March 16, 2015

What is this sympathy of yours for radical organizations?

Ekrem Dumanlı

The state-owned news agency recently reported a heart-wrenching news story.

A woman was waiting for her fiancée who was arrested one week before their marriage and was sentenced to life imprisonment. "I will wait for him until the end," she said. It was impressive. Indeed, a number of media outlets used this story. Even the Prime Ministry's Press and Announcements Institution (BİK) and the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) used the story. However, this eventually led to certain reactions.

A strong objection came from Şırnak, where Şırnak Bar Association President Nuşirevan Elçi harshly criticized the state-owned news agency, revolted by the "dramatization" of the event. Speaking to online news portal, Elçi said: "She may be waiting for her fiancée, but what about the families and relatives of the innocent people he killed? Some of these people are still looking for the bodies of their sons. Those families are also waiting, what about them?” Upon reading this disgusted remark we must remember that the man arrested was associated with Hizbullah, and is charged with the murder of 80 people and the wounding of 35 others. In its lengthy coverage of the story, the news agency only briefly mentions that the inmate in question was convicted in connection with a lawsuit against members of Hizbullah. The coverage fails entirely to mention the violence and brutality with which the victims were killed, tortured, or ill-treated and the people who then disappeared.

I think we should turn the flashlight on a specific tendency within the state (or within state-linked organizations): There is a serious volume of information and evidence about "mental affinity" with "radical Islamist groups." This applies to the Tahşiye issue.

Years ago, there was a police crackdown on this al-Qaida-linked organization in an effort to send the US the message, "We combat radical organizations although you criticize us of failing in this struggle." Years later, they reversed the lawsuit against the member of Tahşiye. The ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) bureaucrats who once prided themselves on dealing a blow to the organization, later found its members and persuaded them to file an official complaint against the police officers who conducted the operation. Hidayet Karaca was arrested in connection with this trial. They said that the word "Tahşiye" was used in the script of a soap opera. In an effort to market the Tahşiye leader as an innocent person, they invited him to speak on a TV program, but this plan had unintended consequences. The leader of Tahşiye voiced his love for Osama bin Laden during the live broadcast. Meanwhile, fledgling judges were assigned to hear the Tahşiye lawsuit and in the first hearing they made a ruling of non-competence and sent the file to the Court of Cassation.

Moderate and even partisan approaches the circles of the ruling party adopt regarding al-Qaida, al-Nusra, Hizbullah and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) become salient at times. This is at the root of some problems Turkey faces in the international arena. If Turkey's ruling party had adopted a firm stance against these organizations that spill blood in Muslim territory, staining the image of Islam, the international community would not have been so confused. The fact that a minister took a defensive stance, saying, "ISIL kills, but does not torture," exposes the AK Party's attitude. Claims that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) is "shipping arms" with semitrailer trucks imply that this attitude is kept strong in the undercurrents. In this context, it should be noted that certain bloody attacks by radical organizations (such as the bombing of a police outpost in Sultanahmet, İstanbul) are not rigorously investigated.

There is also the other side of the story: The religious communities which firmly refrain from violence are slandered and defamed at a gruesome pace. The smear campaigns they launch against the religious communities they have failed to subjugate cannot be justified with reference to any human or Islamic values. The ruling party wields empathy and sympathy toward certain recidivist radical organizations while treating peaceful communities (particularly Fethullah Gülen and his followers) as terrorists. Isn't this tyranny?

It is terror to describe innocent people as terrorists. Moreover, the same mentality treats certain terror-centric organizations as if they are civil society organizations. Any person who has lost his mind and becomes unjust and forgets about the hereafter should remember that every slanderer is doomed to be crushed under the weight of his aspersions. A fly cannot pose as an eagle for long and an eagle cannot be marketed as a fly for extended periods. To those who cannot say, "A terrorist cannot be a Muslim; a Muslim cannot be a terrorist" -- you cannot escape trial by history as long as you nurture this sympathy for terror and hatred against innocent people.

