August 15, 2014

Keeping silent about the 'parallel' thesis

Herkül Millas

I carefully read and listen to the arguments made by those who are against the "parallel state," trying to understand what they are advocating.

This is because among the proponents of this thesis are people I would respect and whose views I agree with. Their arguments can be summed up as follows: An organized group of people engaged in certain unlawful attempts targeting the government and the society and eventually they staged a coup -- they refer to the graft and bribery investigations of Dec. 17 and 25. This group (or gang, network, etc.) was influential within the judiciary and police, causing certain unlawful court decisions to have been issued in recent years -- they refer to the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) decisions. They say that this "gang" is linked to outside circles and promotes the interests of the US, Israel and the Vatican. This amounts to espionage and treason.

This is a very serious allegation. But it is nothing but a hypothesis unless it is proven. And this has to be done via court trials. But at this point there is a vicious cycle.

First, they said that the judiciary was being controlled by the "parallel state" and therefore, it was impartial and could not be trusted. So they reshuffled the entire judiciary.

Now, other people raise objections, saying, "This judiciary is created by you and is partisan, and cannot be trusted." In the end, the court's decision won't be respected. Just as a significant portion of the society didn't pay any respect to the Independence Courts (İstiklal Mahkemeleri), the court that sentenced Adnan Menderes and his colleagues to death, the courts established during the military regime of Sept. 12, 1980, and the courts that heard the Ergenekon/Balyoz cases and the decisions passed by the court in connection with political contentions will be considered as questionable.

Yet there is a difference to the recent court decisions. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will have the final say about them. We will have to wait a long time for the Strasbourg court, but in the final analysis, it represents the only reliable authority in this respect. In other words, the "parallel hypothesis" will remain unproven for many years to come.

But in the meantime, we have to understand, know and make sense of developments. I would really want to discuss this matter with some sane people, but this does not happen. I can understand the reason why. The parties to this conflict are not uttering different things, but they certainly talk about different matters.

One group continually asserts that a "parallel structure" is a very bad thing -- OK, I, too, condemn all sorts of unlawful clandestine efforts -- while the other group claims that the first thing that should be done is to prove the existence of such a gang, if any.

These are two different matters. When I look at the words of those people I would have felt close to in the past and who are now far away from me, I see they tend to keep silent about certain points. I want to bring these points to the forefront.

First, they never mention the principle of the presumption of innocence. Even a person who is caught red-handed with a knife on the body of a murdered person is referred to as a "suspect." A community has been labeled as a traitor (and many other unwanted descriptions) for months. These people don't make any comments about this deficiency. Another thing associated with this "deficiency" is that the top government officials are violating this principle in a way to influence the judiciary. They are silent about this matter as well.

If there is really such a parallel structure, they don't talk about the responsibility of the government about this failure to deal with it. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure the smooth functioning of the state apparatus. If a "gang" had influenced the judiciary for years, causing courts to pass unfair lengthy sentences to senior commanders of the army, the government officials are as responsible as the parallel state for this. Government officials cannot evade responsibility by declaring themselves to be naive. Indeed, a naivety-induced crime is still a crime. In fact, all crimes stem from naivety.

Moreover, the opposition parties have been harshly criticizing unfair trials. Therefore, the government officials cannot hide behind the excuse, "We didn't know it." However, many intellectuals opt to keep silent about this matter.

Another matter they "overlook" is that certain individuals and organizations that would have supported the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) until very recently do not find this "parallel" thesis at all convincing. These form two groups: The first group is the AKP's Western (former) friends, such as the EU and the US. This group does not voice any criticism about the parallel state, but voices concerns about the increased authoritarianism of the Turkish government. They continuously stress the need for a fair trial.

Many people who had supported the AKP until recently are not warm to the "parallel" thesis and note that this claim is manufactured to conceal the government's corrupt practices. I am talking about those people who used to be the AKP's friends and who are connected to the "Community." What happened to them? Our intellectuals do not talk about this, either.

They also don't talk about how this so-called parallel state can be accused of being spies or traitors. For whom do they work as spies? Those intellectuals who still maintain a certain level of dignity forget about this matter altogether. Their silence, on the other hand, implies that they don't believe in the truth of this claim. If the espionage component of this parallel thesis is not convincing, why don't they criticize it? What is this frenzy for?

They don't discuss why the opposition parties do not care about this "parallel state" that threatens the state, the county and all of us and why they don't lend support to the government. Of course, there is the convenience of declaring anyone who is against the AKP as a member of the parallel state, the lobby, a self-seeker, vindictive, etc. Moreover, there are breaches of law, interventions with the media and corruption and bribery, but they produce excuses to cover them up.

The most striking comment came from Bülent Arınç, who, calling on the "Community," said, "Say, 'Some of us engaged in wrongful acts and they are not from us,' and be saved" (Radikal, July 25, 2014). Is it so simple and easy to get rid of those terrible charges? When they say, "They did it," the spies, agents of outside circles, the parallel state that undermined the judiciary, "Pennsylvania," etc. will be free to do whatever they want.

Aren't the advocates of the "parallel state" thesis supposed to comment on this statement? How can they forgive traitors? As part of the same statement, Arınç also said, "They tried to secure votes for another political party and they voted for another party." Is the real problem about not supporting the AKP?

Finally, our intellectuals avoid any discussion of a "coincidence": When the corruption allegations became manifest on Dec. 17 and 25, the government became suddenly very sensitive about this so-called parallel state. One is urged to think about another hypothesis that is firmly held abroad: The government's sole intention is to intimidate those who made these allegations manifest, even if there were certain unlawful acts involved -- such as unlawful wiretapping. Those who advocate the "parallel state" thesis carefully avoid any discussion of this hypothesis.

In my opinion, this second hypothesis is simpler and more convincing. It does not have points that have not been discussed and contradictions such as those I mentioned above. It does not talk about foreign lobbies or enemies as reminiscent of paranoia. Moreover, it explains the extreme and hurried anger exhibited against the suspects.

I don't expect those people who nurture small self-interests and those who adore certain political figures to be fair in their comments, but I would certainly expect those who find it wrong to hide behind silence to discuss these matters and express their views. They are too late.

Published on Today's Zaman, 13 August 2014, Wednesday