July 28, 2014

Handcuffed justice

Ekrem Dumanlı

The ruling party has been undermining rule of law since the graft and bribery investigation that became public on December 17, 2013. It sees itself unfettered by laws and the Constitution. It has been sticking to the hoax of "parallel structure" --a veiled reference to members of the Hizmet movement inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen-- in a desperate attempt to cover up the graft investigations.

Failure to find any concrete evidence to confirm this absurd claim angered and panicked certain people. This was because all facilities of the public resources were mobilized to find any incriminating content. On the other hand, it was apparently impossible to cover up the concrete and strong evidence about corruption, bribery and money laundering investigation.

What was it done to do the impossible? As Prime Minister put it, the "groundwork was laid" and the "project" was kicked off so that evidence can be fabricated for the "parallel" hoax. First, a new bill was passed and a new court was established under this bill. Then, certain judges who are suspected to abiding by the instructions of the ruling party were appointed to these courts. Thus, the principle of natural justice was breached. However, according to this principle of the universal law, adjudication should be performed by a pre-existing court. Prosecution by a freshly established court is reminiscent of revolutionary courts or state of emergency periods as this procedure can be found only in anti-democratic periods. Coup courts cannot administer justice...

The move was the breach of the principle of natural justice and it was the initial wrong move. Then came the wrong moves of appointments. Those judges who made decisions according the desires of the ruling party in connection with the graft and bribery investigation of December 17 were appointed to the freshly established offices of the justice of the peace. Can it be a coincidence? Is it just a coincidence that these judges rushed to made decisions in line with the ruling party's theses as soon as they started to work in the courts that were established only five days ago? Their first act was to detain the police officers who were investigating the graft and bribery investigation and terror probes. Moreover, the first act was performed by exhibiting unlawfulness as an attitude. It was extremely thought-provoking that on the day the detentions were made, the investigation file about the terrorist organization Tawhid-Salam -- an Iranian-backed terrorist organization-- was shelved. However, the file was rife with serious allegations. Who might be implicated under the probe into the terrorist Tawhid-Salam so that to such extensive unlawfulness is resorted?

Later stages were full of violations. "There will be operations early in the morning. Be ready for them," the spin doctors from certain media outlets who have been acting the mouthpiece of the ruling party were told by certain pro-government prosecutors, judges and police officers. Then, the houses of certain police officers were raided late in the night and in the company of the pro-government media. Apparently, a show was in the making with the intention of intimidating certain social groups and denigrating and humiliating selected police officers. It was as if the following message was given: if any police officer dares to investigate into corruption, fraud or bribery or the radical Islamist terrorist organization.

This was done in the holy month of Ramadan as people were preparing to eat their pre-dawn (suhoor) meal. Police chiefs were handcuffed with no legal justification. However, an unexpected thing happened: the handcuffed police officers boldly and courageously shouted the truth. Showing the handcuffs, one of them shouted: "I haven't had any undeserved gain and I haven't done anything wrong." All of police officers and chiefs detained exhibited the same dignified attitude. This makes a profound impact on the public conscience as everyone thinks the same: thieves outside; those who chase them inside. But where is justice?

A mother said goodbye to his son who was detained at a midnight raid. "Son, let the thieves be ashamed. You haven't done anything disgraceful," she said. Thus, everyone necessarily remembered the shoe boxes, the billions of dollars that were disposed of, the luxury watches given as gifts, the villas built with an insatiable desire, the vessels, etc...

Dozens of police officers who are from a diverse ideological array are stigmatized with a single label. Supposedly, they are the members of the "parallel structure." Those who stigmatize people with such ridiculous and unproven claims do not respect laws in the least, do they? They don't care about rule of law. Apparently, they seek to take revenge for the investigations which caught them red-handed. It is for this reason they handcuff everyone. They handcuffed the police chief who went to the police department on his own volition. Which official dared to give this unlawful order? No official can step forward and acknowledged in a manly manner, "I gave the order" for the highly controversial instruction to handcuff the police chiefs. No one can do this because it is a crime to give such an order. Those who would complain in the past, "People are detained from their houses at five o'clock in the morning," are now dead silent. What a pity! The fear from the boss has turned the country into a prison.

Sheerly scandalous things occurred at the İstanbul Courthouse. It will certainly be a black stain in the history. Although the period legally allocated for custody terminated, the detained police officers were prevented from leaving the courthouse without a court order. This is a perfect oppression, if not ineptitude. To pass another decision for custody after the period of detention terminated is another instance of awkwardly-performed illegality. No one can account for this unlawfulness. Moreover, the lawyers saw unidentified people at the courtroom and these people met Judge İslam Çiçek, who addressed one such person as "İsmail" and encouraged him to "run away" so that his identity could not become manifest. This is another incident that proves that the justice system is out of joint and casts suspicions about judges and prosecutors.

Turkey welcomes Eid al-Fitr with handcuffs. Who was holding those handcuffs? Whose will was behind them? Handcuffed people were shouting, "I haven't had any undeserved gain." What about those whose consciences were cuffed? This handcuffed justice system cast a shadow on the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr). Unfortunately, the hearts of certain people were blackened at that night. They failed to hear the curse of the oppressed. Those who failed to hear the curse of Hussein-like people who were given nothing to eat at pre-dawn (suhoor) meal cannot understand the cruelty of the perpetrators of Karbala!

