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May 31, 2012, Thursday

New trap for the AK Party?

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that the Ministry of Justice has been working on legal amendments in four packages, including an amendment to Article 250 of the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK).

Erdoğan’s statement was in response to a question by a journalist who asked: “Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım made a statement that there was an instruction by you to work on an amendment to Article 250 of the CMK. This amendment envisages the release of 800 inmates who are in jail in connection with the Balyoz, KCK [Kurdistan Communities Union] and other investigations. Will there be an amendment to Article 250?”

There have been some criticisms that the ongoing Ergenekon, Balyoz and KCK trials have been prolonged and that the lengthy arrests have hurt the image of the judicial system. These criticisms are actually grounded in terms of law -- the trials determine who is guilty of coup attempts, and declaring those suspects in jail guilty in advance and acting on revengeful sentiments cannot be acceptable.

However, there have been efforts by the media to express discomfort with the ongoing coup trials, the Sept. 12, 1980 coup trial and the Feb. 28, 1997 coup investigation, to undermine these cases and investigations and raise doubts in the minds of the people. Neo-nationalist members of the Bar have also resorted to similar tactics; there has been visible political pressure in these processes. It is interesting to note that two admirals, who are currently under arrest in connection with the Balyoz investigation, said in voice recordings that they would be released within a year via a legal amendment. In addition, their reference to civil war which would include children, provoking an economic crisis and destruction, as well as preparations for revenge could be seen as evidence of pro-junta actors and views within the military, despite all prior measures and efforts to eliminate them. We observe that the pro-junta mentality did not learn a lesson; on the contrary, they are now even more eager to fulfill their vicious goals.

The era of coups cannot be ended by coup trials alone. The juntas which first emerged within the army during the May 27, 1960 coup will not go away all of a sudden. The question now is: Has the pro-junta structure within the military been eliminated, or does it still exist, having retreated and adopted a silent approach all the while?

In case the draft bills that the prime minister referred to are passed as laws that could encourage the junta and pro-guardianship figures, the democratization efforts supported by the people in the referendum will be weakened -- this should be clear to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) administration.

There are some news reports indicating that the military bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defense are working to ensure the adoption of these bills in favor of the Balyoz suspects. These reports suggest that the military bureaucrats who drafted the report that contradicted the Ministry of Justice on promoting the Balyoz case suspects during the Supreme Military Council in 2010 were working hard and meticulously for a fine-tuned document. It was also argued that this draft will be referred to the relevant parliamentary commission as though it were from the Ministry of Defense.

I do not think that the AK Party will become more lenient towards the junta and guardianship. But for those who are curious about the abilities and talents of the junta figures, the memoirs of former Chief of General Staff Gen. Rüştü Erdelhun which were published by the Zaman daily shed some light.

“A junta is poisoned blood, and as long as it circulates through the veins of the body of the military, you cannot predict when it will disrupt the body of the nation. True, some significant steps towards democratization are being taken but there are still no permanent attempts to remove the regime of guardianship. An extraordinary situation may revive the former process which seemed to be over. Provocations, additional extrajudicial killings, anarchy in universities and emerging chaos may catch the current administration unprepared. The pro-junta figures always remain alert.”

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