Turbulent times [in Turkey due to corruption probe]

Nicole Pope
Nicole Pope

Date posted: December 19, 2013


I was all set to write about the recent red-scarf initiative launched by the female members of Parliament who were fed up with the insults and degrading talk flying under the roof of the national assembly, but the corruption probe that has exploded onto Turkey’s political stage has forced me to revise my plan.

The arrest of several people close to the government, including three ministers’ sons, accused of taking significant bribes, has shaken the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to the core and plunged Turkey into political uncertainty.

The only reasonable way forward for the government, in the face of the serious accusations that have surfaced in recent days, would be to lend its full support to the investigation, pledge to punish anyone convicted of taking bribes and immediately suspend the relevant ministers pending the outcome of the ongoing inquiry.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, though clearly shaken, does not appear in a conciliatory mood, however. He has described the probe as a “dirty operation,” part of a conspiracy designed to undermine the government. Having praised the actions of the police during the Gezi protests, he has now removed from their positions some 30 high-level police officers, including the İstanbul police chief.

Turkey needs a more democratic culture. It needs accountability and transparency, clean governance, an independent judiciary and a clear separation of powers. The AKP came to power in 2002 promising to deliver just that, but a long period in power combined with weak opposition have eroded good intentions and fostered arrogance and a sense of entitlement.

The probe is undermining the aura of invincibility that surrounded the AKP, but it is too early to measure its full electoral impact. If courts confirm that crimes were committed, the scandal would force the AKP to eat humble pie and offer an opportunity for Turkey to return to a more balanced and healthy political track. But the inquiry can only have a positive outcome if it is conducted with the utmost respect for the rule of law, and not just through the media.

Whether it is the case or not — the Gülen movement denies it — the timing of the arrests has created the widespread perception that the investigation is linked to the growing tension between the AKP and the Gülen movement, also known as Hizmet.

This assessment, it is important to mention, is not limited to pro-government Turkish media; it was also reflected in many recent news reports published in international publications like The Guardian, The New York Times or Le Monde. This perception presents some risks for the Gülen movement as well, which was known mainly for its achievements in education, but is now increasingly seen as a political actor.

At a time when Turkey really needs an independent justice system to ensure that the whole truth emerges, the shortcomings of its judicial system are an unwelcome factor. The country’s justice system is unfortunately known mainly for repressive laws and a somewhat whimsical implementation of legislation.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has just published its latest data showing that Turkey remains the number one jailer of journalists in the world, with 40 reporters behind bars. Only a few days ago, after a Constitutional Court decision allowed former journalist and Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Mustafa Balbay to be released from jail, a court in Diyarbakır refused to apply the same principles to three Kurdish deputies, who remain in prison. The large number of children and students behind bars for various offences, many of them not even convicted, are another evidence of a dysfunctional system.

The allegations of corruption, which affect the families of key ministers, have dealt a blow to the ruling AKP’s reputation. As the judicial process unfolds, the credibility of the legal process, too, will come under close scrutiny and it is important that it is conducted in a way that cannot be challenged.

As Turkey enters an election year, all the signs are pointing to a turbulent period ahead. Tighten your seatbelts for what promises to be a roller-coaster political ride with an uncertain outcome.

Source: Today's Zaman , December 19, 2013

Related News

Islamists lost test with power, Arab and Turkish intellectuals agree

Gathering in İstanbul at a meeting organized by Turkish Review and Hira magazine, Arab and Turkish intellectuals have discussed the role of the state in Muslim societies and agreed that Islamist politicians have lost their test with power, as they were transformed by the state instead of transforming the state.

Turkey bans math textbooks due to questions including Gülen’s initials

Turkey’s paranoia over the Gülen movement has reached new heights with the government banning mathematics textbooks due to questions involving the initials of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Kimse Yok Mu distributes aid to Syrian refugees

As Turkey is trying to meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have taken shelter in Turkey from the war in Syria, charity organizations have scrambled to launch massive aid campaigns to lend a hand to the embattled refugees, with Kimse Yok Mu providing food and aid for 2,500 Syrians in İstanbul every week.

Turks Seen as Sympathetic to US-Based Muslim Cleric Say They Face Threats

More than a month after Turkey’s failed coup, which its government blames on a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, many Turks seen as his sympathizers say threats from government supporters are complicating their lives.

Father says wife, 11-month-old son under arrest despite medical problems

Cengiz Zaza Akbaba, the husband of Gulistan Diken Akbaba said in a recent video that his wife and 11-month-old son have been under arrest despite the babies medical problems. “This child is only one of 560 children. Now, 560 children are not allowed to touch the soil, not allowed to see the sun,” Akbaba added.

Woman miscarried twins in prison, dead bodies not returned to family

The 28-year-old Nurhayat Yildiz miscarried her twins in prison and the dead bodies of her babies were not returned to any of her family members.

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

PACE concerned over lack of domestic remedy for purge victims in Turkey

Peace Valley Foundation recognizes reporter, teacher, preacher for community work

Turkish school in Pakistan produces math world champion

Turkish group among first to send aid to ‘Yolanda’ victims

Another woman faces detention at hospital just after giving birth

Why the West ‘failed to understand’ Turkey

Aydan Meydan from Bosna Sema School won the “Inspiring Educator Award”!

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News