by Andrew Walden
Hawai’i Free Press readers first learned about the Turkish Gulen Cult January 13 when this news site exposed the Gulenists' involvement in a so-far unsuccessful effort to surreptitiously convert Kaneohe's on-base Mokapu Elementary into a Gulen-controlled charter school.
On February 20, Il Sole 24 Ore—Italy’s Wall Street Journal—reported that the Gulen movement’s 120 charter schools and education consulting companies are now under investigation by the FBI and the US Department of Education for “illegal use of these education funds, a criminal conspiracy, extortion, and violation of immigration laws.”
Naturally this leads to the Hawaii State Legislature.
The Gulen scheme is designed to launder money back to the Gulen movement in Turkey through fat juicy “consulting” contracts with Gulen front companies and salary kickbacks paid back to the Gulen movement by Gulen teachers brought in on H1-B visas from Turkey.
In the Mokapu STEM School proposal, the Gulen “consultant” is “Daisy Education Corporation dba ‘Sonoran Science Academy’”.
Just three weeks after Hawai’i Free Press exposed the Mokapu scam, the Gulenists switched front groups. They convinced twelve Hawaii State Representatives to introduce HR30 and the nearly identical HCR37 purportedly “Recognizing and Improving relations with the Republic of Turkey.” The actual purpose of HR30—modeled after a nearly identical resolution pending in the Oregon Legislature--is to give credibility to two California-based Gulen front groups, the “Pacifica Institute” and the “West America Turkic Council” both of which are mentioned in the Resolution. There may be as few as three Gulenists in all of Hawaii, but they leverage the cult’s mainland resources to appear more substantial than they are.
Taking a page from the Rod Tam playbook, Pacifica on January 20th hosted what the Resolution describes as “The First Annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner to promote peace and a better understanding of the Hawaii Turkish-American community.” According to a flyer for the event, Sen. J Kalani English was there “to assess the potential of the Institute’s further involvement in Hawaii.” The featured speaker was Father Alexi Smith, an interfaith leader from the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy who is now affiliated with the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese.
Gulenists have been working the Legislature at least since November. Altunkaya and California-based Pacifica Institute boss Tezcan Inanlar were photographed meeting with Senator Mike Gabbard last November 8. Gabbard again posed for pictures with Pacifica Institute leaders Ibrahim Barlas and Tezcan Inanlar and Dr. Ozkur Yildiz, President of the West America Turkic Council as they made the rounds on Opening Day.
In addition to being President of the Turkic Council, Yildiz is listed in Arizona State documents as a “grant contact” for “Daisy Education Corporation dba Sonoran Science Academy”—the very same Gulen “consultants” to which Mokapu funds would be funneled if the Gulenists are successful in converting Mokapu into a Charter School. In a Sonoran Science Academy newsletter, Yildiz is described as “District Superintendent.”
Although the schools deny Gulen ties, the Arizona Daily Star, April 25, 2010 reports: “(Turkish Islamic leader Fethullah) Gülen himself, a powerful political force in Turkey, claimed responsibility for U.S. schools in a 2007 lawsuit against the Homeland Security Department as part of his effort to gain permanent residence. His argument in that lawsuit was that he was a person of exceptional ability in the field of education. Among Gülen's accomplishments, his attorneys argued, were that he ‘has overseen the establishment of a conglomeration of schools throughout the world, in Europe, Central Asia, and the United States.’"
The Arizona Daily Star, also reports that Sonoran has brought in 120 H1B Visa teachers from Turkey.
Il Sole 24 Ore reports:
An analysis of work permits for teachers reveals that between just 2007 and 2009, the "Gulen" schools requested and were granted 1,851 visas in three years, more than some major American corporations such as Motorola and Google….each teacher "imported" from Turkey would be required to return a percentage of their salary to the movement.
The region including Ohio was to be entrusted to a Turkish imam named Veli Aslan, better known as ‘brother Veli.’ An email sent in June 2008 with regard to teachers who were late in making the paybacks reads: "Brother Veli wants to have all the “salary returns." And he says to withhold future salaries from those who have not made them."
More incriminating still is an email dated June 13, 2007 and sent to the principal of a school in Ohio and copied to the CEO of Concept Schools, a board member of Breeze, and the Executive Director of the Niagara Foundation, a foundation personally headed by Fethullah Gulen. The email recommends "increasing the number of teachers from Turkey ... to acquire more money."
Federal investigators believe that proves the involvement of all the various branches of Hizmet - schools, service organizations, and the most important Gulenist foundation in the U.S. - in what they call "the Tuzuk conspiracy", namely the illegal financing of the movement at the expense of taxpayers.
A two page Tuzuk contract spells out precisely how much is to be kicked back to “The Movement.” For instance an unmarried teacher living in Hawaii--"Region E"--is allowed to keep only $1900 per month in salary.
What could the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) have to look forward to if Gulen gets a foothold in Hawaii?
Chicago Math and Science Academy teachers, upset by high staff turnover driven by the drive to import more Gulenist teachers from Turkey, signed cards calling for union recognition. The Gulenists fired the leading organizer, stonewalled the union, and and hired expensive union busting law firm Sayfarth Shaw to beat it back. Of course having a union might prevent the pushing out of non-Gulen teachers every time replacements arrive from Turkey with freshly signed Tuzuk contracts.
The Democratic Socialists of America-allied newspaper, In These Times, August 9, 2010 calls it “Ugly Unionbusting”.
And how do the Gulenists justify it? Here’s a line from the Chicago Tribune February 22, 2011 which should strike fear into the hearts of even the most steel-nerved HSTA honchos:
A Chicago charter school that has received more than $23 million in public money since opening in 2004 is arguing that it is a private institution, a move teachers say is designed to block them from forming a union.
