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December 02, 2009, Wednesday

Expect no improvement from YARSAV

I have adopted a cautious pessimism in assessing the change of presidency of the Judges and Prosecutors Association (YARSAV) and noted that freshly elected President Emine Ülker Tarhan might compensate for the damage done to the image of the association.The perception that the association is still acting under the shadow of former President Ömer Faruk Eminağaoğlu and that nothing has changed will marginalize it. Unfortunately, ongoing developments seem to confirm my concerns.

YARSAV took the side of the Council of State with respect to the coefficient debates. This is understandable. What has made the people think that the association is haunted by the ghost of Eminağaoğlu is not the support it lent to the Council of State, but its insistence on assuming the same style or manner with respect to the incidents. The written statement was obviously prepared by Eminağaoğlu. I think there are two reasons why he did not choose to make a verbal statement, something he has done many times before. First, he may not be able to make a public appearance as he has been unable to recover from the election defeat. Second, it is possible that he wanted to avoid the unfavorable imagery caused by his angry gestures and facial expressions which tended to complement his verbal statements.

In any case, we are really more interested in the content than the form of the statement. YARSAV has given the message that it will continue to engage in polemics with the political power. They intend to maintain the attitude which has led to the criticism that they are “acting more like a political party or a main opposition party than a profession-related organization.” If this is the case, why did they remove Eminağaoğlu from office and continue a shadow play? He might well continue to act in this way openly.

If the will of the members and the executive board is meaningless, why did they play the democracy game and hold elections? Referring to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement regarding YARSAV’s stance on the Council of State’s Wednesday decision to retain a university admission system that makes it more difficult for graduates of vocational schools to enroll in a program of their choice, labeling the decision “ideological,” they say: “It is the expression of anger stemming from his failure to create a dependent judiciary on the one hand, and of the conscientious efforts to shake the society’s confidence in judicial organs on the other.” Such harsh ultimatums are not issued even by opposition parties. If I am not wrong, former Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin had defined them as “YARSAP,” standing for the Judges and Prosecutors Party. Everyone is free to establish a political party and engage in political competition. They are free to go. But it is wrong to pretend to be a professional organization but then act as a political party. Indeed, given the respect they have for their own ballot boxes and the preferences of their members, mine is an unfounded expectation. The most unusual part of YARSAV’s statement is this: “The attitudes of party representatives are shaped by their ideology.” What is more natural than political parties shaping their attitudes according to their ideologies?

The phrases in the statement referring to the Council of State attack are gruesome in the name of the rule of law. It is hair-raising that an association which claims to be a professional organization of judges and prosecutors can utter this sentence concerning the Council of State attack: “The memories of sad and atrocious incidents that occurred due to judges and prosecutors being made target by similar statements and by certain media organizations in the past are still fresh. Still, there is an insistence on maintaining their wrong attitudes.”

Those who wrote this statement continue to voice old conspiracies about the Council of State attack. They tend to turn a blind eye to the developments that have happened since then. How can they think that there are still people who believe in these stories? Let us reiterate for those with a poor memory: Based on emerging evidence, it was decided that defendants in the trial concerning the Council of State attack should be re-tried and that this trial should be merged with the trial of Ergenekon. The Supreme Court of Appeals, which quashed the decision, and a local court that accepted the Supreme Court of Appeals’ ruling took into consideration that the Council of State attack was conducted by Ergenekon, which has been indicted for being a terrorist organization. Why YARSAV should continue to voice conspiracies that are not believed by the general public and the judiciary is meaningful.

Claiming that the prime minister’s statement may affect ongoing litigation, YARSAV is attempting to teach us law. But the above-mentioned excerpts from YARSAV’s statement concerning the Council of State attack fall into the same category. It does not hesitate to intervene in an ongoing criminal trial as it rushes to teach Erdoğan the law.