Prime minister’s inconsistencies raise eyebrows


Date posted: February 4, 2014

ANKARA

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan frequently alludes to how he is a politician who stands behind his words and how what he has done in the past is an assurance of what he will do in the future, but there has been so much variance in the discourse of Turkey’s leader that it has become difficult not to question the truth as he sees it.

Distortions of the truth and outright lies by Erdoğan regarding the economy, the Gezi protests, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), prosecutors and investigations by prosecutors, the graft investigation and the Hizmet movement are some of what is making Erdoğan’s rhetoric questionable.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin says that Erdoğan relies on a policy of tension and polarization and is always telling lies when utilizing this policy. He says: “The prime minister bases his strategy on the management of perceptions. He distorts things, provokes people and makes accusations.” He adds that Prime Minister Erdoğan did the same thing during the Gezi Park protests, which began in May 2013 in opposition to government plans to demolish a public park.

Citing rumors that Gezi protesters had been drinking alcohol inside a mosque, Tekin says: “Unfortunately, Erdoğan frequently relies on such lies. … He lied when he said that people had been drinking beer inside a mosque. He wanted to prove his allegation and provoke the public by gaining the support of the imam of the mosque. He told lies even though this would mean social turmoil in Turkey. He lied when he said he was unable to keep the 50 percent of people [who voted for him] in their homes [and away from the protesters]. Further polarization was prevented by the mosque’s imam. He was kept under police custody for eight hours so that he would make a statement confirming Erdoğan’s allegations; he did not support Erdoğan’s lies.”

Tekin pinpointed other situations in which Erdoğan had lied during the Gezi protests, bringing up the prime minister’s claim that a woman wearing a headscarf was badly beaten by 150 protesters. Tekin calls this plain provocation. He also stressed that no single piece of evidence has been presented so far regarding the alleged attack. “He manipulates perceptions by resorting to lies and defamatory remarks. And then he fabricates controversies and discussions to make sure that these lies go unremembered. How can a prime minister rely on polarizing lies and the extreme discourse of hatred? It is really difficult to understand. He is either experiencing difficulties covering up corruption or he needs serious medical attention. Or maybe both,” Tekin says.

Lies about judicial processes

Prime Minister Erdoğan has told even more lies since the Dec. 17 corruption investigation, and they mostly deal with the judiciary.

Here are some of those lies:

Lie 1: The HSYK made a statement when it shouldn’t have.

Truth 1: After the Dec. 17 operation, the justice and interior ministries issued a law enforcement directive to make it obligatory for the police to notify their superiors before the investigation. A legal process was initiated at the Council of State against this, and the HSYK spoke against it. This made the board a target of the prime minister. However, after constitutional amendments in 2010, the HSYK acquired the power to make such statements. In the days that followed, Prime Minister Erdoğan made no other comment arguing that the HSYK made an illegal or unauthorized statement.

Lie 2: In the second corruption operation, prosecutors demanded the arrest of suspects without even opening 25 sealed bags of evidence.

Truth 2: Retired prosecutor Sacit Kayasu made the following statement concerning claims that prosecutor Muammer Akkaş — who conducted a second operation on Dec. 25 — did not open the evidence bags: “If a prosecutor does not open [evidence] bags, then just exactly what does he do? In the 40 years at my profession, I’d never heard such a thing. It is a grave accusation being directed at a prosecutor. Politicians are free to talk, journalists are free to talk, but it seems that prosecutors cannot [defend themselves].”

Lie 3: “Why would a prosecutor go abroad 22 times in one year?” Erdoğan asked, implying that prosecutor Zekeriya Öz was corrupt.

Truth 3: The total number of international flights that all people in Turkey named Zekeriya Öz took was 22. After the prime minister accused Öz of not being on business during those trips, papers close to the government launched a lynching campaign. The Sabah daily published reports saying that prosecutor Öz was on a safari; he was actually at a ceremony in a Turkish courthouse. Some even argued that his vacation to Dubai was paid by Turkish businessman Ali Ağaoğlu. However, it later became evident that the documents claiming Ağaoğlu funded Öz were fake and that the details did not match up.

Lie 4: Prosecutors are conducting investigations secretly. They did not enter details in the National Judiciary Network Project (UYAP) system or notify the chief prosecutor.

Truth 4: The prime minister argued that the corruption and bribery investigations were conducted secretly and that they did not notify state institutions of the operation. However, it became evident that the police conducting the investigation referred the case to the Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) and that the board drafted a report on the allegations two months before the operation. Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek also confirmed that 38 notices of suspicious activities in gold transactions were forwarded to MASAK. In addition, it was found that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had notified authorities eight months before the operation, saying that Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab had business connections with some ministers. The investigation was also recorded in the UYAP system with the following numbers: 2012/50690, 2012/125043 and 2012/120653.

Lie 5: This is a judicial coup, not a corruption investigation.

