4 Kasım 2014 Salı

MELTING THE MOUNTAIN OF IRON



ENGLISH
(Türkçe için bkz. "Demir Dağ Eriyor mu Ne?", 12 Mart 2014.)
The original of this article appeared on March 12th 2014; events have kept me from translating it all these months. I  felt the contents were cruicial enough to merit even a belated publication.

Late in the evening of March 12th ret. Full Gen. İlker Başbuğ, former chief of staff of the Turkish Armed Forces, was released from Silivri prison, a giant penitentiary in the midle of nowhere some 50 km. outside Istanbul. (See "Silivri", 18 December-Aralık 2012.) 
 
The evening of March 7th, 2014, before the Silivri prison compound.
Ret. General İlker Başbuğ is free.
(Image from the media.)
Long would he have stayed behind those bars if it weren't for the breakup of the unholy alliance between the partners in crime, the fundamentalist-Islamist AKP regime in Turkey and the manipulative imam in Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gülen. The alliance had been so strong, the bond so seamless, the harmony so complete at the outset that there was no point in making a distinction between the two, Gülen being the holy man under US care and protection, the spiritual leader to shepherd pious Muslim masses down paths acceptable to US Middle-Eastern policy, and Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP constituted the administrative end in the once secular, soon to be fundamentalist Republic of Turkey.[1]

With the Gezi ("Promenade Park") uprising starting at the end of May 2013 and raging through June it became clear that the AKP's efforts to impose a Sunni-Islamist lifestyle did not enjoy the popularity the US think-tanks and "Turkey experts" had imagined. Furthermore, it was painfully obvious that prime minister Erdoğan's authoritative approach and abusive language served only to fan the fire. The US started to contemplate alternatives which would tip a hat to the secularist Kemalists while continuing the policy of "moderate Islam" through Fethullah Gülen and his spiderweb of connections. The warm relations between president Obama and prime minister Erdoğan started to cool down even as traffic increased between the US authorities and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.[2] Likewise, as Fethullah Gülen's Cemaat ("Community") started to distance itself from prime minister Erdoğan and the AKP, there was a visible rapprochement between Kılıçdaroğlu's CHP and the ideologically incompatible Cemaat

The Cemaat had methodically infiltrated the judiciary and the police over the years and used its moles to undermine the secular-Kemalist Turkish Republic. The operation ran on fabricated evidence, false witnesses (criminals offered leniency in return for false testimony) and kangaroo courts run by prosecutors and judges that were no more than Fethullah Gülen's moles. The best of the elite of the Kemalist Republic, journalists, academicians, intellectuals, and most of all, officers, were rounded up wave after wave. The media, mostly owned by businessmen with other financial interests, readily sold its conscience for favourable deals and financial benefits. This blog has been dedicated to making a record of these dark years of our history so if you are new, I can refer you to the earlier articles. The most exhaustive recapitulation is "Ergenekon Trials and Tribulations", 30 August-Ağustos 2013. 

The discord between the AKP and the Gülen Cemaat came to a head on December 17th 2013 when the state prosecutors launched the notorious "corruption and bribery" investigations on names close to the government. Prime minister Erdoğan and the AKP had been very content up to then with the services of the Cemaat in clearing out the potential opposition and wreaking Islamist revenge on the irritating secularists, and using the means at their disposal, efficiently drowned out all voices questioning the witchhunts and sham trials. Now, finding themselves targeted by the same corrupt judiciary, they had to execute a complete about-face and start trying to convince the world that, contrary to what they had been claiming for years, the Turkish judiciary was indeed corrupt, had indeed been infiltrated by the Gülen Cemaat, and was indeed prone to highly unsavoury practices. The more the prime minister and the AKP tried to discredit the judiciary that was now hounding them, the more they gave credibility to those of us who have been insisting that the Ergenekon, "Sledgehammer", "Espionage" and similar cases were groundless shams. See "To Err is Human", 26 January-Ocak 2014. 

It may even be that the AKP, now shaken from the withdrawing US support and smarting under the attacks of the Gülen-controlled judiciary, sought to make peace with their victims and make an alliance with them against the Gülen Cemaat on which they were now placing all the blame.

As the pressure to release the inmates increased, the government tried to find a way that would give an impression of following procedure, without really admitting what a sham the whole affair had been. The "Specially Assigned Courts"[3] created for the farce had been dissolved as far back as July 1st, 2012, with the provision that they continue handling the Ergenekon, "Sledgehammer" and related cases until their conclusion. These courts were dissolved again, and with immediate effect, with the parliamentary resolution endorsed by president Abdullah Gül on March 7th, 2014. The maximum period of detention without verdict was reduced to 5 years (from 10!).

Though the Ergenekon verdicts had been passed on August 5th, 2014, with very long sentences, including several for life, they were not yet reviewed by the Appeals Court (Danıştay); what is more, the court had neglected to submit its reasons for the decisions (Gereçeli Karar) as it was legally bound to do. It was therefore possible to junk the "Specially Assigned Courts", judges and all, and declare its verdicts void. This rendered the cases inconclusive and required defendants held for over five years to be released pending trial. The way was open for the Ergenekon defendants to be released from the infamous Silivri prison. However, the "Sledgehammer" inmates could not benefit, the Appeals Court having ratified the verdicts on October 9th, 2013.[4]

Gen. İlker Başbuğ had put active service a good deal behind himself when he was called in to testify on the "Internet Memorandum" (İnternet Andıcı) case[5]. He reported to testify on January 5th, 2012, found himself charged, was questioned for seven hours, and was arrested and sent to Silivri prison, after midnight, on charges of leadership of a terrorist organization aiming to overthrow the government by force- a fictional terrorist organization called Ergenekon invented to drag good names through the mud.[6]

The newsrag Taraf  of January 6th, 2012 jubilantly giving the news: "Arrested for Coup" and proudly claiming its own share in the glory of this victory for democracy. Under the headline "It started on the Internet and ended in court" the related article goes on: "In course of the investigations on the psychological operation websites of the Turkish Armed Forces first unearthed by Taraf on February 4th, 2009, previously arrested officers have pointed the finger at Başbuğ as the one who gave the order." To rub in its pioneering role in the arrest, Taraf has even reprinted the headline of the said issue; "THE ERGENEKONIST OF PSYCHOLOGICAL WAR". (Right beside the general's hat.)

Just below this is the start of the Kum Saati ("Hourglass") column of columnist Ahmet Altan. It starts: "Yesterday something happened that would have been unimaginable five years ago. The former chief of staff was called to the Procecutor's Office to testify for the 'Internet Memorandum' case. That a criminal and a suspected criminal should give account before Justice, whoever he is and whatever his office, is indeed a great advance. A serious step towards democracy. But it is not enough... "

Evidently, it was not enough; the arrests went on unabated! 

