Special courts

Different statements by the government are not sufficient to make a clear comment »»

Different statements by the government are not sufficient to make a clear comment on the future of the special courts. There are no clear answers to the questions as to whether these courts will be completely abolished, if their powers will be restricted and if such restrictions take place, what the scope will be and on what basis these restrictions will be introduced.

However, it seems that the view the prime minister has expressed in relation to the future of these courts will be determinative in the decisions of the government on that matter. The decision by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) at this critical juncture is not normal. Replacement of the judges and prosecutors who are serving in the most critical cases appears to be result of the attempt of the political administration to show its influence in the recent process rather than of the initiative of the HSYK. This decision could be seen as an attempt to send a message or strong signal to the judges and prosecutors serving in critical cases and investigations including Ergenekon and Sledgehammer (Balyoz).

Reassignment of the judges and prosecutors who have worked tirelessly to collect evidence, draft indictments and initiate investigations and prosecutions in such delicate cases will raise doubts as to whether this is an assertion to have the final word on the process by the political administration.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government does not have the right to weaken the Ergenekon process, ignore the people who have supported them because of its struggle against this clandestine entity, overlook the demands and requests of the victims who seek justice and to introduce some legal changes that would erode the whole process.

At a time when the people in this country believe that everything is moving towards normalization, hold strong views and sentiments that the struggle with the military tutelage will remain influential and that the culprits will not go unpunished, starting discussions on the special courts would serve the interests of the Ergenekon Front.

The Ergenekon Front has tirelessly campaigned to undermine these investigations. The main opposition party extended support to these campaigns. This support was so visible and strong that Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said, “Identify this Ergenekon organization so that I can become a member.” Mehmet Haberal, prosecuted for life in prison, was elected deputy from the list of this party. Strong propaganda was staged to ensure that the sphere of the investigation would not be expanded to cover other parts of Turkey.

Efforts were made to ensure that the Kurds of the AKP would remain silent vis-à-vis the activities of Ergenekon in the eastern part of Turkey, whereas other attempts were made to exclude the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Kurds from the process. Some of the Ergenekon suspects were responsible for extrajudicial killings in the 1990s; no legal case has been filed against them for the purpose of investigating these crimes. Pro-Ergenekon circles have taken their activities to undermine the whole process to Europe and even to the US.

However, their appeals to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) have remained inconclusive; the European court dismissed their allegations and ruled against the applicants.

Nowhere in the world has the investigation of past crimes and the delivery of justice been left to the conjectural discretion of the government.

It appears that the AKP government holds that the era of military guardianship and the coups is over. If this is the case and they believe that they have attained their goals, they should express this. The government is unable to say that this is it, and for this reason, it fails to make a statement to ensure that the Ergenekon process will be expanded to cover other parts of the country.

This government has never been eager to investigate the crimes and activities of the gangs and clandestine organizations created within the state and the military with regard to the Kurdish issue. The dossiers of JITEM -- an illegal unit established inside the gendarmerie to fight separatist terrorism -- cases in Diyarbakır are all about news reports. No additional evidence has been included. No serious and strong investigation has been initiated in these cases.

Part of the media was eager to ensure that the special courts would be successful in the struggle with the coup organizations alone. But this sensitivity was not out there when it came to the JITEM and Susurluk murders.

The same media now tries to prove that these courts have created domestic enemies. Human rights advocates, respected lawyers and others who have been targeted by Ergenekon in the past now argue that these courts are dysfunctional. They equate these courts to the martial courts set up in the early republican years.

I have nothing to say to describe this tendency and change of attitude in response to the requests and preferences of the political administration.