CAFER – Taking sides

Taking sidesWe now know that the criticism leveled throughout this past year over the current governmentand#39s now systematic oppressive, authoritarian and arbitrary actions — and the comparisons between these actions and things we saw during coup eras in Turkey — has not been an exaggeration. Clearly, I wish I was wrong about this.

But the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has unfortunately done nothing but confirm and re-confirm all of it.In the meantime, some of the responsibility for the audacity shown by President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan — who, by the way, despite his new role as president continues to behave more like the AKP leader — lies with some of the pro-government writers and analysts who now pepper the Turkish mediaBecause while all those anti-democratic laws were being turned out last year, and while the state was being reshaped into a police and intelligence unit structure, this pro-government media did its best to portray this rising authoritarianism and oppression as being not only andldquoacceptable,andrdquo but also legitimate and reasonable.

And when this media couldnand#39t come up with any reasons that would actually justify acts that are indefensible in the name of democracy, rights and freedoms, they turned to intoning over and over that andldquosuch things do happen during extraordinary times.andrdquoIn order not to say andldquocoup,andrdquo they say andldquoextraordinary times.

andrdquo And once they achieve acceptance that these are andldquoextraordinary times,andrdquo anything the ruling party wants to do becomes andldquonormal.andrdquoBut why are we talking about andldquoextraordinaryandrdquo times?Is the legitimate, elected government really up against the threat of a coup? Do these coup plotters really intend to shut down Parliament and take hostage the representatives of the people? Are half of our citizens andldquocoup-supporters,andrdquo and the other half andldquoanti-coupandrdquo? Seriously, what exactly is it that makes this period so andldquoextraordinaryandrdquo?!The answer to this question brings us face-to-face with the Dec.

17-25 bribery and corruption allegations and, at the same time, the stance adopted by ErdoIan and his close circles in the face of these allegations and the investigations that followed.Had the ruling party taken a more andldquonormalandrdquo stance in the face of these allegations, had those at the center of these allegations been forced to account for their doings in court and had Parliament done what it should have done, would all of this have added up to being a coup, or would Turkish democracy have passed an important test of its maturity?Those who answer andldquoit would still be a coupandrdquo are unable to answer the question honestly because of the real level of seriousness of the charges at hand, charges that go all the way to Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself.

And so, what we see is that those unable to account for their actions in the face of these allegations have now — using the privileges bestowed on them by the state and by the majority they enjoy in Parliament — declared a general andldquoextraordinary stateandrdquo in Turkey. In the meantime, they have turned the police force upside down.

And through the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and security laws, they have turned Turkey into a country where everyone is a andldquopossible suspect.andrdquo At the same time, the vast majority of the Turkish media is also now under their control.

And now, the time has come to deal with the faction of the media which has refused thus far to bow its neck down to this andldquoextraordinaryandrdquo manner of leadership.At this point, even some pro-government analysts have been forced to acknowledge that andldquoone cannot say there has been no corruption the public does in fact believe that corruption has occurred.

andrdquo But these same analysts go on to add, andldquoBut it was through this corruption and using this corruption that some have tried to foist a coup on us.andrdquoOf course, what theyand#39ve been unable to explain is just how a handful of police force members and prosecutors were going to carry out a coup.

Because the real truth is that, at one end of this business, lies ErdoIan and a ruling party that believes that everyone must obey himThe operations against both Zaman and Samanyolu TV are real proof of just how crazed the eyes of those at the helm of this leadership have become.Those who assert andldquobut those people werenand#39t arrested for their journalismandrdquo will be marked with shame in the future.

The turmoil that now envelops Turkey is the turmoil that tells us that it is now vital and inevitable that Turkey choose between tyranny and democracy. In this sense, ErdoIanand#39s call to people to andldquotake sidesandrdquo is quite on the mark.

I condemn wholeheartedly the arrest of the Zaman newspaperand#39s editor-in-chief, Ekrem DumanlI, and the president of the Samanyolu TV broadcasting channel, Hidayet Karaca.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman