EKREM DUMANLI

It is not about Article 250, it is all about egalitarian democracy

The projected changes to the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK) raised serious concerns. People from all backgrounds are worried about the process. You might have already read the objections in the papers raised by the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) deputy Prof. Dr. Burhan Kuzu, who is also the president of the parliamentary Constitutional Commission.

The professor raises a strong question, “What would you do after abolishing the special courts?” recalling the coup and junta cases and investigations, he further draws attention to the chaotic situation given that these cases may be handed to regular courts.

Kuzu is right in his concern and he isn’t alone. Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek raised some serious concerns in a statement, “When complaining about something, you have to consider the repercussions associated with its abolishment.” The opinion piece that AK Party deputy Şamil Tayyar wrote for Star Daily should be considered carefully. The concern referred to by journalists Sibel Erarslan and Nazlı Ilıcak should be taken seriously. Why? Many coups have been staged in this country, but they have gone unpunished, neither politics nor law sufficed. The military issued many memorandums and warnings, but they were not even called to the police station for a statement. Thousands of unidentified murders have been committed and the perpetrators have not been brought to justice. Provocations were staged to call for a military coup; nobody stopped them.

The prosecution of juntas, coups and mafias require special prosecution skills and authorities. Besides, it was not possible to bring some circles of power to justice by reliance on ordinary measures. The Ergenekon investigation has been a crucial turning point for our legal history and democracy. Those did not respond to Parliament’s call to account for their actions up until recently, have finally been brought to justice and interrogated. The became informed about a number of issues including the bombs seized in Ümraniye, ammunitions in Eskişehir and the light anti-tank weapons (LAW) in Poyrazköy as well as the arms depot in Ankara. The information collected and the documents seized in the legal searches revealed that we have lived under the shadow of a number of coup plans and attempts. We also realized from the documents seized in Gölcük that the junta working for a Baath-like dictatorship has made enormous progress. The trial process and investigations based on all the information and documents have made an advance. For instance, the Balyoz case is nearing the end. However, the Balyoz suspects have tried everything to delay the judicial process almost as if they did not complain about the prolonged detention periods. The Ergenekon case is also coming to a close. The Zirve trial looking into the case of the non-Muslim citizen murdered in Malatya is making rapid progress.

At this stage, some reports were leaked on the fate of the special courts. Interestingly, this information was first publicized by remarks made by the coup suspects, “We will be released within a few months; we will initiate a process of confrontation that will involve even their children.” The AK Party deputies and even the ministers first said that they did not know anything about the matter. Behind the scenes, they even said they believed that kind of thing was extremely unlikely.

In a TV show airing on ATV, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stressed that they would keep fighting the coups. However, he also strongly criticized the role of the special prosecutors in the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) crisis. There is no problem so far. Many agree that it was wrong to summon the MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan. For this reason, the criticism that the legal amendment is being made to save one specific person did not attract support when the relevant bill was amended. However, there is something that needs to be underlined here. The sphere of prior authorization from the prime minister before initiation of prosecution vis-à-vis top level bureaucrats should not be expanded extensively; this sphere should not be expanded to a level that would undermine the principle of equality under the constitution. Sadly, Turkey has experienced extensive pains. Some people enjoying protection by the state have done horrible things in illegal operations. The wounds these operations created are still bleeding.

Further mistakes should not be made when correcting previous ones. Of course, the special courts have some flaws that need to be addressed. Any regulation that would undermine the ongoing junta investigation and efforts to fight organized crime, will serve to encourage the elements that threaten democracy and will weaken any attempts to deal with these issues. Prior authorization may be made a requirement; however, any expansion of the sphere of this authorization may create untouchable groups. The creation of a privileged group of people vis-à-vis the judicial process, just because they hold top positions in the state apparatus at a time when even the parliamentary immunity is being discussed, may lead to serious repercussions. The arguments raised by some friends that the judiciary will protect democracy refer to either lack of proper knowledge on the matter or unfamiliarity with the realities of the country. Of course, the judiciary alone will not protect democracy. Above all, a number of factors including the independent will of the people, the election of Parliament based on this will and the proper utilization of all democratic mechanisms should be present so that democracy can progress and become consolidated.

