Turkey lacks public demand for open society, Istanbul event warns

The women with headscarves who were handcuffed in the Aegean province of Manisa on Nov. 10 dominated the agenda of Turkey all week. Under normal conditions, their gender or wearing of a headscarf should not make a difference, but the unlawful handcuffing by the police does. However, the high degree of abuse of the headscarf issue in Turkey by the government has directed attention to the hypocrisy of the same government. People criticized the handcuffing of headscarved women, partially because the Justice and Development Party (AK Party)onstituency is for the most part just receptive to issues regarding religion.
I arrived in Manisa as soon as the period of detention of the victims expired on Friday afternoon. While waiting at the courthouse, and after the release of 24 and arrest of three people in the witch hunt operation against the presumed sympathizers of the Gandulen movement, I had the chance to talk to the victims and their families. However, still being scared of the state, they asked me not to cite their names or even initials. This very fear is itself a telling indicator of the climate in todayand’s Turkey.
During the wait in the Manisa courthouse, one of the relatives of a detainee broke down and it was Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) deputy andOzgandur andOzel who consoled her and urged her to be strong. However, andOzel publically pointed to the fact that it is difficult to think of due process in this investigation. Later, another CHP deputy, Dr. Tur Yildiz Biandcer, took care of an old man who had a seizure due to stress, which was greatly was appreciated by the crowd. Manisa Bar Association President Ali Arslan informed the families of the legal procedure as he explained that the charges were attempting to change the constitutional order and aid a terrorist organization. Apparently, the only and”evidenceand” is the depositing of money in Bank Asya, which the government has previously tried to bankrupt.
A young woman I met during the wait told me that it was the conscience of the people that was handcuffed during the operation. She noted that the police arrived as early as 6.30 a.m. on Nov. 10 without giving the reason for the arrest warrant as she anxiously waited for the verdict on her husband. She said that despite all the pressure, they would continue to support the educational activities (of the Gandulen movement), adding that everybody who works for the cause is a volunteer. Commenting on former Deputy Prime Minister Bandulent Arinandcand’s condemnation of the handcuffing, this woman added that she does not believe that he is sincere.
h2I kissed her handcuffed wristsh2 On Friday evening the only good news to come was the release of one of the handcuffed women. One of her friends said that she kissed her handcuffed wrists when she first saw her.
h2We always prayed in detentionh2 One of the male victims of the investigation said they spent all their time praying and worrying about their families waiting outside. He said he has nothing to be worried about, but asked me not to cite his name to avoid the wrath of the state again.
In an environment where there is no faith in the rule of law or politicians, the victims of the witch hunt are not happy to see their picture in the media. Most of them try to hide from the newspapers and keep televisions switched off to prevent their little children from seeing them being taken by the police.
h2Is their crime to work for the sake of God?h2 and”How could the police take both parents of a child? Is their crime to work for the sake of God and commit good deeds?and” asked the mother of a victim. Her husband, still in shock from the events, says they had never stepped inside a police station or a courthouse in their lifetime.
Calling the detention due to the depositing of money in Bank Asya an eclipse of mind, the father underlines that in a country with the rule of law, one is free to utilize his money as he wishes.
One common conviction among the victims of the Manisa witch hunt is that the investigations aim to defame leading figures of the province by spreading pictures of them in handcuffs. The temporary dismissal of Police Chief Tayfur Erdal Ceren is considered a political move to ease the tension, although the way in which people saw the police improved following this decision.
Contrary to some of the reports in the media, none of the five detained women were pregnant. However, some have infants. One of the arrested men reportedly has cancer.
The relatives of the victims protest the operation as terrorism, while real terrorists are on the loose across Turkey. As they wait for these dark days to be over, they rely on the ultimate plan of God only.


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