Monday, July 25, 2016

"Victory Belongs to the Faithful": Erdogan

"[This] raises troubling questions, if accused people are seen on television or photos bearing clear traces of physical violence."
Steffen Seibert, German government spokesman

"Right now law is suspended. We see investigations going on without any rule of law. Yes, the military intervention was stopped, the military dictatorship was stopped, but right now we see they are trying to build a civilian dictatorship."
Sercan Aran, deputy head, Ankara Bar Association human rights commission

"We are doing everything according to the law."
"The idea that Turkey, a country seeking European Union membership, would not respect the law is absurd."
"All we care about is concrete evidence of complicity in this grave assault."
Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity 

"If they try to record signs of torture, they face threats and violence from the police. A colleague that tried to photograph evidence of torture was made to erase the photos."
Doguan Togue Cankurt, lawyer, Ankara

"There are a litany of abuses that have been reported to us. There are serious allegations of widespread mistreatment and mutually corroborating reports going beyond beatings to high levels of abuse."
"And if they [Turkish authorities] don't have concrete evidence, they shouldn't be detaining them [detainees suspected of association with Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Erdogan accuses of leading the coup]."
Andrew Gardner, researcher, Amnesty International
In Ankara, crowds chant: "Here is the army, here is the commander!" calling out for the government to reintroduce the death penalty for coup plotters. Which their president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, beaming benevolently at his faithful supporters, is most pleased to consider. Serendipitously, it was his very own thought, as well. And as a skilled manipulator of public opinion and support for himself, one can only wonder at the coincidence.

The international community looks on with fascination at the images of bruised and battered prisoners, those detained who appear, strangely, to have been violently mishandled in their prison cells. Germany in particular, suffering its own hell paved with good intentions, is hoping that Turkey's crisis will soon be settled, bloodlessly, so as to have minimal impact on Ankara's agreement to stem the flow of migrants into Europe.

For the moment, and perhaps for a much longer moment in time, longer than the three months stated, Turkey will remain in a state of emergency. A state that confers upon Mr. Erdogan unlimited powers of discretionary decision-making. Required, of course, to enable him to counter threats to Turkish democracy, which he has carefully been protecting in the exemplary manner he has become famous for, particularly among the judiciary, the military and the news media.

Now, his democratic credentials have been extended with tender, loving care to the thousands of civil servants, lawyers, police, military personnel and incautious citizens who have been foolish enough to think that a canny politician like Erdogan could be defanged so easily. What it brings to mind for those who are historical-minded is the Spanish Inquisition and Stalin's Great Terror; it is utterly amazing what gentle persuasion to peoples' better natures can produce in self-incriminatory confessions.
"The rationale for the Great Terror was the supposed discovery of a diabolical conspiracy whose object was nothing less than the destruction of the Soviet Union, a notion that echoes the rationale of the Inquisition in its long war on heresy The conspirators were accused of putting themselves in service to the worst enemies of the Bolshevik Revolution, including Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. The reality is that 'the whole alleged plot was a vast cycle of frame-ups by Stalin and his entourage' all of it intended to eliminate his rivals and strengthen his authority as the absolute dictator of the Soviet Union. Significantly, the arch-villains in Stalin's show trials were men whose roles in the Bolshevik Revolution had been equal to or arguably even greater than his own, including Leon Trotsky, Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, and Nikolai Bukharin."
Jonathan Kirsch, The Grand Inquisitor's Manual
Has a familiar ring to it, don't you think? Fethullah Gulen was an Erdogan confidante and supporter. Until the time came when he was disgusted with the corruption of the Justice and Development Party and its Islamist leader. Said to be more moderate an Islamist than Erdogan they had a parting of the ways. And the socially, culturally, religiously influential Gulen departed in self-exile, out of the menacing reach of Erdogan. That hasn't stopped him from pressuring the U.S. for extradition so he can place the cleric on trial in democratic Turkey.

President Erdogan informs his public that the state of emergency in Turkey will counter threats to Turkish democracy. Even his opponents and other Turkish political parties swallowed that hook. His true critics are swinish enough to urge restraint, however, fearing basic freedoms will be violated. Of course, the Justice and Development Party (that most Orwellian of language usage) didn't need a declared state of emergency to proceed with mass arrests, mass firings, closure of hundreds of Gulen-linked schools, come to think of it.

Courage beyond the line of civil duty is being exhibited by the Ankara Bar Association with its 24-hour hotline and crisis centre, where terror-stricken Turks can reach out to find out where their missing relatives are. And when they are informed where their loved ones are being held incommunicado and without legal representation, they are also admonished not to attempt to visit them: "Don't go", they are told, "they aren't letting anyone visit".

In defence of democracy, needless to say.

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