February 6, 2015

Change of attitude from democratization to authoritarianism

Abdülhamit Bilici

Everybody gets upset by the anti-democratic acts, the shelving of the Constitution, the non-compliance with judicial decisions and the pressure on the business world, civil society and opposition parties.

Maybe we should just be sad about people who, after being humiliated in the past and imprisoned for exercising fundamental rights, embraced democratic reforms and standards, only to abandon this democratic stance. Maybe we should be just sad about a person or a group of people who have been against a single-party regime for many years but have started to implement one. We should be sad about people who, after arguing that they would subscribe to religious and ethical principles, violated all ethical rules and considerations once they acquired power.

Last year, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking about former President İsmet İnönü, described the second president of Turkey as a dictator: “If you want to see a fascist, take a look at the photo of the person you hang in your rooms.” But five months after this statement, Erdoğan said about İnönü: “[Our] Second president İnönü is one of the most influential and important people in our republic's history, [and was] a politician and valuable statesman due to his contributions to the national war of liberation.” Of course, you could examine your ideas and views on particular matters based on a process of self-criticism and past experiences. However, you can only be sad about a person who says the opposite of what he used to say in the past, and you should help him get through this problem.

In the past, he praised Turkish schools; now he makes tireless efforts to close down them. In the past, he referred to the members of the Hizmet group as partners in his cause; now he calls them viruses, assassins and terrorists. In the past, he asked Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen to return back to Turkey, but now he does not hesitate to use the state apparatus to ensure that he is deported. After meeting President Barack Obama, he argued that the US was willing to deport Gülen, but the White House denied this. He further accused Gülen of being hand-in-hand with the pope, but he wrote a letter to the pope praising him excessively and later hosted the pope at the AK Palace. In the past, he said, “Those who talk to the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] are dishonorable.” But negotiation with İmralı has become his number one policy.

The infamous “Red Book” in which religious fundamentalism was referred to as a domestic enemy was looked down on in the past. Now it is being used as a means of destroying a social group. The profiling and witch-hunt that took place on Feb. 28 was disgusting. But now he admits to a witch-hunt and profiling.

He complained about illegal wiretapping in the past, but he used the illegally recorded tapes of former opposition leader Deniz Baykal. He prevented the prosecution of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) members who wiretapped illegally, and enacted laws enabling the government to interfere with the privacy of the people.

He was opposed to Israel, but bilateral trade with this country increased significantly in his term. The red notices issued for the Israeli soldiers who killed Turkish people on the Mavi Marmara were not processed. He accused Koc Holding head Mustafa Koç of supporting a coup attempt during the Gezi protests but he also participated in the group's opening ceremony.

First, the pro-government media declared Gülen a CIA agent, but then he announced that the MİT would work in cooperation with the CIA to get Gülen back to Turkey. If you believe him, this would mean that the CIA would work to surrender its own agent to Turkey. Following this groundless allegation, he now claims there is a connection between the Hizmet movement and Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

The contrast between his past and current views could be tolerated if it were minimal. But the list is too long, so there is no doubt that we, as a society, have a problem.

Published on Today's Zaman, 06 February 2015, Friday