May 19, 2015

Law is over

Oğuzhan Tekin

Turkey has become a typical Middle Eastern authoritarian regime for the last year-and-a-half. After entering into President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's presidency in early August 2014, Turkey turned into a de facto presidential regime like former President Hosni Mubarak's Egypt.

When you grow up in Turkey, its education system teaches you that Turkey was never mandated by a Western power and achieved the establishment of a republic by winning the Independence War unlike many other Middle Eastern countries. You think that your country is somehow more developed than them. It gives you a kind of pride with its Western orientation and democratic experience. Unfortunately, I lost my belief in all stories I heard about my country. I may describe Turkey's situation as a mob capturing power.

The mob is composed of robbers, coup makers, liar politicians, opportunistic businesspeople and bureaucrats. They are pirating Turkey. Why do I feel that way? The government's Ottomanist and Islamist dreams drugged Turkey into a Middle Eastern swamp. From becoming a playmaker, a model and a regional power in the Middle East, Turkey remained alone in the Middle East, far away from European Union ideals and as an unreliable partner for the United States. Turkish diplomacy became the subject of jokes in international relations. Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have been committing constitutional crimes constantly.

Erdoğan has a presidential power in a parliamentary democracy but he acts as if he is a president in a presidential democracy. He even rallies for the AKP for coming elections. Recently, the Minister of Internal Affairs said that he does not recognize the Constitution. If they are not complying with the Constitution, why would I recognize their legitimacy, which was given by the Constitution.

Today, May 18, Head of Constitution Department at Marmara University of Law Faculty Prof. İbrahim Kaboğlu said, “What I understand from comparative constitutional law is that Erdoğan and AKP made a constitutional coup. The constitution can be removed by (a military) coup or ‘de facto'. They made it as de facto. But, as long as the current Constitution is in force, no one breaks laws through de facto or transition period profess.” He critized Erdoğan's expressions, “ You can not judge me, I can solely be charged with treason” and said, “As a President, if you violated laws regularly, yes, indeed you commit treason, you would not fulfill your duties, you are entering an area where you are not assigned to conduct, and constantly you are violating the Constitution.”

The judiciary, including particularly the Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court, surrendered to the government or were seized by the government. There are very critical individual and institutional applications waiting for decisions from the Constitutional Court. But it prefers to wait and see de facto situation, then it decides to decide in favor of the government. Ultimately, it leads to victimization of thousands. Indeed, I believe the Constitutional Court members commit Constitutional crimes by acting politically and delaying (un)just decisions.

Military coup planners, despite receiving life sentences approved by the Court of Cassation, were released from prison.

The government established the new Criminal Judgeship of Peace to punish the opposition, particularly Gülen movement sympathisers. In these judgeships you are not able to appeal or challenge the judge. It is hard to understand but it is as is against all legal principles. Judges in the judgeships were rigorously appointed to guarantee judicial decisions. The government also passed a reasonable doubt bill that gives the judges the right to arrest suspects without real evidence. Many civil servants and journalists were arrested and put in prisons under the so-called reasonable doubt justification by the judgeships in the last 10 months.

Recently, three prosecutors and one judge were fired because they pursued the 17-25 December corruption probes. Two more judges were arrested for their verdicts, which annoyed the government. Hundreds of them were replaced due to the government's arbitrary acts.

Afterwards the arrest of the judges, respected law scholar Prof. Dr. Ergun Özbudun said, “I am tired [of] giving legal interpretations [for unlawful practices done by the government and judiciary]. Every day there are things happening [that] I am unable to understand. We are at the point that law is over.”

The press is facing extreme political, judicial and economic pressure that it did not face even the coup eras. You would be taken into custody because of your oppositional tweets. Almost a hundred of journalists were sued by authorisation of the Justice Minister for insulting Erdoğan with their articles. If they are found guilty, they are sent to jail from one to four year sentences.

Last year the government had put Gülen movement on Turkey's list of terrorist organizations as a parallel state structure. It planned to annihilate all Gülen-inspired institutions through such a cause. As a first move, it seized administrative control of Bank Asya, a Gülen-inspired bank.

Nowadays, it is revealed that the government wants to confiscate two institutions: Feza Media Group and Samanyolu Broadcasting Services.

Feza Media Group, the second largest media group in Turkey, which includes Zaman, Today's Zaman, Cihan News Agency, Aksiyon Weekly, Irmak TV and Turkish Review Quarterly, has been active for more than three decades.

Samanyolu Broadcasting Services, whose CEO has been under arrest since Dec. 14, 2014 and is one of the largest broadcasting groups in Turkey, has been active for two decades.

Despite its pro-government stance, the biggest media cartel, Doğan Group, is also under government pressure.

After the probes, the institutions took oppositional stand against the government. Therefore, on the one hand it wishes to silence them, it also wants to demonstrate its pressure the rest of the oppositional media by this intimidation on the other. The confiscation plan is unacceptable.
Where do you go with your complaints and lawsuits? How do you defend yourself? In Turkey nowhere is available at the moment. No institutions or judges dare to give favorable decision for you. They observed their peers' destiny, ending up in the prison.

In Turkey, the last appealing institution is the Constitutional Court. However, It is closed in these days. If you were lucky, you get a decision. After the Constitutional Court's verdict, you are allowed to appeal at the European Court of Human Right (ECtHR). This process takes at least three to four years. The government does not care about the decisions of Turkish courts, why does it care about the ECtHR's decisions? For credibility or prestige? The government left these long ago.

Every day, we learn about a new unlawful intervention of the government. It is impossible to catch, follow and archive them. We have been wasting our human resources, capital resources and entrepreneurship and investment possibilities. We have not been producing anything. We are just chatting about politics in the bureaucracy, universities, business circles and even primary schools. We will have a parliamentary election on June 7. Whatever the results are, I do not expect it to bring peace, hope or justice. Like the Middle East's uncertainty, we are in state of political turbulence, which will end up in an indefinite future.

Published on Today's Zaman, 19 May 2015, Tuesday