LALE – As justice is replaced by unlawfulness

As justice is replaced by unlawfulnessNon-Turkish speakers who have to follow Turkish affairs closely are luckier than Turks themselves since the way many Turkish TV programs and papers are covering current political affairs can make them mad. This is because Turkish coverage of events has gone far from being rational and relatively democratic, having been replaced by views sometimes defending unlawful acts.

Almost every night there are programs on many TV channels featuring political discussions in which hosts from almost every profession related to the topic argue with each other in a manner that can easily drive the watchers crazy. Hosts with differing opinions sometimes come close to strangling each otherMost of the time, for instance, I am shocked by some of the TV hosts defending high-profile corruption allegations as if they were made up by members of the Gulen movement, which is headed by Islamic scholar Fetullah Gulen, who lives in the US state of Pennsylvania, to unseat the government.

Those lawyers, journalists or academics who fiercely defend this government line that corruption and bribery has not in fact taken place and that it was invented by the Gulen movement to stage a coup to topple the government are apparently not ashamed of what they are talking about.Why would they feel ashamed of their remarks defending unethical behavior? After all, in this NATO member country, one that is a candidate for European Union membership, the illegal acts of members of the government and public officials, such as taking bribes or causing the death of protesters exercising their right to freedom of assembly, go unpunished in most instances.

Despite government-supported attempts to bury the allegations of corruption and bribery leveled against some government ministers while President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan was prime minister — and some of whose family members are also implicated, these allegations are based on strong evidence that requires a really independent judicial inquiry to unearth the truth.It is true that four Cabinet ministers were forced to resign over corruption allegations soon after the disclosure of a graft scandal in December of last year, but certain legal measures taken by the government itself prevented them from being prosecuted.

The government passed a law in Parliament — thanks to its strong majority — immediately after the disclosure of the graft scandal, bringing the judiciary under its full control to prevent a thorough investigation concerning the serious charges of bribery.A government-supported court later rendered a verdict on the graft charges intended to close the bribery files.

Moreover, a parliamentary commission represented by a strong majority from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) decided last Monday, Dec. 22, to delay until January a decision on whether the four former Cabinet ministers will stand trial on accusations of corruption.

AKP members of the commission have pursued a stalling tactic to gain time by postponing their decision concerning the ministers.Another major blow was inflicted on the already crippled Turkish judicial system and the public conscience was deeply hurt when the authorities returned money confiscated from the son of an ex-minister and the aide of an Iranian businessman who was at the heart of last yearand#39s corruption scandal — and with interest.

Elsewhere in the world, however, from Tanzania in Africa to Spain in Europe, high-level personalities are either sacked from their office or are facing trial following allegations of corruption.Yet in Turkey, even though the amount of money allegedly earned through bribery is four or more times that in the case of, for instance, Tanzania, it is given back to the alleged perpetrators with interest.

In Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete on Dec. 23 fired Land and Housing Minister Anna Tibaijuka, accused of wrongly taking $1 million (andpound640,000) from a businessman.

In Turkey, a total of TL 400,000, 320,000 euros and $90,000 has been returned to BarII Guler, the son of former Interior Minister Muammer Guler, along with TL 20,000 in interest that the money had accrued in the year since it was seized within the scope of the major, high-profile corruption investigation.Muammer Guler at the time claimed that the police had planted the money in his sonand#39s house and accused those who carried out the operation of a taking part in a andldquoconspiracy.

andrdquo His previous remarks stand in contrast to his son accepting the andldquoplantedandrdquo money.Iranian businessman Reza Zarraband#39s employee Abdullah Happani was also given back his TL 1 million, 800,000 euros, $60,000 and two kilograms of gold seized by the police as part of the same corruption investigation, with interest.

The above-mentioned monetary figures, seized during a police investigation before it was halted by the government from proceeding, are only a drop in the ocean taking into consideration the remaining amounts that some other ministers and their sons have allegedly gained through corruption.I am deeply ashamed and frustrated by the situation in Turkey wherein attempts can be made to legalize corruption while those unearthing this illegal activity are either put in jail or purged as part of earlier government operations against the police and judiciary.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman