December 27, 2015


Bülent Keneş

Although there is not a full consensus internationally about its definition, there is a common understanding of what is meant by "terrorism" and who and what a "terrorist organization" or a "terrorist" refer to. In despotic regimes, though, which are ruled by arbitrariness, not the law and where international law and universal practices are ignored, definitions of "terror," "terrorist organization" or "terrorist" vary from time to time and according to the individual and groups that are being targeted. There is neither a principled attitude nor consistency in these kinds of definitions and labeling. A perception is created as if what or who is referred as "terrorism," "terrorist organization" or "terrorist" by the unlawful administrators of that country who disregard people's rights, freedoms, dignity, honor and personality along with the laws really are a terrorist, terrorist organization or engage in terrorism. Then, based on this groundless perception, dozens, hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of innocent people become targets of investigations, operations and arbitrary punishments while the administrators avoid taking such steps against real terrorists in that country.

For instance, radical terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), whose inhumane acts of terrorism and violence are followed with fear and horror by the international community, and al-Qaeda are no longer seen as terrorist organizations in that country. Operations are carried out against these bloody organizations and militants eventually after a long-lasting refusal to do so due to a failure to resist the growing pressure from the international community and powers. Unwillingly, these organizations are described as "terrorist" or "terrorist organizations" at the rhetorical level in order to seem nice to international powers. A well-worked-on perception, which is a wonder of engineering, is created successfully in the international community, suggesting that the country is part of the war against those terrorist organizations through so-called operations against them and so-called detentions of their militants. However, when one takes a look at who is arrested in these operations and brought before the judiciary, it is understood at the end of the day that the operations are just aimed at perception management.

As a result, it becomes impossible to find any significant numbers of ISIL and al-Qaeda militants who are jailed pending trial, despite being one of the major countries where these terrorist organizations easily recruits their militants. Moreover, one cannot easily encounter an example of real terrorist who is a member of a real terrorist organization either waiting for trial or who has been convicted already. Interestingly enough, not many people except for handful of media organizations, independent journalists and opponents who still have the courage to raise their voices and dare to be labeled as a "terrorist organization," a "terrorist" or a "traitor" and dare to face unlawful and arbitrary operations to be made against them for revealing their views care about this weird situation. But sadly, the international media and community have already begun to associate the name of that country with real terror organizations and begun to see it as a country that supports terrorism.


There are also some groups that are defined as a "terrorist organization" or "terrorist" by the powerful administrators of that country in accordance with their periodical needs and circumstantial political interests. These powerful administrators and their dishonorable cohorts who look like journalists and scientists could present a terrorist organization, such as the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), as the most peaceful civil society organization in the world in accordance with the administrators' needs. They could label the PKK and even people promoting peace and not directly related to the PKK as "terrorists" the moment their interests require this. They first make these people the target of defamation campaigns and then eliminate them very skillfully and successfully.

The PKK terrorist organization, with which they acted together for years to achieve some goals -- the content of which is not known by the public -- and whose activities and efforts to accumulate power they ignored, is no longer alone on their target board. Bypassing reason and with revenge as its motivation, which is hard to comprehend, they see people belonging to a different ethnicity as an enemy; for days and weeks, they flow winds of terror into cities that have a population of hundreds of thousands and disregard the safety of civilians. They simply ignore with great calmness the continuation of the killing of people including three-month-old babies and 80-year-old elderly people.

Leaving aside a serious fight against radical terrorist organizations such as ISIL and al-Qaeda, which are seen by the entire world as the biggest terrorist organizations, these powerful administrations are even suspected of supporting these terrorist organizations. In addition, they don't avoid explicitly mingling with radical Islamist terrorist organizations such as the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front (İBDA-C).

Then, by using all means of the state, they label a worldwide civil society movement known for its activities promoting education, dialogue, peace and charity such as the faith-based Hizmet or Gülen movement whose followers have not even held a gun in their lifetime as a "terrorist organization" and make it a target of every kind of arbitrary and unlawful operation, which they have avoided carrying out against ISIL, al-Qaeda, the İBDA-C and for some time the PKK.

Furthermore, police officers and prosecutors who carried out an operation against a radical group named "Tahşiye" are being tried today despite the activities of this group having been monitored and reported on by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the General Staff since early 2000s, and despite security forces having repeatedly warned against the threat of violence and terrorism they pose. These police officers and prosecutors are being tried despite the fact that Tahşiye is referred to as an al-Qaeda-linked group in public sources and the operations against the group were supported with great enthusiasm by the powerful administrators at the time because they saw them as being in line with their political needs back then.

Last Tuesday and Friday, I followed hearings at the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court of what I can't say is a "trial" but rather "a comedy of foolishness," in which Samanyolu Broadcasting Group President Hidayet Karaca and police chiefs stand trial on the grounds that they conspired against the Tahşiye group. I am still overwhelmed by shame and shock at the fact that no suspects have been released despite concrete evidence presented by Karaca's lawyers and the police chiefs revealing their clients' innocence and documents that came from MİT and the General Staff at the last minute, which led to the collapse of the charges against the suspects.

It is heartbreaking that innocent people are kept as captives by a court that is suspected of acting on orders -- all despite the fact that they are accused of establishing a terrorist organization, ruling a terrorist organization and being members of a terrorist organization in an poorly-written indictment, which fails to present any concrete evidence to substantiate the charges directed at the suspects.

The head of a media group had been in jail pending trial for more than one year in connection with a single fictive sentence in the script for a soap opera -- the last episode of which had been aired in 2009 -- despite the fact that a court decided to release him on April 25, 2015. The police chiefs who launched a crackdown on an al-Qaida-linked Tahşiye network -- which had been designated as a terrorist organization in 2010 when the operation was conducted, but which the powers that be decided to market as an innocent network later -- and who were decorated with medals for their success are being tried on charges of leading and governing a terrorist organization in the same lawsuit. They have been held captive for one and half years.

The guns the state gave them for the fulfillment of their duties are now treated as elements of terrorism and evidence of crime. These police chiefs haven't been given even a single disciplinary action so far, but they are now accused of being terrorists just because they performed their duties lawfully. Laws are violated in the full glare of publicity and the judges who have lost their qualities as independent judges perform preposterous tyrannies at courts.

Every day any move is taken as part of the witch hunt and hate operations. Dozens of innocent people are tyrannized with police crackdowns as they are accused of providing scholarships to poor students or making donations to charities. One of these crackdowns occurred in Çanakkale on Saturday. A total of 28 people including Professor Sedat Laçiner, the successful former rector of Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, were taken to custody. These charitable people were locked in an unheated sports hall in winter conditions in a way reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps. What do you think is the charge raised against them? It is "providing scholarships to poor students."

Professor Laçiner is said to be detained for making a 150-lira ($50) donation. The Erdoğan regime and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which has lost its reason, conscience and spirit and turned into a machine of persecution, tolerate organizations such as ISIL and al-Qaeda, but call Laçiner a terrorist. You may take a look at Laçiner's long and impressive CV on Wikipedia to understand the career of a man who wrote 18 books in Turkey and five books in English. Suffice to say, he was the first and only Turk who was inducted as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2006.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 27 December 2015, Sunday