As the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, the organization dedicated to the preservation of the Secular Republic, Gen. Başbuğ was at the crosshairs of the pro-AKP and pro-Cemaat media (for all practical purposes one and the same at that time) but the relationship with Taraf was a special one. The Taraf may even owe its rather odd name to its antagonistic relationship with the General Staff. "Taraf" means "side" as in "which side are you on?" Back in the naively hopeful days in 2007 when we thought we could keep fundamentalist- oriented AKP MP Abdullah Gül from ascending to the presidency through great "Republic Rallies", the General Staff published the following assertive statement on its website on April 27th (excerpt):

"The difficulties that have recently arisen in the run up to the election of the president have focused on a discussion of secularism.[7]  The situation is being observed with concern by the Armed Forces. It must not be forgotten that the Turkish Armed Forces take a side in these discussions and are the absolute defenders of secularism. Furthermore, the Turkish Armed Forces are against such discussions and negative evaluations and will clearly demonstrate their outlook and take action when the need arises..." (Original:  http://arsiv.ntvmsnbc.com/news/406623.asp#storyContinues)

You've  noticed the word "side" here,haven't you? 

"...the Turkish Armed Forces take a side in these discussions and are the absolute defenders of secularism..."

The newsrag Taraf ("side") started publication 6 and a half months later, on  November 15th, 2007, clearly taking an anti-secular "side". The official motto of the paper: "to think is to take sides." 

Gen. Başbuğ was Commander of the Land Army at the time. 

The General Staff in 2007, seated from left to right: Full Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt (Chief of Staff) Full Gen. İlker Başbuğ (Commander of the Land Army), Fleet Admiral Yener Karahanoğlu (Commander of the Navy) , Full-Gen. Faruk Cömert (Commander of the Air Force) ,  Full-Gen. Işık Koşaner (Commander of the Gendarmerie). [8]
(Image from the media.)

Full-Gen. Başbuğ was promoted to the position of Chief of Staff in August 2008 and was pelted by the pro-government media every time he felt compelled to take a stand for the secular Republic. 
 

Taraf, October 16th 2008. 
On October 3rd, 2008, some 600 PKK insurgents crossed the border from Iraq into Turkey. 15 Turkish soldiers lost their lives and another 20 were wounded when the insurgents opened fire on the Turkish military outpost of Aktütün at Şemdinli in Hakkâri. On October 8th Taraf openly accused the General Staff of being aware of the coming attack and not taking action. Gen. Başbuğ, Chief of Staff for barely over a month,  countered the accusations with strong words.[9] Taraf shot back the very next day: "Cut The Threats, Give Account".



The pro-government media- that is to say, most of it- was having a field day in battering the armed forces, relishing the chance to do it with impunity, and Gen. Başbuğ was the man on the spot. On December 17th 2009 Gen. Başbuğ delivered a speech on the deck of the navy frigate Oruç Reis anchored in Trabzon harbor, denouncing the "psychological warfare" conducted against the Armed Forces.[10] Taraf responded in its usual uncouth style.

Taraf, December 18th, 2009: "You explain Kafes to us". Kafes ("Cage") is one of the many sub-plots concocted around the Ergenekon hoax; this particular scenario supposes an operation against Christian minorities- more likely to be targeted by fundamentalist fanatics nurturedby the AKP and the Fethullah Gülen Cemaat than the defenders of the secular Republic. According to the myth perpetrated by the AKP-Cemaat cabal, the murder of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink on January 19th, 2007 and the bloodbath in the Christian publishing house Zirve in Malatya on April 17th 2007 where assailants slit the throats of three persons- one of them a German national- were all part of an operation masterminded by the Ergenekon terror organization. Shady characters in custody, ready to oblige prosecuters with false testimonies in return for leniency, helpfully named the AKP's secular rivals as instigators of the murders. In "reminding" Gen. Başbuğ of the Kafes charges, Taraf hints at a connection with the Chief of Staff himself while reinforcing the unfounded the myth in the public mind.. The blurb under the headline continues: "In course of his speech aboard the frigate Oruç Reis, Başbuğ passed on a message to the Junta on the sea with words laden with implications and called the judiciary to collusion." Just below, in his column Kum Saati ("Hourglass"), columnist Ahmet Altan rants: "The chief of staff has no business interfering with what the media writes and what the prosecutors do, his job is to turn his attention to the juntas and the coup plots in the army under his command. For some reason he does not refer to them. He does not speak clearly, but we can. Are you going to catch these juntas or are you going to protect them? Will you catch those plotting coups or are you going to protect them?..."
İmmediately to the right of all of this is another news item: Full-Gen. Saldıray Berk, commander of the 3rd Army, is to be questioned in the Ergenekon inquiry.

But Taraf's grandest blow came on January 20th, 2010. According to the bellowing headline the Turkish Armed Forces was plotting to bomb one of our own mosques and shoot down one of our own planes in order to create a climate favorable for a coup.

 Taraf, January 10th, 2010.
"The Fatih mosque was to be bombed."
"We were going to shoot down our own plane."
The Kum Saati ("Hourglass") columnof columnist İlhan Altan starts like this:
"Abolish the Army"
"Things have gone well beyond the lazy reasoning of 'oh you know, our army thinks it owns the country'. Perhaps not all but a great majority of our generals seem sick. They prepare a new coup plan almost every year. The coup plan we are publishing today is the most involved of all, comprising thousands of pages, every phase meticulously planned..."

This fantastic plot was supposedly codenamed Balyoz, meaning "Sledgehammer", and it slammed into the lives of many officers, shattering families, destroying careers. To have an idea about the kind of evidence on which the "Sledgehammer" witchhunt was based, see "Hammering the Sledgehammer", 6 February-Şubat 2013.

Gen. Başbuğ was furious. He made his feeling clear in course of a televised speech on January 25th  2010. "How can an army that attacks with the cries of 'Allah Allah' ever contemplate bombing a mosque, the house of Allah?" he said, pounding his fist, and "cursed" those who made the accusation.[11]

But you just can't win with a brazen journalist. Taraf shot back the very next day, on January 26th, with another one of its trademark smart-aleck headlines: "he dashed through saying Allah Allah" (Allah Allah Deyip Geçti), quoting a familiar old song.[12] Ahmet Altan, in his column Kum Saati ("Hourglass"), commented: "İlker Başbuğ talked about the Sledgehammer coup plan but honestly I didn't understand what he was saying..."

Taraf
January 26th, 2010.

