HÜSEYİN GÜLERCE

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HÜSEYİN GÜLERCE
June 05, 2012, Tuesday

Democracy, not ‘The community,’ will be undermined

For the first time, I sense concern amongst the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) support base. The statements and remarks suggesting that the special courts will be abolished raises question on where the AK Party is headed.

In particular, the statement made by Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ that there is no room for special courts in a democratic state is alarming. What kind of statement is this? It was the AK Party that created these institutions in place of state security courts to fulfill EU membership requirements. These special courts have been in operation since 2005, and if these courts are not consistent with the law, then who has violated the law over the past seven years? Does Bozdağ now confirm the Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s argument?

We have to take the criticisms by those who note that something has happened to the AK Party seriously. I have not clarified my stance and view on this matter yet. Instead of questioning the sincerity of the prime minister and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, I’d rather question myself. But I also believe that the AK Party needs to be more self-critical.

Let us recall why the AK Party won three consecutive elections. When the party came to power after the Nov 3, 2002 elections, it spoke to the needs and expectations of the people. The reasons why the people supported this party include the following: 1. Turks had been seriously affected by the economic crisis and corruption. 2. The Feb 28 process had undermined democracy and political institutions and democracy needed a boost. 3. Freedoms and rights had been seriously restricted. 4. Some decisions, such as the headscarf ban, that were made by the YAŞ and some other institutions had offended pious people. 5. Media outlets that supported the military and its guardianship regime were not tolerated by the people any more.

The summary of all of these is that Turks wanted a transparent administration based on the rule of law and asked for an expansion of the sphere of freedoms, effective measures against gangs within the state and prosecution of pro-junta and pro-coup figures.

The AK Party attracted the support of the people because of its intention and determination to honor these demands and desires. Some progress was made in this regard and the majority of people appreciated the AK Party’s determination and efforts in dealing with the mafias, gangs and coup attempts. In particular, their strong stance vis-à-vis the April 27 e-memorandum was significant and spoke to the hearts of the people. Their victimization during the party dissolution case touched the hearts and minds of the people. As a result, the AK Party garnered 58 percent of the votes in the Sept 12, 2010 referendum and 50 percent during the June 12, 2011 elections.

Now what has happened to make the AK Party administrators behave differently? The AK Party calls the courts that it created illegal. What happened, how did it happen and why did it happen?

Remarkable steps have been taken towards democratization over the last decade but dramatic changes are still needed to deal with the guardianship regime. The anti-democratic institutions set up in the aftermath of Sept 12 coup are still alive. Attempts by those who want to remain immune to prosecution are still overlooked. Even Article 35 of the internal service law of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is still in effect. Some are really disturbed by the threats made by the Balyoz case suspects which call for a civil war and strong revenge. But don’t these individuals pose a threat to democracy? Why are they so confident? Did a new junta emerge while they were in jail? Shouldn’t we worry about this?

We have not become fully democratic; doesn’t the government need to remain alert and cautious? Should we not worry that democratic progress that we’ve made so far might be halted?

I find it difficult to remain tolerant of those who try to link this whole issue to the Gülen movement. It is like they are accusing the movement of every single negative development in the country. However, in that case, the country will lose; the nation will lose. Should we ring a siren to indicate that democracy is in jeopardy?

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