Date posted: May 13, 2014
The legitimacy of a government that does not respect the law is and should be dubious. The nature of a regime is obvious if those who have taken the state’s coercive power under their control through various means do not feel themselves restricted by laws. Such a regime is neither a democracy nor a state guided by the rule of law. Political science offers us a rich source of terms: despotism, tyranny, dictatorship, kingdom, sultanate, sheikdom, monarchy and so on.
Turkey with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at its helm has long been exhibiting the characteristics of one-man rule, with arbitrary practices that are hard to reconcile with democracy and the rule of law; last weekend, it arrived at the final destination. After declaring certain segments of society to be “criminals,” “traitors,” “Hashashin” and “collaborators or subcontractors of foreign powers” without providing any legal evidence and uttering preposterous lies, slander and accusations for the last five months, Erdoğan officially declared his despotism. How so?
During a Sunday meeting of his party — which increasingly gives the impression of being more like a clan than a political party — Erdoğan delivered a speech that will be remembered as a disgrace in political history as he referred to the struggle against the Hizmet movement. He not only confessed that the government has been tyrannizing certain social segments but also openly revealed future illegalities. He made the following remarks that are reminiscent of those made in Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany or Europe in the Middle Ages:
“They frequently claim that the struggle against the ‘parallel structure’ has turned into a witch hunt. If reassigning individuals who betray this country is called a witch hunt, then yes, we will carry out this witch hunt. … I explained this to my ministers. We must follow them at every step. This is not a simple struggle. I tell it to you as well. You will always report their identities and actions. I tell this to all of my citizens: You will report them, and we will take action against them. … We will sterilize the dirty water that has contaminated the milk either by boiling the milk or by separating the molecules in the mixture. … By supporting us with 45.5 percent of the vote on March 30, the public wanted our party to assume this mission to purge this community. … As long as the [Justice and Development Party] AK Party exists, this struggle will continue nonstop.”
Any sane and civilized prime minister who has internalized democratic values at least to some extent and who pays respect to laws can talk about anything, but not about “destroying a social group with cauldrons of boiling water” as if he is talking about cooking a delicious dish. A reasonable prime minister would never think about using the following terms: “witch hunt,” “boiling,” “separating molecules” or “sterilize.” If he does, he and his party lose all of their legitimacy. A country in which the prime minister uses these terms can hardly be described as a democracy or a state guided by the rule of law. When a prime minister has uttered remarks like these that reveal his character and intentions, you can still deceive a significant portion of the public using media outlets that pour lies and slander. But you will lose all your prestige and value in the eyes of the civilized world and the social groups that recognize your primitive, dangerous and fascist mentality.
Talking to Zaman, journalist and columnist Cengiz Çandar underlines this point: “Looking at Turkey from the outside and hearing the prime minister’s remarks, people might conclude that the country has lost the thread and that there has been a regime change in the country. In a country where the rule of law is respected, an administrator cannot make such remarks. The term ‘witch hunt’ clearly implies this: ‘I won’t pay respect to any law or court decision.’ Indeed, ‘witch hunt’ is used to refer to an illegal situation. … To say, ‘If this a witch hunt, we will carry out this witch hunt’ means ‘I will overstep laws if I cannot do it within the legal framework’.”
But do Turkey and its people deserve this fascist despotism and vulgarity? Will this nation and its constitutional institutions submit to this primitive and onerous fascism despite decades of democratization? Will the thousands of public servants and bureaucrats who have been removed from office and reassigned to other positions without any evidence or legal accusations against them keep silent in the face of the label “traitor” ruthlessly attached to them? Won’t this person who occupies the prime ministerial position be given any chance to prove his case at the courts? Won’t the prime minister, who dares to call innocent people “traitors” in what amounts to an extra-judicial execution, be called to account for his deeds in court?
Won’t the democrats of this country voice any critical remarks about the aspiration for a dictatorship that is quickly being putting into practice? What about the judicial authorities? What are they waiting for before taking legal action to stop this process? Take Chief Public Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation Hasan Erbil as an example; will he just sit and watch these horrible actions and discourses threaten the country’s integrity, unity, peace and harmony?
What will Turkey’s friends from the democratic world say or do in the face of this dangerous progress? Will they act as if nothing has happened? For instance, will European capitals turn a blind eye when a leader with such a mentality holds rallies in various European cities, pouring out hate speeches? Will they continue to see Erdoğan as a dignified counterpart even though he is waging an unlawful and arbitrary war against certain social segments and deliberately becoming more and more despotic in an effort to cover up strong and concrete evidence about graft and bribery allegations against him and his colleagues?
The danger is really big, as we are facing a leader who has largely internalized despotism and fascism along with his small group of oligarchic aides, who adore him. Even individuals who were supposed to act as the conscience of this group lost their characteristics long ago. Just look at how party officials with academic backgrounds, who exploit the advantages of this despotism, are acting. Yasin Aktay is a good example of one of these officials as he is acting as the AK Party’s deputy chairman in charge of foreign affairs. Speaking to Reuters recently, Prof. Aktay said: “Now it’s war. There’s no way back,” admitting the ever-growing despotism.
This morbid mentality has seen votes given to various local administrator candidates under various justifications at the March 30 local elections as a “mandate to declare war” and adopts a similar approach to the upcoming presidential elections. They say that if Erdoğan is elected president, it will represent the nation’s approval of a transition to a presidential system in Turkey. Thus, they are making it clear that they feel no obligation to be bound by laws or the Constitution. If the presidential elections produce favorable results for them, they declare that they will ignore Articles 101-106 of the Constitution, which concerns the powers and authorities of the president.
Well, what can we say? This form of behavior is fitting for them. Indeed, despotism does not need principles, morality, laws or the Constitution. I must admit that they are consistent at least in that regard.
Source: Todays Zaman , May 13, 2014