Parliament no longer venue for debate on critical issues

Despite the killing in Diyarbakır still being clouded in mystery and uncertainty, the motion for establishing a parliamentary commission to investigate it has been rejected by the deputies of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

In the past, AK Party deputies have also blocked similar motions regarding issues that deeply shocked society such as unresolved murders, the Suruc massacre and the “parallel state” structure. Former Foreign Minister Yasar Yakıs stresses that if Parliament establishes commissions to investigate hotly debated topics in the country, it would increase the public’s trust in Parliament. “It is of crucial importance to examine the issues that concern the public closely and in a transparent manner. First of all, Parliament should be able to discuss and investigate such issues thoroughly. Transparency is the cornerstone of democratic societies,” he said.

Yakıs, one of the founders of the AK Party, indicates that it will help to defuse tension if critical issues are investigated via Parliament, and this will also relieve the ruling party. “I don’t know the exact reasons why AKP [AK Party] deputies turn down the motions for parliamentary inquiries. Yet transparency is the only way for public contentment. If a commission is formed with the inclusion of opposition deputies, this means that the ruling party has nothing to hide. This will also ease away some of the pressure on the ruling party. It will reassure the public. I really would like to see that the party I co-founded sticks to the principle of transparency to regain the public’s trust,” he said.

Hasip Kaplan, the former deputy chairman of the parliamentary group of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), maintains that the AK Party creates a serious problem by rejecting motions for parliamentary inquiries, relying on its control over the majority of parliamentary seats and denying Parliament the opportunity to discuss Turkey’s critical issues. Kaplan had issued a parliamentary inquiry motion regarding the AK Party’s much-parroted claims about the existence of a “parallel state structure” in the wake of a graft and bribery scandal that went public on Dec. 17, 2013.

“Although they were the proponents of the claim, the AKP rejected the idea of establishing a parliamentary commission to investigate the claims. It inserted those claims into a National Security Council [MGK] document, known as the state’s Red Book, in which major threats against the nation are listed. Yet it blocked the initiative aiming to allow Parliament to investigate the matter. By doing so, the AKP denied its own claims,” he said. “With this mindset, Parliament cannot discuss any critical issue in Turkey! With its majority seats, the AKP will continue to be a law unto itself. It will pass bills to its liking and establish parliamentary commissions of its own sweet will. No commission will be established in Parliament if [the AKP] doesn’t want it, no issue will be investigated by Parliament if [the AKP] refuses to allow it.”

No sovereignty for legislature

Ali Rıza Ozturk, a former member of the parliamentary Justice Commission, argues that the legislature is unable to operate freely as it is under the guardianship of the executive branch. Ozturk, a former Mersin deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), stresses that AK Party deputies rejected all parliamentary inquiry motions he submitted for the investigation of murders by unknown assailants. “Unsolved killings constitute a bleeding wound for Turkey. Inquiry motions have been given so that this wound can be treated. They rejected the motion I submitted on April 6, 2010. I submitted it again on June 22, but they rejected it again. The motion I submitted for the investigation of the May 1, 1977 killings was also rejected. If unsolved murders continue to be unsolved, this is no coincidence. Each time, they say that the issue is crucial and should be discussed and investigated. But when it comes to the vote, they reject the motion. Parliamentary inquiry motions about unsolved killings have been rejected at least 10 times. If the assailants of these murders cannot be found, the assailant is the state itself. It is a scandal that Parliament cannot investigate these matters,” he said.

Ozturk indicates that the real problem is that rule of law in Turkey is being undermined as the ruling AK Party is afraid of the rule of law. He draws attention to the fact that Diyarbakır Bar Association President Elci had been made a target of an investigation before he was killed. Ozturk said: “Before he was killed, Tahir Elci was subjected to character assassination. An investigation was launched because he said that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] is not a terrorist organization and an arrest warrant was issued. This is proof that there is no security of law in Turkey. When I was a member of the parliamentary Justice Commission, the AKP submitted a bill that sought to make terrorist organization propaganda no longer a crime. Elci wasn’t propagandizing, he just spoke his mind. There was no violence or coercion involved. Yet, a warrant was issued for his arrest although he did nothing reprehensible according to the law, which is evidence that there is no rule of law in Turkey. The lack of legal security is further indicated by the arrests of Can Dundar and Erdem Gul. As rule of law is being undermined, the legislature is prevented from discussing these issues. What could be more natural than investigating the Suruc massacre? Given the fact that that massacre was not investigated, one cannot submit a parliamentary inquiry motion about the Ankara massacre. The ruling AKP is afraid to discuss these matters transparently. The AKP is afraid of the rule of law. As long as the AKP controls the majority of seats in Parliament, no critical issue can be discussed.”