October 25, 2015

Too little, too late

Bülent Keneş

Everyone referred to him as "the conscience of the [Justice and Development Party] AK Party." He would come up with a bold move or remark in critical times and was perceived as the "voice of truth." He has a clean political career. His name could hardly be associated with any graft, theft, bribery or corruption allegation. But unfortunately, just as the AK Party has lost virtually all of its crucial values in its transformation into the AKP, he too lost many of the characteristics that had defined him. He was certainly a suis generis political and human value. But he himself failed to know his own value.

Indeed, he opted to keep silent and close-tongued in the face of the blatantly and willfully committed unlawfulness, arbitrariness, tyranny, despotism, theft, corruption, bribery, plunder, lies, slanders, insults and bloodshed. He even became part of the network that sought to lynch and demonize Turkey's most innocent people. But as efforts to establish the one-man despotism started to encroach on his domain, he raised his voice slightly and timidly and felt the need to remember and make people remember his so-called "specific gravity" that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tore to pieces.

As Turkey was swiftly heading toward arbitrariness, unlawfulness and one-man despotism with Erdoğan at its helm, he synchronized his red lines to the requirements of his political career, thereby wasting his credit as the "AKP's conscience" or the "voice of the truth" like a political spendthrift. He never raised his voice against the gang of parvenu political Islamists that came to the front of the ranks of the AKP as it rapidly mutated into a political monster and he remained silent as this gang pushed the country toward Islamofascism. Every time he pretended to raise his voice, albeit feebly, he just put some of his personal troubles at the center before uttering some turgid remarks.

Thus, he gradually and irreversibly lost his credibility, reliability, respectability, gravity and prestige.

Yet, it took a while before he came to this point. Unfortunately, we never saw his famous conscience urge him to make any truthful remark about the Uludere tragedy, in which 34 civilians were mistaken for terrorists and killed by military airstrikes in Şırnak province's Uludere district due to false intelligence, or about the Gezi Park protests. Since 2001, he had been able to emerge as the voice of the truth neither in face of the massacres and pressures Kurds were suffering from nor about the empty promises made to our Alevi citizens. Furthermore, he comfortably sat in the Cabinet side-by-side with those who wore the mask of heedlessness and shamelessness after hundreds of miners were sacrificed to the greed for more money in Soma and Ermenek. I don't know if you were aware of this but his image as a "clean" or "honest" man was among those that were swept away by the flood of graft and bribery scandals that went public on Dec. 17, 2013. Well, it was just the image! It could hardly compensate for the sad and overwhelming reality, despite the huge repository of skills and experience for deception acquired over the years.

On the other hand, I cannot say if he just swallowed the tremendous helplessness he was facing or whether he just knowingly and willingly chose to keep silent. Yes, he not only failed to stand up to those who immorally robbed the poor but also took active roles in the reshuffles, dismissals and imprisonment of the police officers, prosecutors and judges who exposed the theft and corrupt practices to daylight. As if this wasn't enough, he took part in the campaign to victimize around 40,000 public servants who were said to be members of the so-called "parallel structure," which he knew at heart to be a despicable lie. In the final analysis, he was a deputy prime minister and he intentionally chose to be part of the oppression and unlawfulness instead of being the voice of truth.

He marketed himself as "not greedy." But he extravagantly wasted everything that he carefully created over the course of his political career. Perhaps he feared losing his seat, which he dirtied by being an instrument in or turning a blind eye to tyrannies, or perhaps he sought to reinforce his position within his party, which was tainted with corruption allegations. Thus, he allowed himself to be used as a mere tool in the disgracefully conducted "witch hunt." He continued to govern the country with disturbing ease and a total lack of conscience as innocent people were removed from office and police academy students were arbitrarily expelled from school and untainted people were unlawfully prosecuted and sent to jail with fait accomplis.

He was among the despotic mob that attempted to shut down the prep schools -- whose educational and social functions he was fully aware of -- and paralyze Kimse Yok Mu? (Is Anybody There?) which is focused solely on charity work. He didn't move a finger when they revengefully seized Bank Asya. As the members of a community to which even some of his family members belong were accused of being "members of a terrorist organization," even though he knew very well that some of them had never touched a weapon in their lives he didn't allow even a trace of his famous conscience, well-known integrity or blatant straightforwardness to appear. He remained silent as the journalists to whom they were grossly indebted in their struggle against military juntas and who they closely knew to be extremely honest were targeted by the most ignoble lynching campaigns and were unlawfully arrested and arbitrarily sent to jail. He didn't mention even once the name of Hidayet Karaca, who was arrested in connection with a soap opera script and has been kept in jail for 11 months, despite a court's decision to release him.

He buried his head in the sand as heavily armed police officers accompanied inspectors auditing nurseries, schools and dormitories across the country solely for the purpose of satisfying Erdoğan's and his crime-tainted cronies' personal feelings of vengeance and utterly nonsensical efforts were being made to shut down the Turkish schools run by Turkish entrepreneurs around the globe inspired by the ideas of well-respected Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. He preferred to play the "dumb Satan" as philanthropic businessmen who he knew were arrested, sent to jail and tyrannized.

It is an irony of fate that he has recently started to raise his voice as the slanders, unlawfulness, arbitrariness, oppression and pressures of which he was part have eventually found him. "I've lost my affection for some people. One should pick one's companions carefully," he said, referring to the person in the unlawfully built palace. He complains about how the state-owned Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) -- which was subordinated to him when he was a minister -- as well as many pro-government TV channels and media outlets have refused to allow him to make TV appearances for about two years. He maintains that certain columnists in the Erdoğan-sponsored media outlets have committed more crimes than the bloodthirsty and tyrannical Yazid. "They nefariously attack people's dignity. Yazid would envy them," he says. Well, what can we say to him: "Good morning!"

Eventually, he manages to utter a few sentences about Fethullah Gülen, who has been targeted with the meanest attacks and most indecent slanders by the raving mob of which he is a member. "Now, some people try to associate Gülen with a terrorist organization called FETÖ. There is no such organization listed in the National Security Policy Document -- called the ‘Red Book' in popular parlance, which used to be considered the 'secret constitution' of Turkey -- or in the decisions of the National Security Council [MGK]," he says.

Bülent Arınç, one of the founding fathers of the AKP, has certainly played a major role in the crimes, unlawfulness and oppression committed by the AKP over the last few years, but it is significant that he made -- or was forced to make -- these remarks just a week before the election. Arınç's remarks provide grave clues about the inevitable political developments in the near future. Yet, what he said is too little and too late.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 25 October 2015, Sunday