November 12, 2015

G-20, neo-tutelage or trustee regime

Bülent Keneş

All of Turkey's ordeals, past and present, regarding the democratic and legal deficiencies and violations of rights and freedoms can be attributable to the judiciary's and bureaucracy's dispensing with the rule of law and coming under the tutelage of the powers that be.

Turkey's struggle for democracy, rights and freedoms has been taking place for decades in the form of the fight against this tutelary system and mentality which was permeated by the army. After years of struggle and high prices paid, the old tutelary mentality -- which did not rely on the people's will but saw them as mere packs that must be herded with a top-down and Jacobin approach -- could partially be made to retreat.

In the early 2010s, many people believed that when the army's role in the civilian sphere is largely curbed, tutelary structures would go away and Turkey would move one step toward being a liberal democratic state guided by rule of law benchmarked against the European Union's standards. But this is not what happened in reality. After it was undermined in 2011, the system of military tutelage was replaced by another sort of tutelage regime which is more domineering, more arbitrary and more unethical than the old one. The space vacated reluctantly by the army was filled by the efforts of an extremely motivated group of politicians who swiftly returned to their political Islamist roots and, naturally, to their radical Islamist ideals, to establish first a one-party regime and then a one-man regime.

Today, with its diminishing clot over politics and degrading role in society, the army's tutelage may not be in question. But a one-man tutelage that routinely breaches the Constitution and pays no respect to any law, rule or convention for one's powers and responsibilities is in place. This tutelage wreaked havoc with the independent judiciary in the wake of the graft and bribery scandals that went public on Dec. 17, 2013, and showed no respect to voters' choices in the election held on June 7, 2015.

Instead of complying with the law, it reshaped the judiciary and judicial police to its benefit and partisan expectations. It left behind no law or judiciary that can be trusted as a minimum. This new so-called judicial system, established directly with the directives of one man, dances to that one man's tune and pays no need to the legality or legitimacy of the investigations launched or decisions issued.

Having been introduced in 2014 as one man's contractors for conducting a comprehensive witch-hunt, publicly announced, against groups that are stigmatized by one man to unlawfully penalize them, prosecutors and criminal judges of peace, who are loyal to one man, have emerged as the building blocks of the new tutelary structure. As a result of militant approaches and decisions by a handful of prosecutors and judges who work in a closed loop, nothing is left behind in Turkey of freedom of enterprise, the inviolability of property, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and legal security.

This arbitrary structure which is more tutelary than the previous one has moved on to create the unlawful institutions of neo-tutelage. Anyone who refuses to swear allegiance to one man or who is hesitant to adopt a more partisan approach in line with one man's wishes has become the target and victim of the neo-tutelage system. Trusteeship, which is normally regarded as a factor of security and trust, has emerged as one of the most effective tools for the neo-tutelage. With one man's directives, investigations were launched and indictments were written by partisan prosecutors without any concrete evidence to ridiculously accuse Turkey's most reputed businessmen, most law abiding groups, and most eminent journalists and intellectuals of being members or leaders of terrorist organizations.

Those who are targeted by one man tyranny which haunts the country like a dark nightmare are subject to smear campaigns and character assassinations for days by 80 percent of the country's media outlets, which rush to indulge in black propaganda at the order of one man. Then investigations and lawsuits are launched by partisan bureaucrats -- who are ready to do every vice just to gain the favor of one man -- about these people with nonsensical allegations.

When they believe that targeted people are sufficiently demonized in the eyes of partisan masses, they move on to the next phase. Even if you are the country's most successful company, having created the most successful national brands, they confiscate your companies, home and properly like the mafia. They forcefully seize media outlets which stick to universal journalistic or broadcasting principles. They engage in all sorts of vice in order to ensure Turkey's best-equipped and seasoned journalists and intellectuals are dismissed from their jobs and sent to jail on ridiculous charges.

This country suffered greatly from the despotism of a tutelary mentality for decades, and today it is grieving deeply under the arbitrariness, unlawfulness and despotism of a national trustee who has been placed at the top of the country and who believes he can govern the people -- whom he sees as an unconscious herd -- at will thanks to media manipulations and bloody techniques of psychological warfare. Anyone who refuses to turn a blind eye to corruption, theft, wastefulness, shady relationship with radical organizations, unlawfulness, arbitrariness and despotism has his share from the national trustee's tyranny and oppression.

Newspapers are confiscated; journalists are fired and tried in courts and sent to jail and physically attacked; academics are smeared and fired; universities are threatened with closure; businessmen are forced to submit to threats; the property of those who refuse to submit is confiscated and they are imprisoned…

Every single day, a newspaper, TV channel, journalist or intellectual has their share from the lawless wrath of this national trustee. Just like what happened in the editorial offices of the Zaman and Today's Zaman newspapers and the Aksiyon newsweekly on Wednesday evening, the media outlets which seek to keep a democratic critical distance between the one-man tutelage and the national trustee's will are attacked by partisan vandals or aggressive police officers who are mobilized by partisan prosecutors/judges.

The ruthless aggression that publicly targeted the Zaman Media Group, which is one of Turkey's largest media conglomerates, just a few days before the G-20 summit meeting can be seen as concrete evidence of the progress the one-man hegemony and tutelary trustee regime has made in this country. Turkey has unfortunately become a country where the despotic civilian tutelary despotism or arbitrary national trusteeship system is being increasingly consolidated to the witness of the world. It's a shame both for this country and the world!

Published on Today's Zaman, 12 November 2015, Thursday