Truth 5: As part of the operation initiated by Prime Minister Erdoğan to change public perception, some Justice and Development Party (AK Party) administrators and pro-government media figures insisted that the investigation was a judicial coup. Erdoğan, who initially argued that the Hizmet movement had seized control within the judiciary, said during a parliamentary group meeting on Jan. 28 that control of the judiciary had been taken by some figures within the body. He implied that part of the judiciary had submitted to some clandestine groups and asked whether they could make decisions on behalf of the nation. With this statement, he actually withdrew his allegation that the judiciary was seized by the Hizmet movement. İzmir Chief Prosecutor Hüseyin Baş even said, “I have no affiliation with the Hizmet movement; I am a prosecutor of the republican regime.”

Lies about economy

Lie 6: The police operation targeted Halkbank. An operation was staged against this public bank.

Truth 6: In a corporate statement by Halkbank, this allegation was dismissed. The bank stated that there was no ongoing investigation into its corporate activities. Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan also noted that the bank’s confidential information was not leaked.

Lie 7: The operation was sponsored by global powers in order to take down Turkey.

Truth 7: On different occasions, the prime minister argued that the Dec. 17 investigation was an operation sponsored by global powers rather than a corruption operation. He also argued that this operation was staged to ensure that Turkey would not achieve its goal of becoming one of the top 10 economies in the world. However, the corruption allegations involving Ağaoğlu and Zarrab were previously published in the Yeni Şafak and Akşam dailies. Yeni Şafak announced on July 18, 2011, that there were allegations that Ağaoğlu had given bribes and it published a story on July 12, 2013, that there was, in fact, documentation of such a bribe. Akşam also drew attention to Zarrab’s illegal activities involving Iran on Jan. 7, 2013.

Lie 8: Some ambassadors committed “provocative” acts.

Truth 8: On Dec. 21, papers close to the government ran headlines arguing that US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone, who had met with a group of EU envoys at a dinner on Dec. 17, told the envoys that they would all soon be seeing the collapse of an empire, allegedly referring to the operation against Halkbank. Erdoğan, who that same day addressed the public in Samsun, argued that some ambassadors were committing some “provocative acts.” The US Embassy in Ankara dismissed the allegations saying that the US has nothing to do with the ongoing corruption allegations, such a meeting was not held and the allegations are totally ungrounded and unsubstantiated. In its own statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that they found the US Embassy’s statement to be sufficient.

Lies about Hizmet movement

Lie 9: “Parallel structure” threatens all via blackmail.

Truth 9: The prime minister, who has made constant accusations against the Hizmet movement, argued two years ago that his conversations were being wiretapped. This allegation still remains unresolved, despite the fact that it could have been since state resources are available. Allegations by newspapers close to the government saying that the Hizmet movement wiretapped talks and conversations at the National Police Department and the terrace of the Court of Appeals were not proven. It became evident that there was no device for wiretapping hidden in these buildings.

Lie 10: Deputy prime minister threatened with blackmail.

Truth 10: In a statement to the press on his way back from Brussels in January , Erdoğan, in reference to a fake tape of AK Party Deputy Chairmain Numan Kurtulmuş , said: “They [Hİzmet] are threatening everyone through blackmail. They did the same to my deputy prime minister.” Erdoğan, who turned harsh criticism against the Hizmet movement into hate speech, has failed to provide evidence for his allegations. In addition, the tape of Kurtulmuş was a product of intraparty competition for control and prestige within the AK Party.

Lie 11: The Fethullah Gülen “damnation” lie.

Truth 11: During his public rallies, Prime Minister Erdoğan attempted to shape public perception to believe that Fethullah Gülen had damned him and his government. However, the case was not so. Gülen, in response to slanderous remarks and defamatory statements being made against him and members of the movement, resorted to mubahalah, an Islamic method of settlement recommended by Prophet Muhammad. With mubahalah, if two sides can’t settle an argument, then they start to pray to God for truth to be revealed through a cursing befalling the wrong side. The first part of Gülen‘s words were ignored and his words were distorted. There is an interesting contradiction here. Erdoğan, who accused Gülen of using damning words, actually relied on this very method during his rallies. After this became apparent, Erdoğan stopped utilizing this move.

Truck search

Lie 12: “Parallel structure” stops and searches trucks heading to Syria.

Truth 12: Searches on trucks heading to Syria under MİT’s control made Erdoğan angry and upset. Speaking to journalists before his trip to Brussels on Jan. 20, Erdoğan said: “A prosecutor cannot search [those] trucks without my permission or without notifying the Justice Ministry. He cannot investigate what MİT is carrying. This is another version of the parallel structure.” Lawyers stressed that a prosecutor is obligated to take action upon receiving a notice. Under the law, the prime minister’s authorization is only sought during future phases of an investigation.

Source: Todays Zaman , February 3, 2014


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