Millions of people spoke out through the Turkish Presidential Whistleblower Platform, targeting critics
Levent Kenez / Stockholm
The Turkish government on Sunday announced 2021 statistics for the Presidential Communication Center (CİMER), which received 97% of total online applications. According to official figures, 6.1 million people filed a claim with CİMER last year, half of whom filed complaints or denounced others. The PR center, which the government calls an opportunity for citizens to engage with the administration, has evolved into a platform for reporting critics and people whose lifestyles are frowned upon by the government. supporters of the ruling party. Complaints to consumer websites show that a significant proportion of inquiries made to CİMER concern citizens in economic difficulty.
According to the Presidential Directorate of Communications, which oversees the communications center, CİMER responded to 5.5 million requests out of 6.1 million, an increase of 4% over the previous year. Forty-five percent of the requests submitted to the center were requests, 40 percent were complaints, 8 percent concerned the right to information and 7 percent were acknowledgments, opinions / suggestions. The central organization received 55 percent of the requests, while the local governments received 45 percent. About 600,000 CİMER applications were thank you messages. According to the government, CİMER received many congratulatory messages following innovations in the defense industry, unveiling of prototypes of a domestically produced electric car, opening of Hagia Sophia for worship and the discovery of natural gas reserves in the Black Sea. However, no data was released regarding the requests for financial assistance or their content. Management says only those who wish to benefit from government incentives related to COVID applied in large numbers. Since a request to CİMER is made through a Turkish Republic ID number and a valid email account, citizens are unlikely to deliver messages critical of the government because they are worried that something is wrong with them. come.
The CİMER website has information on what to consider when reporting:
CİMER is known to the Turkish public as a platform where citizens who cannot get results from the authorities apply as a last resort. The increase in requests also indicates a decrease in trust in institutions. There is also the impression that more effective results will be obtained if the candidacy is forwarded by the presidency. He also confirms that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has become the sole decision-maker with the transition to a presidential system in 2018 and that the institutions affiliated with the presidency are getting stronger.
Applications for CİMER are increasing every year. According to figures compiled by Nordic Monitor, 3.1 million people applied in 2019 and 5.8 million in 2020, up from just 2.6 million in 2017. The government considers this increase a success, seeing it as more and more citizens coming into contact with the administration.
One of the phrases that has been included in the Turkish lexicon in recent years is “I will complain about you to CİMER”. This expression, which is frequently used, especially by opponents of the government, did not emerge without reason.
In a witch hunt against members of the Gülen movement, a group critical of the president, following a controversial coup attempt in 2016, many people were reported to CİMER as Gülenists. A significant number of victims claim that the only evidence against them were the notifications made to CİMER.
According to Turkish media, a general practitioner working in the emergency room of a public hospital in Sakarya, about whom numerous complaints have been lodged with CİMER, was expelled from public service in August 2021 on the grounds that he was a member of the Gülen movement. .
Not only members of the Gülen community, but also people with a secular lifestyle are reported to CIMER. A complaint has been filed with CİMER over the “unbecoming behavior of a teacher” by teacher Nazlı Merve Kılıç for tweeting pictures of her drinking last December. Kılıç was summoned to the Istanbul District Directorate of the Ministry of Education. Her husband, academic Özgün Emre Koç, confirmed on Twitter that she was called in for an interview because she had been drinking.
In September 2021, a transgender doctor, Larin Kayataş, announced on Twitter that a complaint had been lodged with CİMER against her by patients who believed that she was not fit to be a doctor and that he had her been banned from practicing medicine on grounds of “general morality”. . ”
In March 2021, a complaint was filed with CİMER against Kader Keskin, a student at the theological faculty of Ondokuz Mayıs University, for his articles on the Islamic faith. An investigation was immediately opened against him by the management of the faculty.
CİMER is not a very secure platform for those who submit reports believing that their identity will be kept confidential. The most common complaint from people who made reports to CİMER is the disclosure of their identity information. In particular, those who denounced members of the Gülen Movement say their names were included in the indictments. Media close to the government had reported that lawsuits had been brought by Gulenists against whistleblowers living abroad for defamation.
Nordic Monitor published correspondence last week from a computer expert who hacked the Twitter account of a 76-year-old government opponent and sent the account details, including the password, to CİMER.