May 18, 2015

The frenzy of the ruling party

Bülent Keneş

The government circles that were caught red-handed in huge graft and bribery operations on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013 have raised some ungrounded and extreme allegations and accusations against some social groups, particularly the Hizmet movement. They have made numerous allegations, slanderous remarks and statements in political rallies and media publications over the last 18 months. Despite the fact that it has been a long time, they have been unable to present any concrete evidence proving their allegations.

All these ungrounded allegations and accusations were used to remove a number of police chiefs and hundreds of judges and prosecutors from their posts. New courts were established to ensure that these people would be unable to exercise their rights and seek justice. Militant figures were appointed to the existing judicial institutions. Hundreds of people have been jailed without any concrete evidence, contrary to basic legal rules and principles. There is still no indictment on the allegations against the police officers arrested on July 22, 2014 in a perception-management operation. Reports indicate that the drafting of the indictment is being deliberately delayed because there is no concrete evidence against the defendants.

In the meantime, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) administration, caught red-handed in corruption and bribery, has been carrying out a horrible campaign relying on lies and slander for 18 months. They mobilize certain segments of the public to attract popular support for their illegal actions; innocent people are accused and then jailed by project courts. Unfortunately, the processes of investigation and prosecution against people such as journalists, bureaucrats, military servicemen, judges, prosecutors and civil society actors are not moving forward as regular judicial processes. These processes are being carried out through perception management fabricated in the campaigns of media groups that do not feel obligated to comply with ethical rules and considerations.

Innocent people -- whose image is undermined through lies, slander and accusations made in media campaigns without proper evidence or proof -- are sent to jail by decisions made by the project courts. As in the case of Samanyolu TV General Manager Hidayet Karaca, some of them are jailed based on a TV scenario and script, and as in the arrest of the police officers, some are interrogated for going after terror organizations, organized clandestine groups and drug cartels. More importantly, as in the case of former Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) Deputy Chairman Hasan Palaz, innocent people are jailed because they did not support the political administration's position. We also need to recall the prosecutors who have been expelled from their profession because they initiated investigations against clandestine organizations according to the law and the judges who have been jailed because they issued legal rulings.

Because they are carrying out illegal and arbitrary operations based on perception management, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the political authority under his rule feel extremely concerned about the awakening of the people on whom the perception engineering and management does not work. For this reason, they are elevating pressure upon the media. There is currently no single journalist or media organ that has not been prosecuted because they firmly stood against the injustices of the political administration.

On the other hand, despite the fact that he pledged to remain impartial under the Constitution, Erdoğan delivers speeches in political rallies. He feels the need to do so because he wants to preserve the perception they have created. A person who rides a bicycle needs to keep pedaling; likewise, Erdoğan and his aides need to hold campaigns for their lies and slander in order to keep the perception management alive. And again, Erdoğan and his aides do not give priority to governing the country. Their concern is to manage the perception of the public; for this reason, they keep talking in rallies and TV programs all the time. Their speeches, which are full of lies and ungrounded allegations, are aired live on TV stations and published as headlines in newspapers.

It is no longer a secret that Erdoğan and his aides seek to destroy all opposition groups, and particularly the Hizmet movement, by reference to the so-called “parallel state” or “parallel structure” -- an invention they fabricated despite the fact that it is against all established principles of democratic rule and government. Because nothing can be done against innocent people and groups by legal means, Erdoğan and his aides are zealously destroying the principle of the supremacy of law. In every step of their struggle to intimidate opposition groups, they are committing a huge crime, and they are aware that they will be held to account eventually.

And because they have no concrete evidence in legal terms, they are trying to achieve their goals through reliance on the political support they secured from part of society through perception management. And they view opposition groups and the independent media as the greatest obstacle to the achievement of this goal. It should be admitted that the independent and free media is countering the tricks of the perception and social engineering staged by Erdoğan and his aides. This alone is sufficient to understand that this media attracts the fury of the Erdoğan dictatorship. And Erdoğan is trying his best to intimidate and silence this independent and free media.

The investigations, lawsuits, insults, accusations, threats and taxes must have proven futile because there are now rumors suggesting that they have drafted plans to eliminate the free media physically because they view it as the greatest obstacle to their perception operations. The pro-Erdoğan media outlets in particular publish reports and stories on a daily basis about how to confiscate opposition media. These despotic desires and ambitions are not just about some sick and primitive fantasies of the pro-government media; papers now report that prosecutors will take action to silence the free and independent media before the elections.

Recent news reports indicate that an Ankara-based prosecutor who dedicates himself unconditionally to serving Erdoğan sent a note to the Ministry of Transportation, asking it to silence the opposition media before the upcoming general election. The note, which seems to contradict the law, seeks to lay the ground for shutting down the communication infrastructure of the TV and radio stations and websites of the opposition. It must be because he saw the appearance of opposition views in the media as contrary to the constitutional order that Prosecutor Serdar Coşkun send a note asking the ministry to shut down the satellite connections that the opposition media is using.

The justification for this weird instruction seeking to silence all opposition media groups and outlets is even graver: He argues that the media outlets that do not support Erdoğan cause polarization and alienation among the public. This logic, which has not been observed before in Turkey, even in coup periods, reveals the grave situation in terms of media freedom in Turkey and shows that the Erdoğan regime has become even more despotic than a coup administration. According to the assertions in this note by this prosecutor -- who is unaware of the fact that democracy is all about pluralist competition-- it is the opposition media outlets that are polarizing and terrorizing the public.

Maybe this man who despite a lack of knowledge of democracy and the law serves as a prosecutor is right. If everybody submits unconditionally to Erdoğan and his aides, remains silent to the illegalities and crimes, ignores the corruption and bribery and stays indifferent to the lies and slander of the political administration, our country will become as peaceful as North Korea. Maybe the country will become even more peaceful if the public is forced by an instruction from a prosecutor to prostrate before Erdoğan.

Dear prosecutor! Do not hesitate; issue an instruction about that as well.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 17 May 2015, Sunday