Getting rid of them

Haşim Kılıç, the former president of the Constitutional Court, said, "Penal courts of peace are unconstitutional." He gave a good explanation. An appeal against a decision by a penal court of peace can be filed with another judge from the same court. One does not have to be the head of the Constitutional Court to know that this system is unconstitutional. If the majority of the members of the Constitutional Court rule that something is constitutional, does this make something that is clearly unconstitutional become constitutional?

Moreover, the during the establishment of these courts, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan mentioned them, saying, "We are laying the groundwork," thereby violating the principle of natural justice and paying no heed to concerns that a social group would be lynched after these special courts are established. In other words, the existing courts were brushed aside and new courts were founded and new judges appointed to them before they started to try people on charges of membership of the "parallel structure.”

Those who in the past complained about the victimization caused by the Independence Tribunals are today using the same methods to try innocent people. Of course, history will judge the founding mentality of these courts and assess its implementers and decree some people as innocent and others as oppressors. We will wait and see…

Last week, Grand Unity Party (BBP) Deputy Chairman Remzi Çayır made an important disclosure. He said that Erdoğan had visited the BBP's headquarters ahead of the presidential election and uttered the following remarks about the Gülen community: "We have made legal arrangements about penal courts of law. The bill will soon be ratified by [then-President Abdullah] Gül. When this bill is ratified, in one week or 10 days, I will get rid of them [the Hizmet movement].

This should be what witnessing history is. Erdoğan is supposed to say, "No, I didn't make those remarks." If he does not make this statement, then this will confirm all suspicions and concerns about these courts. Moreover, there is considerable pressure on these courts. For instance, Kemal Karanfil, a judge at a penal court of peace, was reassigned for saying that these courts are “project” courts and do not dispense justice. The number of judges working at these courts in İstanbul was raised from six to 10, but Çiğdem Yılmaz, who was appointed as the seventh judge, didn't accept the assignment. She refused to accept this position despite efforts to convince her. No one could be found to replace her and in the end, this position was closed temporarily. Reportedly, Recep

Uyanık, the fourth judge, asked to leave his position, but his request was declined. The members of the judiciary are possibly very concerned about the current state of the legal system in Turkey.

Judges who refuse to comply with the instructions of the ruling party in their decisions are quickly removed from office. The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) fails to take any action to protect the dignity of judges and prosecutors in the face of these practices by the ruling party. "Is there a price you pay by not protecting your colleagues?" one is urged to ask. The judiciary's image has never before been so tarnished. The current picture is that the party judiciary has been established and justice has been shelved. At this rate, this will destroy justice totally and Turkey will suffer from great losses.

Everyone should be aware of this sociological fact: You cannot eliminate social movements with the help of the judiciary. Using the judiciary to lay a trap for a peaceful and voluntary movement with an extensive social basis is a terrible error that history won't forgive...

Let the bill get passed

It is said that under the latest omnibus bill, it will no longer be a crime to make unfounded remarks about a bank. What the ruling party seeks to do with this provision is obvious: Those who made slanderous remarks about Bank Asya, as well as those who gave them the justification, committed a crime and they are now afraid of being tried in connection with that crime. In fact, those who committed a crime in connection with Bank Asya cannot escape. The bill won't save them as long as the crime is in place.

I believe this bill should be passed so that everyone can utter remarks about banks in a way to undermine the national economy. If this bill passes, certain banks that keep silent in the face of injustice will face a real test. Of course, there are also certain public banks that are engaged in controversial business. We will wait and see how this bill will affect them. If Economy Minister Ali Babacan, who glorifies the rule of law in every speech, fails to see the potential danger, then let them pass the bill. Then everyone should settle accounts in public.

This unlawfulness is already what undermines our banking sector. Citibank has left Turkey. HSBC is preparing to do the same. To see the miserable state of public banks, let the public know why Ziraat Bank's activities were halted in New York and why the FBI was concerned about its activities. So, let the government make it no longer crime to publish unfounded stories about banks. This move will certainly prove to be a good test for everyone... Or this crazy project should be abandoned so that the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) and the pro-government media are tried for their crimes...

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 16 March 2015, Monday