December 21, 2015

The civil coup after Dec. 17 and 25

Sevgi Kuru Açıkgöz

The dates Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013 have come to symbolize a negative turning point in Turkey's political environment. Two years ago, two massive graft investigations implicating some of those in political power were blocked by the government. In the following months, Turkey experienced a huge disruption in law, security, social peace and morality.

Firstly, the judicial system was blocked by appointing new public prosecutors to the investigations. The initial judge hearing the case, Süleyman Karaçöl, and public prosecutors Zekeriya Öz, Celal Kara, Muammer Akkaş and Mehmet Yüzgeç, have been expelled from their professions. Furthermore, they have been put on trial on charges of “creating an illegal organization” because of their carrying out of the graft investigations. Hundreds of other judges and public prosecutors were either demoted or removed from their jobs several times with false accusations of being a member of the so-called parallel structure, which had been described as the new “enemy” of the country by the government machine.

The police department of the country was also flung into disarray after Dec. 17 and 25. The chief police officers who conducted the corruption investigations were accused of being a part of the so-called parallel structure which, the AKP says, “tried to overthrow the government.” Dozens of respected chief officers were detained. Those who were not detained were fired or demoted. The judges Mustafa Başer and Metin Özçelik, who later decided to release the police officers who were detained on charges of being members of the “parallel structure,” were also detained for being “members of an armed terror organization.”

Essential staff members from both the judiciary and the police department were removed from their positions. The country's police college was closed without even waiting for the current class' graduation. The students were basically dismissed and lost any hope of becoming police officers. Turkey's vulnerability increased to such an extent that bombs exploded in the middle of the capital city, which caused the death of more than a hundred citizens in one incident.

While all of this was going on, the government passed laws which gave more autonomy to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the Telecommunication Directorate. These new laws violated the privacy of the individual citizen to a huge extent. They were justified in the pro-government media through an emphasis on constructing a “powerful state” and “combatting the parallel structure.”

The already fragile social peace disappeared completely with current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's and the pro-government media's framing of every criticism as treachery and sedition. The name of the main target was the “parallel,” which referred to the people attached to the Hizmet movement. Issuing new fairy tales on dozens of newspapers and TV stations, Erdoğan managed to vilify the Hizmet movement in the eyes of his supporters. When they were convinced that the vilification process had matured, they started fictitious operations on the institutions and companies run by people sympathetic to the Hizmet movement. The government came down hard on Bank Asya, Kaynak Holding and İpek Holding companies, completely unlawfully. Schools that were run by people sympathetic to the movement were having repeated inspections, despite no fault being found each time one happened. Armed police officers were entering schools while children were inside. TV stations were expelled from the Turkish satellite company. Schoolteachers and philanthropist old women were taken in for questioning. But all of this did not bother the conscience of the “conservative” AKP (Justice and Development Party or AK Party) supporters, since the pro-government media successfully sold the Hizmet followers as the most dangerous traitors in the country.

Parallel became a trendy word in the period after Dec. 17 and 25. Even a man who shot his wife could blame that "the parallels" had made him do the crime. Aydın Doğan, a boss in the “mainstream” media, was accused of being "parallel." Can Dündar, a well-known secular journalist, was detained for helping the so-called parallel structure. Turkey has become one of world's largest prisons for journalists.

Even shoeboxes were perceived as targeting the government. A woman who displayed a shoebox on her balcony during one of Erdoğan's rallies was quickly taken away for questioning. A shoe market which put shoe boxes on the sidewalk was regarded as challenging to the regime. However, money which was found in shoeboxes -- which the government claimed had been put there by police officers during the corruption scandal -- was given back to the people in whose homes they were found. Additionally, interest for one year was also added to the initial amount.

The word “thief” is also taboo now in Turkey. The word was not even tolerated on the poster of the world famous opera Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. In Turkey this year, the opera play is taking performance under the name “Ali Baba and the 40.” Dozens of people, among them many journalists and young ordinary citizens, have been put on trial for having insulted Erdoğan with this word.

The morality of political Islam has been razed to the ground today with all the “historical” surprising discourses those supporting it have made in the last two years. For example, one man said people's right to commit sin was taken away from them by the graft probes. Another “Islamic” scholar claimed that previous governments had been robbing the country of 80 percent of its wealth and the AKP was just robbing it of 20 percent. Many of the grassroots believed that those in power did rob the country to some extent, but that they also did a public service to the country that should be appreciated.

Turkey has become similar to a nuthouse in the last two years. When tape recordings started to be published on the net, it came out that the plunder had been much deeper than it was thought. The documentation on the plunder showed how a system of robbery had been established decades ago. The guilt was huge; to cover it, the lie should have been even more huge. Thus the country ended up in a system where all governmental institutions were attached to one man and where all criticism would be regarded as treachery. Now we are living through a civil coup period where the civil government has paralyzed all the state systems and has been conducting arbitrary actions in favor of a one-man regime.

Like all other coups, this coup period will also come to an end -- sooner or later -- leaving terrible destruction behind. Then the terms used today will be redefined: parallel, thief, threat, treachery. If treachery could be redefined to betray a country and its citizens, then the biggest traitor would be those who betrayed it most, politically, economically and socially.

Published on Today's Zaman, 21 December 2015, Monday