November 20, 2015

Upping the ante on evil

Bülent Korucu

The hate operations targeting the Hizmet (Gülen) movement have recently had its climax. At a time when a party which brags about protecting the rights of “headscarved women” was in power, headscarved housewives were handcuffed to the witness of their children.

A 56-year-old teacher of religion was arrested on charges of "terrorism." Of course their identity does not preclude the possibility of their committing crimes, but no conclusive evidence has been produced so far. At the same time, a witch-hunt against certain institutions is under way. Trustees appointed to holdings are wreaking havoc with the companies as if to show the very reason for their assignment. Institutions are being undermined with the charge that they provide a fictitious terrorist organization with non-existing weapons which no one has seen.

Although trustee appointment is a measure, it has been implemented as a sentence. Trustees, who are supposed to protect the commercial interests of the companies and their partners, threaten the very existence of those companies and their brand values. A veteran jurist, the former president of the Supreme Court of Appeals clearly explains the contradictions in this practice. "It must be noted that trustees must be neutral and impartial. Therefore, they must not have any connection with the prosecuting authority and the defense," he says, for instance. This principle is breached in practice as the trustees appointed to the media companies belonging to Akın İpek broadcast contrary to the interests of their owner. They try to refute the arguments İpek will use in court to defend himself. In the final analysis, the damage will not be done only to Akın İpek. Using money from partners and thousands of investors, they try to prove that the company in question is guilty.

Trustees do not have the qualifications required for the job, and given the people they have recruited and the people they dismissed out of revenge, the whole business has obviously become scandalous. What they do is the exact opposite of what the law dictates. Not only are the partners victimized, so are employees and even beneficiaries.

When rule of law returns to the country, the perpetrators of all these unlawful acts will be tried. But there is another great risk: Evil's ante is continually being upped. This tension-based policy has brought society to the point of being split in two. Police raids of nurseries, police detaining a woman by dragging her on the ground, and the dragging of a corpse behind a police vehicle can find support from society. The audience protesting the memory of the victims of the Paris attacks by whistling ahead of a national football match should ring alarm bells. Protests during a one minute's silence for our citizens who were killed in Ankara and the people who were brutally killed in France are sufficiently nightmarish. To our dismay, that nightmare came true. Pumping so much tension into social fault lines is like playing Russian roulette. Eventually, you'll get the bullet in your head.

The reasons provided for trustee assignment are raising the bar on the evil that can be done. Making a list of prayers, referring to someone as “brother” and gathering for reasons other than commercial purposes are labeled as crimes. For God's sake, tell me: Is there any religious community, order, association, fellowship or similar social organization which cannot be described as criminal under these criteria? Even in the most restrictive coup eras, prayer was not considered a crime. Do supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) come together only for commercial purposes? Don't they make lists of prayers or address each other as “brother”? When they are faced with the same treatment in the future, will they wake up?

The perpetrators of the postmodern coup of Feb. 28, 1997 put businesses into ideological categories and tried to sink the “green” (Islamic) ones. The biggest evil they did was to prepare embargo lists and deny public tenders to certain companies. But they did not confiscate YİMPAŞ or Kombassan. Think about this before raising objections to those who describe the recent practices as worse than what the perpetrators of Feb. 28 did. And remember that this bomb will eventually find you.

Published on Today's Zaman, 20 November 2015, Friday