In papers filed with the National Labor Relations Board, attorneys for the Chicago Math and Science Academy on the city's North Side say the school should be exempt from an Illinois law that grants employees of all public schools the right to form unions for contract negotiations.
The CPUSA’s People’s World February 14, 2011 describes the union’s reaction:
If Sulejman Dizdarevic were peeking out the window of his swanky law offices on Feb. 11, he surely would have been startled. There staring at him from the opposite side of the street, with bulging eyes, long nose and whiskers, chomping on a cigar and holding sacks of cash, was a giant, ugly rat.
The inflatable rat was erected by supporters of teachers at Chicago Mathematics and Science Academy in front of Dizdarevic's office, because he sits on the board of directors of the charter school that they accuse of subverting teacher's rights to form a union and violating Illinois labor law by refusing to negotiate a contract. Dizdarevic is an attorney at Belongia, Shapiro and Franklin.
CMSA is part of Concept Schools, a charter chain with schools across the Midwest.
Concept Schools is one of the two Gulen front companies identified by Il Sole 24 Ore in connection with efforts to "increas(e) the number of teachers from Turkey ... to acquire more money."
The writer for In These Times points out that “Concept Schools bring in teachers from Turkey, Russia and other European countries…. Currently about 25% of the faculty are international teachers…. When I went to the school’s Board meeting July 8, I was taken aback to see a board of directors comprised entirely of men. They all appeared to be of Turkish, Bosnian, or Croatian descent.”
Do Hawaii Legislators really want to have to explain to the HSTA why they invited “ugly union busters” into Hawaii? Don’t they know who they work for?
Interim DBEDT Director Richard Lim sent testimony in favor of HR30/HCR37.
How will Governor Abercrombie explain this to his comrades at the next DSA caucus meeting that he happens to pop into even though he swears he is not a member? What will Nancie Caraway say to her old comrades on the DSA National Feminist Commission?
In addition to financial goals, the charter schools are used to spread Gulenist ideology. Tucson Weekly, December 31, 2009 explains:
…several Sonoran Academy parents believe the school has a hidden agenda to promote Gülen's brand of Turkish nationalism, advance sympathy for that country's political goals such as winning acceptance into the European Union, and discourage official acknowledgement of Turkey's genocide against the Armenians during World War I.
"We found one document, in Turkish, that talks about the purpose of these charter schools," says the parent. "They refer to them very explicitly as schools (belonging) to their movement. They're calculating, and they say if they can have something like 600 schools, then every year, they can produce 120,000 sympathizers for Turkey.
"I sent my kids to this school because I wanted them to meet regular Muslims and to see them as ordinary people," she says. "But when I find that my kids are to be turned into genocide-deniers, that's very disturbing to me."
And, just as predicted, testifying in support of HR30 Pacifica Institute’s Tezcan Inanlar slyly denies the 1915-23 Armenian genocide, writing: “Turkey is a … country in which Turks, Kurds, Bosnians, Circassians, Armenians, Araps, (sic) Alevis, and Sunnis live (sic) together in peace for centuries.” This is similar to writing: “Germany is a country in which Jews have lived in peace for centuries.”
HR30 purports that Turkey “cherish(es) the universal values of freedom, democracy, and human rights…as well as a tolerance of others regarding secular and religious issues….”
The New York Times March 3 article, "7 More Journalists Detained in Turkey", gives a different view of life in Turkey under the Gulen-allied AK Party government:
The police raided the homes and offices of 11 people in Ankara and Istanbul. Among those detained were Nedim Sener, an investigative journalist for the newspaper Milliyet; Yalcin Kucuk, a writer who is a prominent critic of the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party); and Ahmet Sik, a journalist and academic who alleges that an Islamic movement associated with Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish-born cleric living in the United States, has infiltrated the country’s security forces.
Mr. Sener and Mr. Sik were defiant as police officers took them into custody at their homes before television cameras. “Whoever touches it gets burned!” Mr. Sik shouted, referring to the Gulen movement. Mr. Sener’s neighbors decorated his Istanbul building with Turkish flags to protest his detention.
Four journalists with an anti-government Web site, OdaTV, were also detained. A few weeks ago, the authorities raided the Web site’s offices and arrested the site’s owner, its news editor and a writer.
After government forces rounded up opponents in mid-2009, Soner Çağaptay in Foreign Policy magazine wrote:
Although some of the people interrogated and arrested might have been involved in criminal wrongdoing, most appear to be innocent. Take, for instance, Turkan Saylan, a 73-year-old grandmother who was undergoing chemotherapy. Saylan ran an NGO providing liberal arts education scholarships to poor girls in eastern Turkey, an area where Gülen's network runs many competing organizations. She was interrogated by the Turkish police for allegedly plotting a coup from her death bed, and passed away only four weeks later.
Many others have languished in jail, or even died, without seeing an indictment. The Gülen-controlled parts of the judiciary and police have also wielded illegal wiretaps against those entangled in the Ergenekon case, leaking intimate details of their private lives, such as marital infidelity, to pro-AKP and pro-Gülen media in order to damage their reputations.
The chilling reply comes right from Fethulla Gulen’s own website:
Çağaptay portrays Türkan Saylan as just a grandmother; he never mentions that she could not explain a document discovered on her computer mentioning encouraging girls to make every sacrifice needed to become close to young officers. Several other original documents that were filed by the prosecutors also show similar activities.
That’s “freedom, democracy, and human rights” Gulen-style. Now coming to Hawaii.
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