  In spite of all adversity, İlker Başbuğ managed to complete his term as Chief of Staff. The fact that he yielded to the pressure of the press and distanced the Armed Forces from the political realities, himself refraining from further strong comments, undoubtedly helped him reach retirement in 2010. He was strongly criticized by the government's opponents for yielding to a court order to search the military's top secret "Cosmic Room" 2009, ostensibly to investigate an alleged plot to assassinate deputy prime minister Bülent Arınç. Gen. Başbuğ gives his version of the event in his book "Countering Lies with Truths" (Suçlamalara Karşı Gerçekler) which he wrote in prison. According to Başbuğ, the   general staff refused to allow the search twice, yielding only after an assessment made at a meeting held at the prime minister's office.

After the initial hearing Başbuğ refused to testify further in the Silivri court, never acknowledging its legitimacy. Instead, he made his defence to the public in a book, Countering Accusations with Truths, one of several books he wrote while in prison. 


Gen. Başbuğ retired on August 30th, 2010. No longer would he be a headache to the government, no longer would he quarrel with Taraf

17 months later he was called in as a witness for the  "Internet Memorandum" case, and once he reported to the prosecutors, found himself behind bars, accused of leadership of the "Ergenekon Terror Organization." Never in the history of the Turkish Republic had a chief of staff found himself in prison, and now it happened, with the improbable stigma of "terrorism". This at a time when convicted terrorist Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the confirmed terrorist organization PKK, was being progressively promoted to respectable political leadership operating from his jail cell by the same government that accused and convicted the general. Why was it deemed desirable to take such a provokative step?[13]

Once he saw that the judges did not even pretend to be impartial, Gen. Başbuğ did not condescend to attend the court hearings, even though the courtroom was within the Silivri prison compound where he was confined. 

Wıkipedia gives Gen. Başbuğ's birthdate as April 29th, 1943,  which means he was 69 years old when imprisoned and in his 71st year when released. On the night of his release, March 7th 2014, he seemed neither thankful, nor tired, nor contrite. He had no written text to read from. This is what he had to say to the media.

"I salute you all with love and respect.

"You probably remember my words on January 6th, 2012: 'The  26th Chief of Staff has been arrested on charges of founding a terror organization. The judgement is in the hands of the Turkish nation.' Two years and two months have passed by since then- 26 months in all. Those who kept us here in this prison for 29 months were motivated by hate and vindictiveness. They stole 26 months from my life, deprived me of my freedom for 26 months. But just as I said on January 6th 2012 the Turkish nation has grown wise to their game, seen how groundless the accusations were, seen how unnacceptable the notion of a chief of staff and his personnel constituting the headquarters of a terrorist organization, of being terrorists; the great Turkish nation has understood in a short time that we have had no intention of staging a coup. If I stand here today, it is thanks to the sympathy and support we have received from my great nation. Therefore here before you all I offer my deepest gratitude to the Turkish nation.

"That I have been released today is no more than a start.I believe with all my heart and soul that my friends in Silivri, Hasdal, Sincan, Maştepe, all equally blameless, will regain their freedom in the shortest time." (Metin Feyzioğlu, resident of the Bar Association: "Mamak") "Mamak also" (Voice from off-screen: ("Hadımköy") "Hadımköy". (Metin Feyzioğlu: "İzmir") "If this does not come true, my release today, my regained freedom are meaningless. Because those I have left behind, such as Gen. Tuncer Kılıç, Gen. Hurşit Tolon, Gen. Bilgin Balanlı, Gen. Hasan Iğsız, and also others such as Tuncay Özkan and Doğu Perinçek are just as innocent as I am.[14] I can also add that the reasoning put forward to obtain my release applies to all of them.[15]

"Therefore those who are kept in these dungeons through, to use the currently popular expression, "plots", they too will certainly, certainly be released in the shortest time,[16] there is no stopping this!

"26 months in prison. Is this a strange quirk of history? The 26th chief of staff, 26 months, this is also interesting. If you are to ask "what is prison", it is pain, suffering, an ordeal to go through, such is the truth. But it is with total sincerity that I say that I harbor no hate, no feelings of vengeance. Because I believe that hateful and vengeful people really drive their own selves to disaster.[17] Hate is overcome by love. That's how we were raised. We are full of love inside.[18] My esteemed nation, my hands and my heart, and those of all my friends, are clean. Therefore, speaking for all of my friends, I say this: we have but one wish, and that is justice. And we will naturally follow developments to see that justice is done.

"What do I mean when I say 'Justice'? This is what I mean: who has conjured this imaginary 'Ergenekon Terror Organization' based on a few grenades found in Ümraniye?[19] Who has put this plan into action? If the Turkish Republic is to become a state under rule of law again, we must find the answers to these questions. And those who planned these operations, as well as those who put them into action, must be brought to justice to be tried fairly. We are going to follow this up.

"Who is the author, who are the authors of the plan to connect the Ergenekon project to the State Council murder?[20] They must all be exposed and called to account for their actions- but justly, if Turkey really wants to become a state under rule of law. There is no question about who 'plotted' against Lieut. Mehmet Ali Çelebi[21], will they get away with it? Never! Never! They are known! Those who hatched this plot against Lt. Mehmet Ali must be punished, if the Republic of Turkey wants to become a state under rule of law once again! How long will they keep Hanefi Avcı in prison?[22] Someone must give an answer. This is cruelty, this is disgraceful! According to whose wishes does this all happen? Enough is enough! 

"Who are the powers who planned  and acted to associate my classmate Gen. Hurşit Tolon with the nefarious Zirve murders, and that based on the testimony of one, just one secret witness?[23] And who is this scret witness? A sergeant expelled for various reasons from the Armed Forces.[24] And some time after that he, though it might be wrong to criticize people for this, he converted to Christianity, just like Tuncay Güney.[25] Isn't this too much of a coincidence? Who is playing this game? If the Republic of Turkey intends to become a state under rule of law, answers must be found to these questions.

"There have been  persistent requests to have hard disc number 51 investigated by experts from research oganizations other than Tübitak, why has this option been blocked?[26]  

"And the most serious aspect of the matter is this; many of our friends, I cannot give all their names now, Muzaffer Tekin, Kemal Alemdaroğlu, then Levent, Doğan Temel, various friends, Serdar Öztürk, are ill and are in need of morale.[27] But these judges have no conscience. No matter what anyone says, I don't believe they have a conscience. My friends, how can anyone with a conscience insist on the continued detention of these sick people at a time when they are in greatest need of morale? No conscience! Well then, don't you even fear God? Of course... (from off: Levent Göktaş lost his eye.) Excuse me? (from off: Levent Göktaş lost his eye.)[28] Unfortunately! There are many friends. 

"Certainly, today and yesterday, a very important development has taken place in the State of the Republic of Turkey. With a law passed yesterday the Specially Assigned Courts have been buried in a pit.[29] I don't know how they will climb out of it. That these Specially Assigned Courts have been buried has naturally, certainly been a great contribution to the Turkish Republic's advancement, one more step, on the road to democracy. I would like to underline that.

"In conclusion, I will say this: the Repubic of Turkey is living through one of the most crucial periods of its history. Particularly in the area of justice there is unfortunately only one institution that still stands in its entirety- I underline the word 'entirety', we can't blame everybody- and that is the Constitutional Court. I am aware that the Constitutional Court has taken on a historic burden and responsibility in this process. I hope and I believe that the Constitutional Court will maintain its position as the witness of history which it has hitherto displayed through its just decisions and, continuing unerringly through the difficult times ahead of us, plays an important role in Turkey's speedy return to democracy. Certainly, certainly, the whole nation has shared our suffering in these trying times. Certainly. Our friends and families suffered with us, but others as well, such as those standing at both sides of me, to my right the President of the Turkish Bar Association, in a sense my teacher[30], to my left my lawyer İlkay Sezer, and our young lawyer ladies, to all of them I present my thanks, here before the Turkish nation, for their contributions throughout this process.

"There is only one thing we want. We want justice. Just as I have struggled on duty for the realization of this justice, just as I have struggled for it through the two years I spent here, so will I continue, now that I am out, until the last friend is released. I salute and offer my respects to all of you."

Gen. Başbuğ participated in the "Silent Scream" demonstration the very next day, March 8th 2014.[31] The usually genteel demonstration by the families imprisoned officers usually emanated the atmosphere of a cocktail. Başbuğ's presence filled the small space allotted for the demonstration beyond capacity. Aside from Ulusal channel, the press had rarely found the "Silent Scream" demonstrations newsworthy, but that day reporters and TV stations were there in force, training their batteries of cameras and microphones on the ex-Chief-of-Staff, completely crowding him in. I only caught a fleeting glance of him as he passed me in the crowd; for the rest of the time I couldn't see him, and his voice being not very powerful, I could hardly make out what he was saying! (The star orator of the "Silent Scream" demonstrations has been Mrs. Nurgül Örgen Özelçi, and again on that day we could hear her booming voice and make out her words clearly as soon as we disembarked from the ferry. To hear a sampling of her vocal performance, see "A Not-So-Silent Scream", 3 January-Ocak 2014). What I did witness was the enthusiastic public display of support for Gen. Başbuğ, and the shouts of "Başbuğ for president"- a harkening back to the times when the office of the presidency had been traditionally occupied by the last Chief of Staff. I still think that was a fitting custom; the Turkish presidency is a largely symbolic office with very little authority, the real power being in the hands of the prime minister and his party. It was not unfitting that this most honorable position of the Republic be held by one who has reached the highest office of the institution sworn to defend that Republic. Furthermore, it was all the more apt since the president is symbolically the supreme Commander-in-Chief.

Ret. Gen. İlker Başbuğ attended the "Silent Scream" demonstration in Beşiktaş, Iİstanbul, on March 8th, 2014, the day after his release from Silivri prison. His departure after his speech was made difficult by the enthusiastic crowd that completely surrounded his car.
(Image from my own camera.) 
More releases were expected but they did not follow instantly; it was the weekend and the judiciary needed its weekend break. To make sure the good resolutions did not slip from the minds of the judges after their quality time with the family at home, the Ulusal channel and the Aydınlık newspaper launched an appeal to gather in front of Silivri prison once again on Monday, March 10th 2014, to greet  the Ergenekon inmates as they step out to freedom. And once again, busloads of supporters came from around the country- the pressure of numbers would hopefully keep the authorities from backtracking! This time round, we went with our own car.

It was less crowded than on those previous landmark days (See: "Silivri", 18 December- Aralık 2012, "Silivri, 18-02-2013", 25 February- Şubat 2013, "To Silivri Again", 29 March-Mart 2013, "The Day Before", 7 April- Nisan 2013,   "Silivri- April 8th (Starters)", 8 April- Nisan 2013, "Provocation: Silivri April 8th", 13 April-Nisan 2013, and "Ergenekon Trials and Tribulations", 30 Ağustos-August 2013). but there was still a respectable number of people. It was cold, with wind and rain, and this drove the people into and around the tent of the "Silivri Watch" and the arcades of the mosque at the entrance to the housing of the prison staff, which made the numbers look less than they really were. The young defied the cold, forming rings and dancing while chanting witty lyrics. The "Specially Assigned Courts" were no more, so the decisions lay with the judges at the Palace of Justice at Çağlayan. We were only to learn later that the 13th Specially Assigned Criminal Court had objected to the parliamentary decision to close it, claiming the Parliament had no such authority, but this last ditch effort to avoid facing up to its sins fell on deaf ears; since the breakup of the AKP-Cemaat alliance, it no longer enjoyed the government's favour.

 
Outside the Silivri prison compound, March 10th 2014, waiting to welcome the released Ergenekon defendants. Cold, wind, rain and patience!
(Image from my own camera.)

People were trying to get the latest news from Çağlayan over their cell phones, and whenever there was anything new, they would pass it on. I heard from a man standing near me that the release of Tuncay Özkan and Levent Göktaş had been confirmed.[14 and 26] A little later there was a stir and a big cheer, with people embracing each other, tears in their eyes: news had arrived that the release of Doğu Perinçek, leader of the Labor Party, had also been confirmed. Fresh news put a damper on the good mood; Mr Perinçek's case was stil under review. At around 17:00 my head started spinning, and I was experiencing difficulty keeping my balance. The cold and wind had started to tell. We set out towards our car. We had walked only a little while when we heard a loud cheer behind us, like the home team had scored: Mr. Perinçek was a free man!

 
Doğu Perinçek addressing the press outside the Silivri prison compound after his release, March 10th 2014. To his right, Hasan Basri Özbey, vice chairman of the Labor Party, to his left, Ümit Zileli, Labor Party candidate for Şişli in the municipal elections.
(Image from the media.) 

After his release, Mr. Perinçek addressed the press thus:

"We salute our nation with respect and love.

"They imprisoned us for Ergenkon. To divide Turkey! To divide Turkey! And now we are coming out of Ergenekon. [33] We shall reunite Turkey.

"They imprisoned us in Ergenekon to bring down the Republic, to turn Turkey into a land of sheikhs, dervishes, disciples, fanatıcs, and religious communities.[34] Now we are coming out of Ergenekon, we will eradicate these communities, these sects, we will put the Republic back on its feet.

"I start by thanking you; we are released thanks to the great struggle of the fearless heroes, the vanguard, who came here and knocked down the barricades on December 13th 2012, April 5th 2013, and August 5th 2013.[35] 

" We are at the point of leaving Ergenekon right now. We are as unsheathed swords! We are prepared for our duties. We are prepared for our duties!

"Firstly! We will not let Turkey be divided. We will reunite Turkey!

