Tape politics


Date posted: April 28, 2014

EKREM DUMANLI

There are frequent claims that there is a secret recording of someone and that this recording is being used by the so-called parallel structure. And these are made publicly. Previously, similar remarks were made about some politicians, media bosses and even the president. The argument was that there were recordings of these figures and that these tapes were being kept secretly.

Last week, the prime minister added two new names to this allegation: President Abdullah Gül and the chief of General Staff. Interestingly, he had previously made a similar allegation about the president, but it was politely dismissed by Gül. The prime minister has now included the chief of General Staff on the list.

So are these allegations true? If they are, then doesn’t the prime minister — the head of the executive branch and of the political authority — have to prove this allegation? Is it responsible for those who should be acting responsibly to make such baseless allegations?

It is useful to bring up past incidents and developments to better understand the whole issue: Recordings depicting seven Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputies in improper situations had been leaked onto the Internet. Despite the fact that it has been three years since the incident, the perpetrators have still not been identified. Many allegations have been made but the government, which was supposed to address this issue, failed to resolve even one single incident out of these seven. Is it impossible to identify at least one? Or let me ask another question: Would it be possible to continue to rely on this disgusting politics of recordings if one single culprit had been identified?

What about the recording of Deniz Baykal, after which he had to resign as the Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader? Baykal was trapped; his recordings were posted on a video-sharing Internet site and then leaked onto an Internet portal known to be an affiliate of the pro-government Akit daily. The prime minister extensively used these tapes back then. In response to cautions that this was a private matter and that it would not be proper to use them for political purposes, he said during political rallies that the tapes were usable because they were relevant to the public interest rather than being private.

Time has passed and these tapes are now being used to stage a lynching campaign against the Hizmet movement. When this campaign was initiated, the so-called parallel structure was blamed for fabricating this whole recoding incident. Quite rightly, Baykal asked for concrete evidence and information and further blamed the government because the state should have resolved this incident. Without taking this warning and call into account, the prime minister continued to blame the Hizmet movement.

A few days before the local elections, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu argued that Erdoğan had watched Baykal’s tape and that Kılıçdaroğlu had a recording of this as well. Photos indicating that Erdoğan had actually watched Baykal’s tapes before they were leaked onto the Internet were then released. Erdoğan has not made any concrete or convincing statement about these photos which were posted shortly before the elections.

Baykal was right. However, the continuation of the discussion was hurting his image and so he would not take any further action. The tape incident would certainly have been resolved with a serious investigation. Unfortunately, this was not done. What has been done instead? The victims of the recordings were denigrated and millions of innocent people were blamed for this disgusting plot.

The bugging device incident is no different than this. Someone placed a bugging device to wiretap the prime minister in a room that was being placed under constant surveillance. What is easier than catching the perpetrators behind this? Who entered and left the room should have been recorded. This incident took place in 2011 but as of now, this still remains unresolved and the Hizmet movement is being blamed for it. It has also become evident that there are attempts to tamper with the evidence. An officer who worked in the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) for 24 years indicated that he was expected to change the date that the bugging device was activated. In other words, he was asked to tamper with the evidence. This confession shows that the real goal is to manage perceptions rather than identifying the culprits.

Last week, the prime minister further argued that there was a recording of the Doğan Group as well. In a right move, the group noted that it would adhere to its principles and would not bow to blackmail, also asking the prime minister to prove the allegation. Similar allegations were also made about other media outlets. No proof has been offered since then. The same method was employed against the Constitutional Court, which was criticized by the government for its independent and pro-freedom judgments. The prime minister recently argued that the Constitutional Court had also been wiretapped. Any evidence? Of course, there is no concrete information or proof this time as well.

Apparently, a new style of tape politics has been designed somewhere in Ankara. They just make up allegations about a person or a group which they want to take to their side and accuse the Hizmet movement of being behind the plot. As part of the same tactic, the government media has argued that 7,000 people had been wiretapped and published a list of these people. There are now doubts that a similar scenario is being practiced by the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) as well.

My thoughts on this matter are clear: It is a dishonorable act to wiretap people by illegal means or make recordings of people’s private lives and to use them for blackmailing purposes, and whoever does this should surrender to the law. But it is also dishonorable to blame a group of people without offering concrete evidence or proof. It is not consistent with the ethics of politics as well. If lies are being told about such recordings even on sacred days and public allegations are made stressing that there are recordings of the president and the chief of General Staff without offering any concrete evidence, then there is something seriously wrong. Everybody should ask the prime minister to back up his allegation or to remain silent. Otherwise, just as how making such recordings is a horrible act, using them for political manipulation is also a huge responsibility.

Attacking Haşim Kılıç

A recent speech by Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç has attracted a great deal of attention. We actually realize that the remarks made in his speech refer to universal law if we put aside daily developments and the pessimistic environment. However, it is not easy to speak in such hard times when politics has been trying to take everything and everyone hostage by violating the boundaries of democracy. It requires knowledge and courage. It is truly a courageous act to refer to rights, legality and universal principles at a time when people serving as statesmen praise their bosses and their superiors all the time. This is particularly so if you are making bold statements on the promotion and preservation of rights and freedoms in front of the prime minister, who has been making grave accusations in political rallies. Your remarks will inevitably attract attention. And some who have been using every opportunity to praise the government reacted to this speech. But those who have been stressing that something is going wrong believe it is good to have a Constitutional Court.

In fact, such a reaction was expected because the Constitutional Court recently made some critical judgments which were backed by references to fundamental rights and freedoms and universal legal principles. For instance, the court’s pro-freedom decision on the Twitter ban attracted the government’s fury. The prime minister said he did not respect the decision, which contributed to the tension. In addition, this decision was declared as “un-national,” which raised further discussion. Some in the government aligning themselves with the prime minister strongly reacted to the court. The government media also published critical reports in which they tried to undermine the image of the president of the court.

The president’s remarks have opened a discussion on the relationship between politics and the law. Debating his remarks and the content of his speech will greatly contribute to our culture of democracy and the law when an analysis is done in good faith. I am afraid some people who have been taken hostage by the appeal of being in power and still consider themselves as conservatives will leave the gist of the speech aside and start a lynching campaign. Some have already started. Unfortunately, a class of hit men has emerged recently. They only have one criterion: to support their own political line. If you do not support this line, they then rely on libels, lies and other disgusting methods of dark propaganda. There is no exception to this aggressive stance and method. When he said he would not remain in politics under these conditions, President Gül was partially raising attention to this.

President Kılıç made crucial warnings; he served as the voice of not only the judiciary but also those who pay attention to democracy and the law. His remarks can be discussed, criticized and evaluated. But this cannot be done by a method of lynching. Why am I making this point? I am doing so because the prior records of those who are uncomfortable with this speech inevitably raise concerns and doubts.

Source: Todays Zaman , April 28, 2014


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