Starting a witch hunt [against the Hizmet movement]

ORHAN OĞUZ GÜRBÜZ
ORHAN OĞUZ GÜRBÜZ


Date posted: May 17, 2014

ORHAN OĞUZ GÜRBÜZ

The discourse Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Chairman and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan relies on to intimidate his opponents has taken on a whole different dimension. The prime minister argues that his election victory in the March 30 local elections gives him the right to combat the Hizmet movement, which he refers to as the “parallel state” or “parallel structure.”

He made an unusual statement recently in which, for the first time, he admitted that his party embarked on a “witch hunt” with this so-called struggle: “We have been given a mandate for this. If relocating and reassigning traitors is a witch hunt, then we will do this [witch hunt]. You should note that. If we do not, we betray this nation. I told my ministers that we have to chase them [the ‘parallel state’] to the end. So I tell you: You should inform us what they are doing. You should inform us so that we can do whatever we need to do.”

This speech shows that we will witness more reassignments and reshuffling based on ungrounded accusations. Newspapers have recently reported that it is now possible — after the directive by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) — to file anonymous denunciations and complaints against judges, prosecutors and police chiefs and officers. There is now no need to authenticate the identity of the plaintiff or applicant to initiate an investigation into the allegations. The directive also states that those who have been accused will not be allowed to defend themselves during the investigation process. This signals that we will experience what the United States did during the period of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s influence, who alleged that many people were involved in a Communist conspiracy, leading to anonymous denunciations, lynching campaigns, unjust treatment of public officers and more.

Prime Minister Erdoğan and his close friends believe that the presidential election will inevitably lead to a presidential system. They also make statements and remarks to create a popular perception that the president will lead the government. They mention that Atatürk and İsmet İnönü served as head of both the executive and legislative branches.

Speaking of a witch hunt, let me discuss this matter further. It is obvious that the single-party period in Turkish political history suffered from lack of democratic governance and rules. Parliament in this period was composed of deputies who were actually appointed and there was no opposition. Turkey moved to a multiparty system in the 1950 elections. One of the most visible legacies of the single-party period was the martial courts and forced resettlement law. In the martial courts, a number of opponents and dissidents were unjustly prosecuted and convicted in connection with alleged involvement in the assassination attempt in İzmir. This was a witch hunt; the critical and rival media were silenced by the resettlement law in the aftermath of the pro-Kurdish riots. Another witch hunt was perpetrated against the press and intellectuals.

Do Erdoğan and his confidants envisage the repercussions of what they call a witch hunt? Turning families, relatives and neighbors into enemies by creating networks of espionage? What do these attempts to instigate hatred and enmity for political ends and goals mean? Maybe you will win elections by consolidating your support base by a “sustainable tension” strategy and inventing a so-called “parallel structure”; but you will not guarantee a future by this method. It is easy to start a witch hunt; it is hard to stop it. And it is difficult to draw the boundaries. If you call the destruction of law, democracy and freedoms a witch hunt, you will not be credible or successful.

Source: Todays Zaman , May 17, 2014


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