"Secondly! We will not allow the destruction of our Republic!

"'Ergenekon' was not a setup directed towards us personally. The target was the Turkish nation. The target was the Turkish Republic. The target was Ataturk's reforms, it was the longing of the Turkish people for an up-to-date lifestyle. And to reach their aims they targeted two institutions: the Turkish Armed Forces and the Labor Party.

"We have come out veterans, nothing worse, we are coming out of Ergenekon as veterans. But those who targeted us are rotting and disintegrating, as you can well see.

"We will bring down their government, those who are splitting our country. We will establish the government of those who will unite it. We will bring down the rule of those who work for the destruction of our Republic, the rule of those like Tayyip Erdoğan, like Abdullah Gül, the rule of those like Fethullah Gülen, we will bring down all of them!

"We are like an unsheathed sword, I say it again! We are ready, ready for duties. You will see, our Turkey will advance to light, to relief, the conditions are excellent! They failed to divide Syria, failed to divide Iraq, Iran stands strong. They could not fulfill their aims in the Ukraine, they will be devastated by their failure. Autonomy, dividing up the Turkish homeland in these circumstances- in this they will not succeed!

"The conditions are very favorable, we will bring Ataturk's reforms to their absolute fulfillment. We will found an independent, united, up to date, populist, reformist Turkey! We embrace the whole of our nation. We present our respects and our love and say once more: these Ergenekons and Sledgehammers did not target our persons; they targeted our nation. And you can observe it, you can observe the spectacle that presents itself since we have been locked up: the spectacle of a divided Turkey! The spectacle of Turkey as a land of dervishes, religious communities, and disciples! We will uproot all of them, uproot all of them!
Love and respect to all of you, you are doing your duties in this rain. I thank you all very much and and offeri you my love and my respect."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z2qECiErE4

The releases followed each other in swift succession.

But we can't allow ourselves too much optimism, these releases do not mean acquittal. Gen. Başbuğ had been condemned to life, but now that verdict has been declared null and void- but he and all others have been released pending retrial! What's more, even as the releases follow each other in swift succession, there are new arrests, officers are being invited to surrender themselves to face the similarly fabricated "espionage" charges. And because they don't have a prime minister for a father, they do surrender![36] There is no denying that we owe these releases to the recent discord between Erdoğan's AKP and Fethullah Gülen's Cemaat, but this in no way implies that either party has suddenly become conscientious.
 



Right: We met this family at the "Silent Scream" demonstration of February 15th, 2014. Navy Maj. (Lieut. Commander) Hakan Çetnkaya, his wife Hatice Çetinkaya, and son Can. Maj. Çetikaya was a defendant in the Istanbul Espionage case, which hit the headlines even earlier than the better known İzmir case. The major was expecting a call to surrender himself to the authorities at any moment. The family was trying to make the most of every remaining moment of freedom the major had before him. Before that day's Silent Scream demonstration was over, the family received a call from their lawyer. The time had come, Maj. Çetinkaya would have to surender himself, and his family would have  no choice but to wait and hope, like the other "Silent Scream" families.
(Image from my own camera.)

Then something happened on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014. A fifteen year old lad named Berkin Elvan, hospitalized after receiving a gas cartridge on the head on June 16th, at the height of the Gezi uprising,
Berkin Elvan
died after lying unconscious for 269 days. He had reportedly been on his way to buy bread when a trigger-happy policeman, mistaking him for a demonstrator, fired a gas cartridge in his direction. When news of his deteriorating condition leaked out, sympathisers started gathering before the hospital at Okmeydanı, Istanbul on March 10th. The Gezi spirit, dormant since the summer, needed only a spark to flare up again. And flare up it did: when Berkin died the next morning, March 11th, the first clashes with the police erupted right in front of the hospital.


Riots broke out when news of young Berkin's death reached the crowds waiting outside. 
 Okmeydanı, Istanbul.
(Image from the media.) 

 
Wrong place at the wrong time: Ramazan Apaydın reportedly brought his wife to hospital and got stuck in the chaos.
(Image from the media.)

 Just like in the good ol' Gezi days: Ankara, March 11th 2014.
(Image from the media.)

İstiklal Caddesi (Pera), Istanbul, March 11th 2014.
(Image from the media.)

There was yet the funeral, and that was set for the 12th. Being Alawite, the funerary rituals would take place at the Alevi temple (cemevi) at Okmeydanı.[37] Crowds gathered in huge numbers- certainly not only Alevis, but all veterans and sympathisers of the Gezi cause, of which Berkin Elvan had become the latest- and youngest- martyr. The protests spread all over the country, as had the Gezi demonstrations in the past summer. On March 12th far to the east in Tunceli, it was a police officer who succumbed to the fumes of police gas: officer Ahmet Küçükdağ suffered heart seizure provoked by the gas, was hospitalized but the efforts were in vain. He was 30. In Okmeydanı, again the 12th, a group of Sunni fanatics charged into the Alevi crowd; a youth named Burak Can Karamanoğlu- a Sunni- died of a bullet that struck him in the head. He was only 22. Students in many schools refused to enter their classrooms. Discoloured pressurized water, choking gas, cartridges hitting skulls, gouged out eyes, the country went all out on Gezi nostalgia. Ah, the good old days! But all kidding aside, bit by bit, the mountain of iron seems to be melting away!
Berkin Elvan's emaciated body, reduced to 16 kg, carried by crowds, March 12th 2014.
(Image from the media.)

Funeral crowds blocking thoroughfare traffic near Şişli, Istanbul.
(Image from the media.)


  Berkin Elvan's funeral cortege, Şişli, İstanbul, March 2014.
(Image from the media.)



This cartoon which appeared in Aydınlık on March 12th 2014 gives a poetic interpretation to Berkin's death coinciding with the release of the Ergenekon defendants. 

"Why now, Berkin?"

"I waited for the release of those who would
take up my cause!"


(Cartoon by Mustafa Bilgin.)





[1] Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (The "Party of Justice and Progress"), the fundamentalist-Islamist party of Tayyip Erdoğan, holding absolute majority in parliament since 2002.

[2] Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (The "Republican People's Party"), the major opposition  party, favored by the secularist Kemalist electorate because it was founded by Kemal Ataturk himself. 
 [3] Özel Görevli Mahkeme.

