Orhan Kemal Cengiz
Let me write down some of the recent developments in Turkey:
* A parliamentary commission which was established to investigate corruption allegations leveled at ex-ministers cannot hold sessions because members of the ruling party do not attend meetings. On top of that, the chairperson of the commission, who happened to be a member of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), sent the probe file back to prosecutors for an absurd reason. He said the file does not contain an index and that prosecutors should prepare one. We knew from the very beginning that this commission would not work.
* As I was writing this article, nearly all of the police officers who started the corruption investigation of ministers and their children were in custody. They were taken from their homes in pre-dawn raids. This was also expected. The police officers are accused of being members of an illegal organization (they call it a “parallel structure”).
* The police officers were taken into custody on the orders of newly established “peace courts.” Erdoğan recently confessed that these courts were established to fight the “parallel structure.” Under this new system, all decisions pertaining to searches, wiretapping and the arrest of suspects are prepared by this court. In each city there are just a few of them. Objections to one's decision goes to another one. They are just an important part of the “new” system.
* Erdoğan has just announced that the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) will be dissolved and its functions will be assumed by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). TİB is the organ which coordinates the wiretappings and other orders by the courts. MİT will be totally free to listen to whomever it wants to.
* This week the Taraf daily reported that some groups were established within the Ministry of Finance to “investigate” 100,000 companies which are believed to be distant from the government, some of which are close to the Gülen movement. This investigation will most probably be followed by the imposition of very high taxes and other penalties.
* It was revealed this week that TRT, the state television run by taxes paid by all citizens, aired stories about Erdoğan for 36 hours, whereas it only covered Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu for 13 hours and Selahattin Demirtaş for six hours, all of whom are running for the next presidential election.
* It was also revealed this week that some municipalities, whose mayors are from the ruling party, donated their lands to TURGEV, a foundation run by the son of Prime Minister Erdoğan.
I think you are beginning to get the picture; all of this happened in just the last week.
This is a picture of an extremely arbitrary way of ruling a country. This is a picture of shrinking freedoms; a picture of a state which has begun to exert totalitarian control over the lives of its citizens. The rulers can now wiretap anyone easily, arrest anyone easily; they can financially punish anyone easily.
This is the picture of the totalitarian siege on the individual by the state. After Erdoğan is elected president, we will most probably witness more and more draconian measures to silence dissent and to create more control over society. We are only at the beginning.
Published on Today's Zaman, 22 July 2014, Tuesday