Until recently, Haci Boydak was a popular man. The 56-year-old operated several dozen companies, including Istikbal and Boytas, two Turkish competitors to IKEA. Politicians used to ask him for advice and his hometown of Kayseri in central Anatolia even named a football stadium after him.
But that chapter has now come to a close. If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gets his way, all references to Boydak in the country are to vanish. Last spring, police arrested the businessman along with two other senior executives from the family’s holding company and locked them up in a prison near Ankara. Boydak’s assets were confiscated and his companies were placed in receivership. Even Boydak Arena in Kayseri got a new name.
Erdogan suspects Boydak of having supported the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who the Turkish president blames for the failed military coup in the country on July 15, 2016.
The businessman’s case clearly shows the direction Turkey has taken since the events of last summer and how Erdogan has set about transforming his country into a dictatorship. Around 130,000 civil servants have either lost their jobs or been suspended while 45,000 people have been arrested.
Now, the purge has increasingly turned to the country’s economic elite. Scores of business leaders have been put behind bars as suspected conspirators behind the putsch.
The trend has not been without consequences. The Turkish economic miracle is currently in the process of transforming into the opposite: The country’s gross domestic product, which grew by 9 percent at one point under Erdogan’s leadership, saw a drop of 1.8 percent in the third quarter of 2016 relative to the same period in 2015. In December, unemployment climbed to 13 percent, which is the highest level in seven years. And the Turkish lira is at an historic low against the dollar, which has put companies that hold debt in US dollars in a tight spot.