 [4] The pressure and bad publicity forced the Ergenekon courts to some gestures of clemency.  Prof. Dr. Mehmet Haberal, founder-rector of Başkent University, Ankara, and elected member of parliament for the CHP while in custody in the elections of June 12th, 2011, was sentenced to 12 years and 16 months on August 5th, 2013, just under 4 years and 4 months after his arrest on April 13th, 2009, and was released through some kind of legal calculation that deducts  the years already spent in custody and waives the rest. Journalist Mustafa Balbay, also elected member of parliament in the same elections for the same party, was sentenced to 34 years and 8 months on August 5th 2013, 4 years after his arrest on March 6th 2009. Because the Ergenekon verdicts were still to be deliberated in the Appeals Court, he was released on December 9th, 2013 ostensibly to allow him to pursue his political activities. Prof. Dr. Fatih Hilmioğlu, former rector of İnönü University in Malatya, was arrested on April 13th, 2013, (the same day as Prof. Dr. Haberal- see "The Flag and the Ribbon", 30 May-Mayıs 2012) and was sentenced to 23 years on August 5th. He is suffering from advanced stages of cancer, and pressure groups pressed for his release. The Constitutional Court (Anayasa Mahkemesi) overrode the Silvri judges and released him on health grounds on February 20th, 2014.


[5] The claim was that the General Staff was setting up websites to propagate propaganda against the government.

[6] Ergenekon is really an ancient Turkish origins legend. Selecting this particular name for this fictitious terror organization and then arresting and convicting people for belonging to it adds insults to injury. The operation was against Turkey as a nation state, aiming to transform it into a religious community with no sense of nationhood, so it made practical sense to sully a national saga while purging potential opponants and resisters.

The Ergenekon legend recounts the Turkish people breaking out of a secluded valley by melting a mountain. An unexpected outcome of the slander, accusations, witchhunts and arrests in the name of the invented Ergenekon organization was to revive the legend that recounted entrapment and escape, particularly relevant to the proud intellectuals, journalists, academicians and officers behind bars.

[7] The president was to be elected by parliament. The AKP, holding absolute majority, insisted on pushing through its own candidate: Abdullah Gül, a fundamentalist-oriented president at the head of the secular Republic would be an ideological victory. The AKP exploited its majority to reach this end. For more on Abdullah Gül, see "A Pencil Jab that Hurt", 16 March-Mart 2013.

[8] The AKP majority in parliament brought Abdullah Gül to the presidency on August 28th, 2008. Chief of Staff Büyükanıt attempted to display some resistance; during the graduation day ceremony at the military medical school of GATA (Gülhane Askeri Tıp Akademisi- the "Gülhane Military Medical Academy") on August 29th, 2007, Gen. Büyükanıt pointedly neglected to salute the new president. The next day, during August 30th Victory Day Celebrations he bowed to duty and reluctantly gave the salute, giving President Gül the endorsement of the Armed Forces. See "A Turban by Any Other name", 16 July-Temmuz 2012.

Afterwards, Gen. Büyükanıt's attitude before the government has been seen as weak and subservient. Some trace his weakening stance to a private meeting with prime minister Erdoğan at the Dolmabahçe Palace on May 4th, 2007. There is talk of blackmail. Indeed, Gen. Büyükanıt was untouched by the Ergenekon, "Sledgehammer" and related witchunts while Gen. Başbuğ was hounded continuously, eventually ending in prison as a "terroist" leader. Gen. Büyükanıt even assumed responsibility (32. Gün TV program, May 4th, 2009) for having personally penned the strongly worded statement of April 27th, 2007 on the Genereal Staff website, mentioned above, but it was Gen. Başbuğ who stood accused of disseminating anti-government propaganda on the General Staff website. 

General Başbuğ served as chief of staff from August 2008 to 2010, and was arrested in January 2012.

Full Gen. Işık Koşaner, on the extreme right in the photo, became commander of the Land Army in August 2008 and chief of staff in 2010. He resigned on July 29th, 2011 to protest  the gratuituous arrests and unfair trials the officers in his command had to endure. See: footnote 12 of "Silivri, 18-02-2013", 25 February-Şubat 2013.  

[9] Gen. Başbuğ's response: "When subjected to such attacks, and note that these particular attacks are not founded in truth, going beyond criticism, when subjected to such attacks, the response of any army is obvious. This is valid for all armies. Therefore, my final words are as follows, I invite everyone to be careful, and to take their position in the limits of what is right..." Excerpt, October 15th 2008. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlCrg5wGGmE 

[10] Gen. Başbuğ's speech on board the frigate: "...some of the media in Turkey exist  to keep the Turkish Armed Forces unjustly in continous focus through prejudiced, calculated criticisms lacking any foundation in truth and thus conduct a campaign against the Turkish Armed Forces. While doing this they present themselves as the defenders of democracy... according to them the only way to defend democracy is through opposition to the Armed Forces... this in spite of the fact that the Armed Forces have declared their dedication to democracy and the rule of law. We are uncomfortable with this state of affairs. We relate our discomfort to competent and relevant authorities on every occasion and take whatever legal measures we can. One can't love one's country and conduct psychological warfare against the Turkish Armed Forces. To those conducting planned, unjust psychological warfare against the Turkish Armed Forces to serve their own agendas, I say this: the position you have taken is not right, and a vast majority of the Turkish nation is aware of what you are doing... There are attempts to link all recent terrorist acts with the Turkish Armed Forces. There is a new such attempt every day. The PKK, its  supporters and sympathizers may well try to establish such connections, but politicians, academicians and the media cannot, must not make such connections, should not speak with innuendos to this effect. The Turkish Republic upholds the rule of law. Everything is conducted according to the laws. There is no room for gossip and innuendo in a serious state operating under the rule of law....The Turkish Armed Forces cannot remain silent before unfair, unfounded accusations..." (Excerpt) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r_ogx5jtos

[11] "... The soldier cries 'Allah Allah' as he attacks. Now I am asking you this, I am asking this to those who have no conscience, how can army that makes its soldiers charge, that attacks with cries of 'Allah Allah' ever contemplate bombing a mosque, the house of Allah?" This is unscrupulousness. I curse these people. Can there be such a lack of conscience? I... this is the way it was at Çanakkale (Dardanelles), this is the way it was through the War of Independence, and this is the way it is today. The 'little Mehmet' (endearing diminutive for a private soldier) of this army attacks the enemy- in training of course- with cries of 'Allah Allah'. It's there in the field manual. It's there in the field manual. And such and army,  the members of such an army, are supposed to go and bomb a mosque, the house of Allah, and the people there, the people praying there will be...! I curse them! Again, members of such an army are supposed to do I don't know what and whatever against its own aircraft! I curse them! There is a limit to the patience of the Turkish Army! Now these soldiers are still on the field, weapon in hand, guarding this country and this nation. How can you accuse this army, all of it, in such a way? Have you no conscience at all?..." http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xbzhmr_ilker-basbug-taraf-balyoz-yalani-ve_news

 [12] The original words are  "Osman the Young dashes through saying 'Allah Allah'  (Allah Allah Deyip Geçer Genç Osman), a traditional heroic song about an underaged warrior of the battle for Baghdad in 1630-  not to be confused with the Sulttan Osman II, reigned 1619-1622, who was also known as "Osman the Young". The words and melody are attributed to a certain Kayıkçı Kul Mustafa who served in the cavalry during the same battle.  It became a Janissary band (Mehter) march and was adapted and performed by pop artist Barış Manço in the early 70's, thus entering everyday popular culture.  

