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Turkey’s Atatürk Forest
Farm land sold to pro-government religious sect Menzil

555 thousand square meters
of Atatürk Forest Farm land has been sold to the Medipol International Health
Center affiliated to the Menzil religious sect known for its strong ties to the
ruling AKP

A 555 thousand square-meter public land
from the Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ) has been handed over to TEBA Foundation, the
founder association of Medipol International Health Center known for its strong
affiliation with the Menzil network, a Naqshbandi religious sect promoted under
the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) especially after the failed coup
in 2016.

Speaking about the sale of the public land
in Ankara to the Medipol Group, Tezcan Karakuş Candan, the President of the
Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) Ankara Branch,
said: “We are completely experiencing a period of pillage. They are going
to destroy the Ankara Rail Terminal Complex, which is the gateway to the
Republic, by handing it over to the Medipol International Health Center.”

“Similarly, they will give 555
thousand square meters of AOÇ land, which is 3 km away from Bilkent City
Hospital in Ankara, designated as the afforestation area, to the TEBA
Foundation, the founder association of Medipol, or the Turkish Minister of
Health”, Karakuş added.


Stating that the AOÇ is the spatial value
of the Republic, Karakuş also noted, “In this area, there is the Logistics
Unit of the Air Force Command. First, they [authorities] said that they would
build a stadium in this area. Then, they canceled the stadium project and
declared it an urban transformation area. We filed a lawsuit against these

“Yet, they surprisingly canceled the
decision of urban transformation project once again. While it was the
first-grade natural protected area, they changed its grade and made it a
sustainable controlled area of utilization,” she continued.

Karakuş stated that the authorities made
this site a private university area by changing the plans at the end of 2018,
and they handed it over to TEBA Foundation, in other words, to the Medipol
International Health Center.

“Atatürk Forest Farm is the spatial
expression of the founding values of the Republic entrusted by the founder of
this country, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, to his people with its own core values and

“The mindset looting the Atatürk
Forest Farm plunders the Republic”, Karakuş concluded.

The Menzil religious sect, which has
strong ties to Medipol Group, is also known to lead the Ministry of Health in

With the recent development, the sect has
seized an important part of the Atatürk Forest Farm lands.


In August 2017, 37 thousand square meters
of Atatürk Forest Farm land was sold to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara for the
construction of a new embassy building.

AOÇ is a first-degree protected natural
site and one of the early symbolic public spaces of the Republic of Turkey,
dating back to 1920s. A significant part of AOÇ had already been destroyed with
the construction of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s presidential palace, Ankara’s former
Mayor Melih Gökçek’s extravagant amusement park project ‘Ankapark’, and Ankara
boulevard running through the forest.

In 2014, 50 acres of AOÇ had been
destroyed for the construction of a new presidential complex for the Turkish
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan despite several court decisions for the
termination of construction. Hence the palace is notoriously called “Kaçak
Saray” in Turkish, meaning an “illegal palace”.


Following the Turkish government’s
attempts to purge the Gülen community from the state cadres especially after
the failed July 15 coup in 2016, the ruling AKP has been in a serious effort to
replace the official institutional positions with other religious sects close
to the government. Many reports indicate that various cults and religious
groups, including the Menzil movement, have become much stronger since the coup
attempt in 2016.

Mahmut Tanal, İstanbul deputy from the
parliamentary main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), had claimed in
2017 that the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice and especially the
Ministry of Health in Turkey have been in the hands of the Menzil religious

Stating that the members of the police
department got references from the Menzil movement to be promoted, Tanal had
said that the state cannot be governed by this kind of religious sects,
preventing equality and state of law.

Last week, the so-called ‘Sheikh’ of the
Menzil sect had inspected a hospital he built in Istanbul with his followers
and doctors groveling to him. 

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