July 13, 2014

New Turkey: A republic of fabricated crimes

This is not the first time Turkey is watching this movie. The people have seen it many times before. Five decades ago, many false reports alleging that students were murdered and cut into many pieces were made.

The reports were a deliberate act of the military junta that took power in the aftermath of the May 27, 1960 coup and part of a plan to imprison the members of the Democrat Party (DP) through methods of psychological warfare. Likewise, newspapers ran headlines such as, “Fethullah's death commandos,” “Reactionary movements are more dangerous than PKK,” during the Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern coup process. And now, a “coup investigation” has been initiated against the Hizmet movement after the publication of numerous false reports. The methods used in the past to topple governments are now being implemented by the political administration to eliminate the Hizmet movement. While the goal is different, the method employed is the same. Illegality is the common feature in both instances. Given that even flawed judicial processes need to rely on basic legal principles, it becomes evident that the action taken against the movement is a coup tactic rather than a legal process. Six years ago, we criticized the indictment seeking the dissolution of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) because it was compiled by relying on Google searches. An even more flawed method is being used today to fabricate evidence in order to create an artificial clandestine organization. The police are being told to find or manufacture evidence by the members of the elected government.

Let us take a look at the details of the investigation initiated by the Ankara prosecutor Serdar Coşkun against the Hizmet movement to better understand the illegality of the process. Last week, Coşkun's illegal instructions to the police were revealed. Now it has become apparent that yet another set of instructions was sent to the police. Chair of the Anti-terror Unit of the National Police Department Turgut Aslan says in a communiqué sent to provincial police chiefs that they should investigate the members of the movement, collect and/or fabricate evidence.

Even a housewife could be identified as a coup suspect now

All criminal investigations, including crimes committed against the constitutional order, are initiated based on strong evidence confirming relevant criminal acts. In other words, a criminal act must have been committed for a legal process to be started. But is there any reference to any crime in these instructions communicated to the security units? No. There is no crime or criminal. So what is this investigation for, given that there is no criminal in the file? Everybody who is affiliated with the Hizmet movement is a potential suspect. Given that affiliation with the Hizmet movement is not confirmed by a membership application, the members of the movements will be identified by relying on individual profiles. Those who have been arguing that the Dec. 17-25 corruption investigations were coup attempts are unable to present concrete evidence for their allegations. The state is currently committing a crime by creating crimes and criminals. The implementation of the communiqué from the prosecutor is arbitrary justice. The judiciary is carrying out a huge campaign of profiling people. Many AK Party members sent their children to the schools of Hizmet movement. So will they be spared in this witch hunt just because their fathers are AK Party figures? Is the only criterion affiliation with the AK Party? We will see.

Government tries to blame Hizmet movement for criminal acts of Ergenekon

A review of the content of the instructions communicated to the police chiefs reveals that a plot is being staged against the Hizmet movement. The motion urges the police departments to investigate the alleged role of the Hizmet movement and its members in some major incidents from the last decade. Interestingly, the office of prosecutor limited the scope of this inquiry to a decade, given that Hizmet has existed in this country for many decades. Does this mean that Hizmet turned into a gang 10 years ago? Or is it because profiling of the public started in 2004 based on a decision made at the National Security Council? The same motion refers to the murder of Father Santoro, the Hrant Dink murder, the attack on the Council of State, the Zirve massacre and the murders of Necip Hablemitoğlu and Üzeyir Garih and asks security forces to investigate the linkage between Hizmet and these murders. Who is making this argument? The prosecutor or the pro-government media? The perpetrators, sponsors and plotters of these incidents have already been identified. Now the pro-government media is making false reports for use by the prosecution units to implicate the Hizmet movement.

People may file complaints of human rights violations

The motion also urges police officers to investigate whether or not the “Fethullah Gülen movement and its members have any armed forces and whether or not they have the power to eliminate the government and the Constitution once they use an armed attack to do so.” This means that the investigators have no idea of whether or not the movement has the power to commit a crime. The subsequent parts of the motion are even more interesting: The motion says that the cell phones and electronic communications of the members in the movement who are allegedly making efforts to destroy the constitutional order should be wiretapped. This means that the office of prosecutor does not know whether a coup was staged, or whether the movement has the power to stage a coup, but they are referred to as potential perpetrators of a coup who could destroy the constitutional order. At this point, it should be indicated that some people filed a complaint with the court when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan labeled Hizmet members “assassins;” but the court dismissed the complaints asking the applicants to prove they are members in the movement. So how will the police prove it? Will they rely on the profiling records? In that case, the phones of anybody who is affiliated with the Hizmet movement will be wiretapped and their electronic communications will be intercepted. This is a violation and an invasion of privacy and the confidentiality of freedom of communication. In this case, the people who are victimized by these acts are entitled to resort to legal options.

A medieval style of identifying culprits

In other parts of the motion, the prosecutor asks for the behavioral models of the members of the movement to be identified. Is there any identification of such models in universal legal principles? Identifying members of a certain group as criminals based on their behaviors and patterns of actions is a medieval style witch hunt. Or it could be seen as a profiling tactic of the new-Feb. 28 process.

There is nothing in the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) or criminal procedure to identify a crime based on behavioral models and patterns. How will the police identify the criminals based on behavioral patterns? For instance, will a person holding a prayer book be identified as suspect? Or will İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş be included in the lists of coup suspects based on these patterns, given that his son-in-law is associated with the Hizmet movement? Article 7 of the motion says that people who infiltrated the movement, make the decisions and manipulate the Hizmet members should be identified. There is a logical error in this. If the movement is already a clandestine organization, why would be the infiltrators be considered criminals? But if you are investigating the infiltrators, why are you implicating the entire movement?

In Article 19, it is argued that the movement has been trying to seize control from within the state since 2003; the police are asked to take statements from so-called victims of the investigations and cases. This means that all criminals convicted in legal cases since 2003 may serve as complainants in prosecutions and investigations. It was the Turkish judiciary, judges and prosecutors who performed the investigations over the last 11 years. So, at this point, it could be said that everything the prosecutors and judges did in this period could be associated with the Hizmet movement. This is an unbelievably absurd assumption. If crimes had been committed since 2003, why did the justice ministry not take any action? As MHP deputy Engin Alan, who was released as a suspect in the Balyoz case noted, the government was aware of everything. If this is the case and the government did not take action, should the government not be implicated and blamed? If they were victims, why did Erdoğan declare him the prosecutor of the Ergenekon case? Finally, it is easy to identify the traces of the tactic devised by the prosecutor to fabricate crimes in the confidential instruction and motion that states that informants should be used, those who left the movement should be interviewed and books against the Hizmet movement should be reviewed.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 13 July 2014, Sunday