Those who oppress people and breach laws in line with their instructions will certainly be brought to account for their errors. What about those who sell their columns? What about those who imprison their reason and conscience? Who are captivated by witchcraft of the End Times? They can hardly see how handcuffed freedom turns into dignity while the people who carry their worldly stations or posts on their shoulders or who are crushed under the weight of their posts cannot know or learn about true freedom.

Piteous Turkey of hidden agendas

The storm over the "parallel state" hoax is likely to have many reasons. For instance, there are efforts to cover up flagrante delicto crimes such as bribery and fraud by exerting pressures on law enforcement officers. Given these developments, will any police officer or prosecutor be willing to catch thieves? For the last eight months, the leader of the ruling party have been accusing certain people of being a so-called "parallel state" and people would naturally ask, "What is the crime?" or "Where are the criminals?" and therefore, the freshly established courts are ordered to detain people. The espionage investigation concerning the terrorist Tawhid-Salam is being reversed to conceal the ties with Iran as well as high level spying activities between Iran and Turkey.

What is happening in the meantime? For instance, Israel continues to shell Gaza while Turkish government cannot do anything. Why? Having imprisoned itself to "precious loneliness," Turkey finds all diplomatic doors are closed. Recently, Prime Minister admitted that US President Barack Obama does not accept his request to talk on the phone. There is already no direct diplomatic contact with Israel. Egypt does not take Turkey seriously. To harangue heatedly does not prevent the massacre in Gaza!

This is not restricted to foreign policy only! The sports facilities construction of which cost $100 million collapsed, and no investigation was launched into that tender. Its contractor and those who awarded that contract weren't called to account.

By shouting and making noise and pushing unreal agendas, you may conceal certain facts only temporarily, but when the dust settles, the truth will become manifest. You can be assured of this...

Why do we lend support to the detained police officers?

Certain pro-government groups who blindly support the ruling party are apparently disturbed by our editorial policy as they ask, "Why is the Today's Zaman lending support to the police officers?" Even some of them tried to use this support as evidence of the link to the organization. Moreover, some of them are making public appearance on TVs in their capacities as jurists, but they are putting themselves to shame. First and foremost, there is no such thing as the "parallel state"; this crap has no place in laws. Second, it wrong to label these police officers as members of the Hizmet movement. To stigmatize public servants from a diverse ideological array as members of a fictitious "parallel state" and criticize other people for lending support to them can be explained only with the low quality of pro-government intelligence. The detentions conducted in the holy month of Ramadan in violation of laws are reminiscent of the Yazid's tyranny. We must ask those who just watch and condone oppression, "How can you accept this tyranny?"

We have always stated that whoever committed a crime must be punished. We still make the same assertion. But you cannot administer justice by undermining the principle of natural justice and establishing new courts and assigning handpicked judges to them and declaring certain people as guilty beforehand with pro-government media's campaigns, and conducting mass lynching campaigns via pro-government social media trolls and accusing people with different ideologies as "parallel state." with an unprecedented horseplay. Those who today thunder with despotism-induced intoxication are doomed to be brought to court in future. History is rife with numerous examples...

Successful journalism

Turkey woke up to a massive graft and bribery operations on December 17, 2013. Allegations were scandalous and the evidence was strong and the facts were hair-raising. That's why four ministers were forced to resign. However, the ruling party did everything to block the investigation which had the potential to implicate many members of the Cabinet. Instead of showing full submission to the judicial processes, it reassigned thousands of judges, prosecutors and police officers to other provinces. Unfortunately, the government performs so poorly regarding the graft and bribery investigation that Turkey fell to the league of third world country. Moreover, thieves were released and held in high esteem as "benevolent businessmen" while the officers who conducted the investigation were punished. Even the investigation was marketed as a "coup." Actually, there was really a coup, and it was staged by those were caught red-handed during the December 17 probe. Never mind... Everything will eventually be etched into history...

As the graft probe was being covered up in Turkey, a similar incident occurred in Iran. Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab --accused of being the ringleader in Turkey of a shady money-laundering and gold-smuggling ring established to dodge sanctions against Iran-- was detained in Turkey while Iran had detained Babak Zanjani. The parallel processes would show how both countries perform regarding rule of law. Turkey failed with a political guilty conscience. What about Iran? This had to be examined on the spot. Today's Zaman went to Iran and covered it. And the truth was that Turkey was lagging behind Iran in terms of anti-corruption efforts.

The serial articles regarding Iran's probe into corrupt practices of the previous governmental term is a perfect example of successful journalism. Doğan Ertuğrul went to Iran and stayed there for days and met senior officials and came up with a perfect file. This serial deserves to be archived. I believe it is of great importance that it should be published as a book to discuss the matter in more detail. I congratulate Ertuğrul and his colleagues who contributed to the serial for their journalistic aptitude. Spin-doctors should learn a lesson from this journalistic achievement. Will they? I don't think so as we saw so many of them went astray for self interest and lost their humanitarian/Islamic sensitivities.

Published on Today's Zaman, 28 July 2014, Monday