July 14, 2014

Who should be fearful?

Ekrem Dumanlı

The claim is terrifying: A secretive unit, reportedly named the Cosmic Study Group (KÇG) -- within the National Police Department -- has held a meeting and profiled businessmen and some 100,000 Hizmet-related companies all across Turkey.

The Taraf daily reported on July 10 that in the secret meeting, which was attended by some prosecutors and high-level bureaucrats, several decisions were taken. What were the decisions taken in this meeting? It was decided that corporations considered to be opposed to the government through their economic activities would be sent a notice concerning the information gathered about them. After these notices were sent to the companies, the related state agencies would kick off a detailed inspection into these firms. And the pro-government media would publish news stories defaming these firms. What is the purpose? To force these companies either to support the government or go bankrupt and be bought out. How can it be possible? That's impossible. It is a crime for a state to profile and discriminate against its own citizens and create hatred and fear within society. And those who have committed these crimes will be held accountable for their actions.

Since the Taraf daily's report, the people have waited for the government and the public institutions mentioned in the story to send a complaint to the newspaper. Why? Because in the Taraf news story, there were some specific details about the meeting. For example, the date of the meeting, the names of units of public institutions attending the meeting, a 10-stage plan envisaged during the meeting. More importantly, Taraf also claimed that prosecutors, police officers and other bureaucrats came to the meeting in their official cars assigned to them by the state. Since the daily provided very specific information about the meeting, held in the building of the Finance Ministry's Revenue Administration (GİB) in İstanbul's Gümüşdere area, the public institutions and people mentioned in the story were expected to send a correction to the newspaper. It is not possible that such a meeting, which is obviously a violation of the Constitution, will be forgotten because the government remains silent about these claims.

Neither the National Police Department, the Interior Ministry nor the Justice Ministry have issued a statement on this issue. This is unbelievable. A news story containing disturbing claims has been published, and the state institutions that were brought under suspicion have kept silent in the face of these heavy accusations. If it can be said that "Silence implies consent," then all these ministries, public institutions and public servants are admitting this crime. Moreover, profiling people is a crime under the Constitution. Each stage of this 10-stage plan drags the state into a criminal act. In no democratic country can the state profile its citizens according to their faith, lifestyle or preferences and discriminate against them. If there is a state official who thinks that fascism has come to this country, democracy has been suspended and despotism has become the new administrative form of the country, they should know that all forms of injustice will be challenged and tried (regardless of their positions).

The only public institution that has made a statement about these claims is the Finance Ministry. It has issued a statement; unfortunately, instead of providing clear answers to these specific claims, it just uttered arrogant and combative rhetoric against these claims. Moreover, the targeted inspections of the Finance Ministry lead to suspicions about the ministry's methods. Unfortunately, there is strong evidence that the ministry is using these investigations as a weapon by concentrating such controls on a certain group of people -- and particularly on those with critical views on government policies -- while writing off the debts of pro-government companies. I thought that Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek was sensitive to these issues. However, there are strong claims that the criteria used by Finance Ministry inspectors during these inspections were not prepared by the ministry and that ministry inspectors are forced to conduct these inspections based on the profiling reports of another public institution. By ignoring such practices, which will undermine commercial life in the country and violates human rights, the Finance Ministry has not only become an accomplice in the crime but also damaged the unity and prosperity of the country. This may be too bad.

No political party, government or individual that has used the state's mechanisms, entrusted to them by the people, as a tool for suppression has been remembered in a positive way. When things go back to normal, each crime that has been done will resurface, and the victims of these crimes who struggle for the realization of their rights will make the perpetrators be tried in the courts, and some people will be shamed later. It's not worth it.

Since Dec. 17, 2013, when the major corruption probe became public, they have used all the resources of the state to find evidence proving that the Hizmet movement has been involved in illegal activities, but they could not find anything. They cannot find anything because this community has never been involved in illegal activities. Only fascist states fabricate offenses when they cannot find a real offense. There is no place for witch hunts or arbitrary pressure in a democratic state governed by the rule of law. It seems that they will resort to illegal methods as they cannot support their imaginary "parallel structure" claims within the legal borders. But this is injustice. An investigation cannot be launched based on the lies of resentful people.

No one need have such a fear. There is only one thing in this world to fear, which is fear itself. Those who have committed crimes, been involved in illegal actions and corruption, violated laws and the Constitution, lied, slandered, fabricated offenses, given illegal orders and followed these orders should have fear.

Does truth or perception matter?

There is lots of information circulating; people cannot differentiate between a lie and the truth. An active patience is required to understand the truth. And also a firm stance, not bending over or bowing to anyone but Allah.

The prime minister himself has voiced some claims in public. But when the truth resurfaced, it was revealed that the true side of the story was not the same. However, he insisted on voicing these lies. For example, they have tried to link the removal of a Turkish flag in Diyarbakır province in early June to the Hizmet movement. There cannot be a more unjustified accusation directed at a community that makes the Turkish flag wave in every part of the world. Finally, the protester who had taken down the Turkish flag during the protest in Diyarbakır was identified by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), and it was announced that he is a member of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Shouldn't the government apologize to members of the Hizmet movement?

It has been claimed that an indictment prepared after a major graft operation refers to him as “then-prime minister,” implying that a criminal case would be launched using the indictment to help overthrow him and his government. Several news stories and columns have been written on this claim. The prosecutors who prepared the indictments into the probes of Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 and the police officers who participated in the operation have denied these claims. Pro-government groups have ignored their remarks and continued to repeat the “then-prime minister” claims. Finally, independent deputy Hakan Şükür submitted a written parliamentary question to the Parliament Speaker's Office asking Prime Minister Erdoğan to show the documents proving his claims that he was referred to as “then-prime minister” in an indictment prepared after the major graft investigation. However, Erdoğan has not responded to Şükür's question.

There are dozens of examples of this kind of behavior. There are lots of unfounded claims, and some of these unfounded claims have been proven untrue. Unfortunately, these claims are repeatedly voiced as a part of a campaign to manipulate people's perceptions.

So which matters, perceptions or the truth? Of course, the truth! Because perceptions are being shaped by lies and slander, by distortion of the facts. However, it should be remembered that the truth will always resurface and the liars will be be punished either in this world or in the hereafter.

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