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July 09, 2012, Monday

Doubts behind releasing coup suspects

Dozens of suspects who stand accused of charges in an ongoing investigation into coup plots, terrorist organizations and criminal gangs have appealed to the relevant courts for their release with the hope of benefitting from a new law enshrined in the third judicial reform package.

Long detention period are one of the chronic problems in Turkey’s judicial system, and many people have welcomed the possibility of releasing certain jailed suspects. On the other hand, people believe that the media and certain political figures, who argue for the release of just the coup suspects, aim to thwart Turkey’s efforts to fight against past coups rather than to draw attention to the excessive detention periods.

Star’s Şamil Tayyar says highly emotional interviews with the families of the jailed suspects have added to the public’s hope that there will be releases in some particular cases. “Those who have remained blind to the tragic life stories of thousands of jailed suspects like Said Nursi and İskilipli Atıf Hoca are now shedding tears over the stories at Silivri Prison. But as the days pass, it becomes more clear that the efforts to release jailed suspects at Silivri Prison are not only for the purpose of emptying the prisons but rather those that vowed to take revenge for the jailing of the coup suspects are simply making preparations for the approaching presidential elections. It is just like the republican rallies that were organized before the 2007 presidential elections to create an atmosphere against the Justice and Development Party [AK Party]. The target is the same now: weakening the AK Party by waging a psychological war that pressures the government to act on their demands,” Tayyar says.

Adem Yavuz Arslan from the Bugün daily makes a similar argument to that of Tayyar, saying that “those who have been making light of coup trials have launched a new smear campaign against the government.” According to Arslan, the campaign has two main discourses. First is that the jailed suspects involved in the Sledgehammer and Ergenekon terrorist organizations and Feb. 28, 1997 coup trials are as pure as the driven snow, and have wrongly been jailed and therefore should be released at once. The second discourse is: “Today we have a powerful ruling party that has received half of the votes. And the public is more aware [of the dangers of coups]. There cannot be any coup or illegal organization within the state from now on. So let’s release the coup suspects in jails and have peace.” Although these discourses may sound reasonable to some, there is no doubt that the only aim is to topple the AK Party and nothing more.

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