When lawlessness becomes a way of life

Lale Kemal
Lale Kemal


Date posted: March 3, 2014

LALE KEMAL

The Turkish judiciary had long been kept under the control of the military-led establishment as a means of maintaining the status quo and thereby silencing those groups or citizens who expressed their dissatisfaction with the then-existing order.

Thus, Turkey badly needed a change in its judicial system from top to bottom so that it could be brought up to the standards of democratic states where the supremacy of the rule of law is in place, protecting its citizens against unlawful acts. A referendum held in 2010 for various constitutional changes that included amendments to the state-controlled judiciary was approved by more than 50 percent of the voters, paving the way for the installation of a judiciary that was relatively more independent and less under the influence of the executive branch.

Turkey still has a long way to go to turn the judiciary into an independent and impartial body. The Turkish government, which itself initiated the process to make the judiciary more independent and impartial with the 2010 referendum, lately took legal steps that have returned the judiciary to the full control of the executive branch. Everyone knows the reason for this drastic change, which means usurping the rights of citizens in order to protect the government from any judicial scrutiny. It was done to prevent last year’s Dec. 17 corruption and bribery investigation from proceeding, as it allegedly involved Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself, as well as his son and some other family members.

After a government-controlled judicial system was reinstalled, Reza Zarrab, an Iranian national who acquired Turkish citizenship and gained fame in Turkey as a businessman with billions of dollars at the age of only 29, was released from jail pending trial in the corruption case along with the sons of two Cabinet ministers on Feb. 28. Their release came despite strong evidence that suggests they had a hand in unlawful activities, including the discovery of large sums of money concealed in their homes.

Now that a judicial system that is subservient to the executive branch has been set up, there are no obstacles left to prevent Erdoğan and his family members from escaping any possible interrogation over their alleged involvement in the graft scandal.

Yet, as Turkish history has illustrated, sooner or later those accused of corruption or staging coups or making coup plans will be held accountable for their involvement in any unlawful act.

Erdoğan, meanwhile, is also resorting to a tactic of picking a fight with others to escape justice.

Erdoğan, in a mood that is a mixture of panic and anger, has increased his dose of insults directed at the Gülen movement. He accuses the Hizmet movement headed by Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen which, until recently, he was allied with, of orchestrating the graft probe in cooperation with what he terms “international circles.” He also accused the movement of being behind several recent audio recordings posted on various social media networks that disclosed several conversations allegedly between himself and his son Bilal Erdoğan discussing how to get rid of large sums of money cached in their homes and those of their relatives.

It may be a coincidence, but Feb. 28, the day that Zarrab and the other suspects in the probe were released from jail, is the date of the Feb. 28 postmodern coup 17 years ago. Two years later, Fethullah Gülen left the country for the US out of fear of being put in jail by the architects of Feb. 28 postmodern coup.

The fact that the release of the suspects and the postmodern coup that eventually led Gülen to leave the country took place on the same date also sends a message to Gülen from the government that, among other things, “If you happen to come to Turkey you will be put in prison, since it is me now who controls everything, including the judiciary.”

The Turkish government has finally come to a point of using the same methods that the military tutelage system often resorted to by giving legal cover to its unlawful acts.

Despite local media reports that the Turkish government will seek to extradite Gülen from the US, the possibility that the US will hand him over to Turkey is nonexistent unless he murders someone. In the eyes of the US, Gülen is a legal resident and he has the right to reside permanently in the US.

Going back to my earlier point of the government making drastic changes to the judiciary that brought it under its full control, this measure was followed by an Internet law cementing censorship. And now, amendments are to be made to the law regarding the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to increase its ability to conduct surveillance on those with opposing views.

None of these legal changes were made for either institutional independence or democratic oversight. They were implemented to prevent any action on the graft probe from proceeding.

Source: Todays Zaman , March 3, 2014


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