessment by the Turkish government over the failed coup attempt, the Turkish Ambassador to Tanzania, Ms Yasemin Eralp, has said that there is every indication that those behind the coup belong to an organization, which operates in many countries, including Tanzania.

She asked the government of Tanzania to scrutinise and keep an eye on the organisation, insisting that it is carrying out dangerous activities in the country. Ms Eralp was briefing the media on the situation in Turkey after the July 15 military coup attempt, which illegally aimed at overthrowing the democratically elected Turkish government.

She said the failed coup attempt was carried out by a cowardly terrorist group. She added that it was understood in a short time that the action was more than a treacherous plot. She said it was a terrorist campaign since the perpetrators shot at their own people, stabbed commanders in the back and bombed the national parliament as well as the office of the president.

Last week, international media reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused a US-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, of plotting the overthrow of the democratically elected government. Mr Gulen has been living in self-imposed exile in rural Pennsylvania in the US since 1999.

President Erdogan has repeatedly accused Mr Gulen of trying to foment an uprising in the military, media and judiciary. Fethullah Gulen's organisation runs various activities across the world. There are more than 100 primary, middle and secondary schools in Africa that belong to Gulen.

Yesterday, Ms Eralp told the ‘Daily News on Saturday’ that she had a meeting with Chief Secretary (CS), Ambassador John Kijazi, on Thursday regarding the organisation’s activities in the country. “I visited the CS yesterday. I told him about the organisation and the situation in Turkey.

Generally, the government of Tanzania is with us,” she said. She added: “I asked the government of Tanzania to make a serious follow up to that particular organisation in the country. I am sure Tanzania officials are aware of the organisation’s activities.”

Ms Eralp asked the government to track down the organisation’s financial transactions and always investigate its movements. On Tuesday, the Turkish community living in the country gathered at the Turkish Embassy in Tanzania to condemn the failed coup attempt.

They called on the government of Tanzania to close down all schools and other activities, which are linked to the organisation, that is accused of masterminding the coup plot in Turkey. On the state of security in Turkey, the ambassador assured Tanzanians that the country is safe and that everything is under control.

“The coup attempt has been foiled and everything is going on like before. I would like to use this opportunity to assure travellers that everything is under control and Turkey is safe,” she said. She said more than 10,000 people were detained and 4,000 arrested in connection with the July 15 attempted coup. She said among the detained and arrested are judges, police officers, military personnel and prosecutors.

According to Ms Eralp, all legal procedures and principles of human rights will be observed during the prosecution of the suspects. She said those who will be found guilty will be punished according to the existing Turkish laws.

On the three months state of emergency, Ms Eralp said the decision is in line with requirement of the constitution. “State of emergency has been declared. The decision involves the Security Council, government and it is ratified by the parliament, therefore it was necessary to declare the state of emergency,” she said.

However, the Ambassador said the declaration does not stop foreigners or Turkish people from continuing with normal activities including doing businesses. “Turkish airline is continuing with its schedule from Dar es Salaam to Istanbul as usual, therefore there is no restriction, there is no problem at all,” said Ms Eralp. On the US support, Ms Eralp said the two countries are progressing with talks on the extradition of Mr Gulan, who is accused of plotting the failed attempt coup.

“Extradition is a process, so Turkey is following legal procedures,” she said. She added that the US has so far shown support to Turkey and that it has expressed its readiness to assist in interrogating the suspects.

On the war against terrorism, the ambassador said Turkey is a strong country and that the failed coup will never weaken its war against terrorism. “Turkey has been fighting the Partiya Karkeren Kurdistane (PKK) and the jihadist group Islamic State (IS), therefore Turkey’s government will not stop this war against terrorist groups,” she said.

Tanzania authorities could not be reached immediately to comment on the Turkish ambassador’s plea on investigating the Turkish’s based organisation.

When we tried to get a comment from the Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Commissioner of Police, Diwani Athuman, he asked for an excuse saying he was in the middle of a sensitive meeting. Police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Advera Bulimba, could not be reached as her mobile phone was switched off.