[13]  A videoclip on the internet claims to reveal the reason for Gen. Başbuğ's arrest. Several versions of the clip claim it to be Chief of Staff Başbuğ's speech to Military Academy cadets in 2009, but keen observers will notice his epaulettes are missing the laurel leaf trimming proper to the chief of staff. The footage was actally shot during his speech at the start of the 2007-08 academic year,  two years previously, addressing Army cadets when he was still the commander-in-chief of the Army. Today one can appreciate the precision of his evaluations even more. Can we attribute his arrest in 2012 to this speech made four years earlier?

"For years we have been observing some marginal groups accumulate capital and make investments, establishing societies and foundations directed at gaining influence in instruction, education and finally  politics by exploiting religious sentiments.

"On the other side there is the fact of globalization progressively weakening the social aspect of states, diminishing their role of protector of large masses. It is equally true that  this pushes societies into banding up in religious communities. Gaining power, these communities start guiding the economy, transforming socio-political life, thereby introducing social identities based on a lifestyle dictaded by religion.

"These communities, plus the religious orders outlawed by article 677, are becoming the  centers of activities against (Ataturk's) Reforms.

"What we are attempting to focus on here is to prevent the abuse of sacred religious sentiments for matters of state, politics, personal or political gain or influence, as clearly stated in the preamble and article 24 of the Constitution.

"Another fact is the attempt to corrupt our national culture.

"We also witness that, in a portion of our society, there is an attempt to place our national culture on religious premises.

"Dear Academy cadets, we believe that these developments do harm to our nation-state structure. It is necessary to undertake a large scale struggle to protect secularism, that foundation of our constitutional system, to prevent the exploitation of religion for political or economic purposes, to rescue national education from such influences, to develop public awareness of such activities, and finally to protect our national culture from all negative influences. The struggle should begin in the fields of culture, instruction and education.

"Dear Academy cadets, there is only one way to protect the Republic and the reforms, and that is the Kemalist system of thought. 

"Defending the precepts of the Republic is not a matter for inner politics, it is a duty given to the Armed Forces by law, and when it comes to fulfilling his duty, a soldier does not have the choice or luxury of declining it.

"We observe that there are internal and external projects aimed at transforming Turkey. Those who are behind these projects see the Turkish Armed Forces as the greatest obstacle to their fulfillment.

"By claiming the Turkish Armed Forces interferes in politics, these circles wantto force the Armed Forces into silence in face of attacks on the three precepts of the constitutional system, especially vital to national defense, namely the nation-state, the unitary state, and the secular state.These circles are in great error.

"Those who try to generate conclusions based on the armed forces of other nations are ignorant of Turkish history and Turkish society, or else they have become foreign to  their own selves.

"Respectfully."

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xd96fd_ilker-basbug-un-kara-harp-okulu-aci_news

 [14] Tuncay Özkan is a journalist and author, Doğu Perinçek head of the Labor Party (İşçi Partisi, İP).

[15] That the "specially assigned" courts at Silivri were dissolved  on March 6th 2014, and that they had failed to submit their "reasoned decision" after the verdicts of August 5th 2013, as they were bound by law. See also footnote 2 of "To Err is Human", 26 January-Ocak 2014[

[16] "...currently popular expression...plots": allusion to a phrase in a newspaper article that appeared on December 24th 2013 in the newspaper Star. The author of the article was no less a figure than Yalçın Akdoğan, the prime minister's chief advisor. At the time the AKP was smarting from the "bribery and corruption" raids launched by Cemaat oriented elements of the police and judiciary, and Akdoğan blamed them for having previously "hatched a plot" against the armed forces. The opponents of the AKP regime seized upon these words as the first admission by a government official that the charges against the arrested officers were fake. I mentioned this in "A Not-So-Silent Scream", 3 January-Ocak 2014. 

[17] Gen. Başbuğ here implies that the Silivri prosecutors and judges, and the puppetmasters behind them, will bring on their own ruin because their motivations were hate and vengeance rather than justice, and refuses to fall in the same trap. The vengeance was for the theocratic state and lifestyle that the Kemalist reforms replaced.

[18] "We are full of love inside" might sound a bit like "flower power" to foreign ears and odd coming from a soldier, but Gen. Başbuğ is a defender of Kemalism, which he considers to be tolerant and open, and sets himself against the fundamentalist lifestyle, closed and xenophobic, advocated by his oppressors.


[19] Evidently planted bombs, denounced by a phone call, found in the attic of an old house in the Ümraniye district of Istanbul on June 12th, 2007, destroyed by court order before the defense could have them examined.

[20] On May 17th 2006, a psychologically disturbed lawyer with strong religious sentiments named Alparslan Arslan entered the State Council (Danıştay) building in Ankara, walked into the office of department head Mustafa Birden and fired eleven rounds of bullets on the occupants, wounding Birden and three others (Ayla Gönenç, Ahmet Çobanoğlu, Ayfer Özdemir)  and killing one (Mustafa Yücel Özbilgin). He had been incensed by the Council's resolution to ban religious headscarves to teachers in the classrooms (the controversial "turban" issue; see: "A Turban by Any Other Name...", 16 July-Temmuz 2012). Starting from December 2008, more than two years later, the Cemaat members in the police force and the judiciary cleverly linked the crime to the military and the fictitious "Ergenekon Terror Organization", experiencing no trouble producing the evidence and finding the necessary informants to incriminate whomever they targeted. One key witness was a criminal with a record, named Osman Yıldırım ("Secret Witness 9"), already in prison and standing trial in connection with this crime. On the ominous day of verdicts, August 5th 2013, he received 8 years and 9 months, and was then promptly released.

[21] Army Lieut. Mehmet Ali Çelebi was taken into custody on September 18th, 2008 during the Ergenekon witchunts for alleged membership in that fictitious "terror organization", remained in prison for close to three years before finally facing the judge. His rousing defence earned him the status of a hero. He was released pending trial and continued his military duties in the southeast while coming to Silivri for the hearings. (I had the honor of meeting him for the first time on March 11th, 2013.) He entered prison again when he received 16 years and 6 months on the "day of verdicts", August 5th, 2013. and was released on March 11th, 2014, just days  after Gen. Başbuğ.