This is the case in all democratic countries in the world. In a country where many coups have been staged and juntas are still active, the justice mechanism should perform its mission properly so that the performance of other democratic elements will work out. If the judiciary is disabled from taking action against groups pointing a gun at their people and nationals, who will do that? There is no meaning in avoiding the realities by making reference to a new Turkey. What really matters is to ensure that anti-democratic interventions will not be staged anymore, and to build a democratic state based on the rule of law.


A new Susurluk; a new Habur

The Susurluk accident, in which Nationalist leader Abdullah Çatlı, Alawi Police Chief Hüseyin Kocadağ and True Path Party (DYP) Deputy Sedat Bucak were found dead in a Mercedes car, raised hopes that some illegalities would be illuminated The people thought that the intricate relations of the deep state would be publicized and tactics of psychological warfare would be revealed. Sadly, this did not happen. First, the deep state manipulated the Susurluk protests. The reaction, which initially started as a protest against the deep-state entities, transformed into an operation to topple the Welfare Party (RP) government. And then, the Susurluk investigation was undermined. How?

Let us hear Susurluk suspect Ayhan Çarkın: “There was a panel of judges that reviewed our case for three and a half year headed by Judge Sedat Karagül. I saw justice in this man. And then this panel was removed, being replaced by another one appointed by the Mesut Yılmaz government. We were sentenced to four years. However, we were being tried for something bigger [in the first judicial review].”

If the draft on Article 250 of the CMK, leaked to the media, is true, the coup investigations will be undermined. There is no other explanation for this. For this reason, the people insisting on fight against the organized gangs are concerned. First, all top-level bureaucrats may use the special authorization as a shield. Second, the ongoing investigations may be undermined by this new bill. This is why the supporters of Ergenekon have appealed to the political administration and the prime minister. In case the concerns held by the democrat circles prove to be right, a new Habur syndrome will await the government. A march from Silivri to Parliament, accompanied by the chanting of slogans will be the end of the fight against coups and juntas. This is the main concern. Otherwise, it is not our business whether this article replaces another. The technical aspect of the issue does not matter at all. What really matters is whether there is a reversal of the struggle against the deep state; when the matter on Article 250 becomes clear we will be able to see the truth.


Panorama

Some of the actions of the judiciary are being strongly criticized, and most of the time, they need to be criticized. However, sometimes the attitude against the judiciary varies depending on the party or the individual. For instance, a bill has been drafted to abolish the immunity of eight deputies including Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Co-Chairman Selahattin Demirtaş for being members of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK). There is no objection from those who strongly criticized the decisions and actions of the judiciary before. However, this is a great mistake. This step by the judiciary is just improper and wrong while there are serious steps being taken to resolve the Kurdish issue. Would not these same circles raise serious objections in case the bill had been drafted for other deputies? Under the new judicial reform package, the punishments and sentences for the journalists are augmented. Why? This is being done because they published some voice recordings and offered interpretations on these recordings. I asked the prime minister about this on a TV program on ATV. He said, “I have no knowledge on the matter.” If this is the case, who has been working on this draft bill for months despite strong objections? And why are the potential repercussions not considered?

Recently, former MİT Executive Mehmet Eymür said there were a number of journalists working for the MİT. The Turkish media did not take this remark seriously. Maybe they could not. However, many journalists are able to write on the special courts and the PKK in a way that involves the MİT as well. In this case, you cannot help thinking, “Who is an insider and who is not?” It is not easy to figure out who is writing at the request or instructions of the agency without knowing which journalists receive payments from the intelligence agency in return for their service as agents.

2012-06-10