Turkey’s period of democracy formally comes to an end

Retired Col. Cemal TemizandOz and seven other defendants, who were on trial for charges of being responsible for the disappearance of what is believed to be 21 Turkish Kurds in the 1990s, were acquitted on Nov. 5 for a lack of sufficient evidence and also due to the fact that the statute of limitations had expired.
This trial is the latest in a series of similar trials into the wave of murders allegedly committed mainly in the countryand’s Kurdish-dominated and conflict-ridden southeastern provinces in the 1990s all such cases brought culminated in the acquittal of the defendants.
This latest trial was first opened in 2009 against the now-retired Col. TemizandOz as well as seven others, including former Cizre Mayor Kamil Atai, for the murders of Turkish Kurds whose bodiesand’ whereabouts are still unknown in the area of Silopi and Cizre. This case is also known as the iirnak death well trials as some bones of the bodies found were dumped in wells that were filled with acid, discovered during excavations made in the area prior to the opening of the case against the alleged perpetrators. The clandestine unit of the gendarmerie, JiTEM, was allegedly responsible for abducting an unknown number of Kurds and dumping their bodies in acid wells. This unit was alleged to have been under the command of local gendarmerie commander TemizandOz, who was commander in Cizre from 1993 to 1995.
TemizandOz was a key figure in the trial and was facing an aggravated life sentence before he was acquitted.
Turkeyand’s history is filled with unsolved murders. According to Turkish parliamentary documents, there are around 17,500 cases of murder that are largely unresolved, committed in the southeastern region during the 1990s.
One defendantand’s mocking remarks during the hearing of Nov. 5 stood as strong evidence that the suspects were confident over the alleged support given to them by the state, despite the fact that the charges leveled against them were in turn based on strong evidence. Adem Yakin, a suspect in the case and a former Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK) informer, told the court: and”I have no idea about JiTEM. The only thing I know about JiTEM is that it means andlsquoI love youand’ in Turkish.and” He was referring to the words and”Je tand’aimeand” in French having sometimes the wrong pronunciation when said by a Turkish person.
The 1990s were the years when the Turkish state was engaged in bitter fighting with the PKK and that saw the deaths of around 50,000 Turks, Kurds and civilians.
Turkeyand’s political resolve to fight against criminal elements of the deep state came at a time when it declared a peace process with the Kurds in 2009 to end an almost-30-year-long fight with the PKK through peaceful means. This process concluded in a cease-fire declared by the PKK in 2013, which lasted for around two-and-a-half years before it was broken this year in July and resumed with heavy fighting that is ongoing between the security forces and the PKK.
Turkish resolve to settle its scores with deep state elements in 2009 and since has paved the way for the judiciary to take action against the alleged perpetrators of the unsolved murders and those plotting coups, as seen in the action taken against the former generals responsible for staging the 1980 military coup and the Feb. 28, 1997 post-modern coup that led to the downfall of the coalition government headed by an Islam-based party.
But the aforementioned period became a thing of the past when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a big U-turn away from major democratic reforms. The AKP has instead continued to put unprecedented pressure on all forms of dissent in the country, inflicting a serious amount of damage to freedom of expression, media freedom and human rights, and thus failing to put into force even limited democratic reforms to ease Kurdish grievances.
If the government was serious in settling its scores with deep state elements, it could have cooperated with the main opposition Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP), which criticized the acquittal of all defendants in the unsolved murder trial, when it tabled 24 motions in Parliament for investigating the extrajudicial killings. The AKP instead turned down all these motions.
The acquittal of eight suspects on trial for the murder of many Kurds should, therefore, be seen as a reflection that the short-lived Turkish period of democratization has formally come to an end.


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ألباكيركي، نيو مكسيكو، 18 تشرين الأول/أكتوبر، 2017 / بي آر نيوزواير / — أهلا بكم