The most memorable detail of Lt. Çelebi's story, and certainly what General Başbuğ was alluuding to, was the "accidental" loading of compromising telephone numbers onto Çelebi's cell phone while he was in custody. 139 telephone numbers connected to the Hizbut-Tahir terrorist organization were found in his telephone and used as evidence against him. The police later admitted that the numbers had nothing to do with Çelebi, that they had been loaded by "mistake" (November 21st, 2010, report of the Department for Organized Crime to the court). Çelebi was sentenced nevertheless. The police officer implicated in the incident (Hanefi Gökaydın) was aquitted on November 29th, 2013. 

Lt. Mehmet Ali Çelebi (with necktie, dead center) at the "tent" of the "Silivri Watch", before the prison compound, posing for photos with and for admirers on March 11th 2013, prior to going in for the hearing. The white haired gentleman at the right end of the posing group is the heroic Hıdır Hokka, creator and guardian of the "Silivri Watch".
(Image from my own camera.)  

Miss Kezban Merey met Lt. Çelebi during the trials. An affection developed that was mightier than prison walls.Çelebi was still in prison when they got married on October 30th 2014, at a time there was hardly a hope for early release (only three months after the verdicts and pointedly on the day following Republic Day.) CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (in photo, right) was a witness, in one of his few acts of overt support for imprisoned officers.
(Image from thr media.)

Lieut. Çelebi published  Teğmen ("The Lieutenant"), a detailed, no-holds-barred account of his experiences, in August 2014, recording for posterity the  details of the case against him and through that the crimes of the US-AKP-Cemaat operation against the secular Turkish Republic.

Lieut. Çelebî strikes back: a documentation for posterity.

[22] Hanefi Avcı was a police commissar who earned large public recognition with a controversial book, "The Simons Residing at the Golden Horn" (Haliçte Yaşayan Simonlar),
an exposé of the activities of the Fethullah Gülen "Community" (Cemaat) in the police force, of which he was a witness at close hand. The book was published in August 2010, when the Cemaat operations against officers, journalists and intellectuals were at a high point and the AKP-Cemaat partnership enjoyed perfect harmony. He was arrested on September 28th 2010 on allegations of membership in a radical left wing organization called "Revolutionary Headquarters" (Devrimci Karargâh), an absurd claim for a commissar known for his rough handling of leftist militants. There cannot be much doubt regarding the real reason for the arrest. He was sentenced to 15 years, 4 months and 5 days. In course of the releases-pending-retrial that are the topic of this article, Avcı was released on June 20th, 2014, just over three months after General Başbuğ. His tenure at Silivri prison was two months shy of four years. 

[23] Army Full Gen. Hurşit Tolon was retired on August 30th, 2003. He was taken into custody in course of the "6th wave" of the Ergenekon roundups and arrested after questioning on June 6th 2008, charged with membership in the fictitious Ergenekon organization. The "evidence" was a photocopied document found in his home "revealing" the Ergenekon chain of command- something the court found insufficient since this "document" had already appeared in the press and on the internet and was as such in the public domain, so that possessing it could be no proof. (Besides, knowing the methods of the Cemaat police, it's a simple matter to plant a few pages of photocopied documents.). The state prosecutors insisted but the court stood its ground and released Tolon, with the provision that he not leave the country. That was on February 9th, 2009, and by that time Tolon had already spent 7 months behind bars and his health had seriously deteriorated. 

To make the Ergenekon "Terror Organization" myth believable at all, it was necessary to link some crimes to it. There was the ongoing case of the Zirve murders. "Zirve" was the name of a publishing house in Malatya, specializing in the publication of Christian bibles. A group of fanatics raided it on April 18th 2007, murdering three by slitting their throats. (One was a German national, Tilman Ekkehart Geske.) All four assailants had been captured.

Four years later the prosecutors decided to link up this atrocity with the "Ergenekon terror organization". (This is transparently the same tactic as the "State Council Murder", mentioned in  footnote 19 above). 20 names were rounded up on March 17th, 2011. Tolon was also dragged into the case on January 18th, 2013, based on the testimony of "secret witness" İlker Çınar, himself a defendant and in prison, and susceptible to providing false testimony when offered leniency. Hurşit Tolon was sentenced to life imprisonment on the Silivri day of verdicts, August 5th 2013. He was released on June 11th 2014, three months after Gen. Başbuğ. 

[24] For "secret witness" İlker Çınar see also footnote 8 of "Adultery and Espionage", 28 April-Nisan 2013.  

[25] Tuncay Güney was under arrest for a common crime when the police "found" documents related to the "Ergenekon Terror Organization" in his office. In his questioning he obligingly gave incriminating testimony which led to the first waves of arrests of the Ergenekon witchhunt. He was released on bail, somehow exited Turkey (though being on bail, he shouldn't have been able to), re-emerged in the US, where he converted first to Christianity, and now lives a gay existence (pun intended) in Toronto, Canada. Appearing on a TV show on February 8th, 2013 from the safety of Canada through sattelite link, he freely admitted that his testimony had been made under duress and that his accusations had been false. I mention Tuncay Güney and the TV interview in “Makes You Want to Scream”, 12 February- Şubat 2013 and refer to him again in "Ergenekon Trials and Tribulations", 30 August-Ağustos 2013.

[26] Much of the evidence of the Ergenekon and Balyoz ("Sledgehammer") cases and their spinoffs were based on digital files, actual computer data doctored to incriminate the targeted persons. The defendants and their lawyers have carefully listed and pointed out anomalies and inconsistencies, but the all fell on the deaf ears of the prosecutors and judges. There was a hard disc number 5 ("Sledgehammer") and a DVD number 51 (Izmir Adultery and Espionage case); Gen Başbuğ here confuses the two. 

DVD Number 51 was allegedly found in the office of retired Special Forces Col. Mustafa Levent Göktaş during a police raid on January 7th 2009. Though it was purported to contain incrimimating files, the contents proved inaccessible because of a surface crack. The police obligingly provided a copy- produced on Dec. 31st 2008, a week before it was "found". Col. Göktaş nevertheless received 20 years 9 months on the "day of verdicts", August 5th 2013.

Hard disc number 5 was found, where it had apparently been planted, during the raid on the Naval Base at Gölcük on Dec. 6th, 2010. The lawyers asked for the investigation of the hard disc by Tübitak, the "Science and Research Foundation of Turkey", but the judges refused. Much later, in the Ergenekon related Poyrazköy case (a find of hidden arms, allegedly planted by the Ergenekon clique), the judges finally acquiesced. The Tübitak report of January 20th 2014  confirmed that the authenticity of the data was highly suspect and unreliable as evidence. The same organization had submitted a very different report back in June 2010, leading the defendants and their lawyers to demand expert opinions from independent research organizations.

Gen. Başbuğ's suspicion of Tübitak as an organization under pressure to do the government's bidding has basis in fact. It is worth noting that the report supporting the defendants came after the falling out between the AKP and Fethullah Gülen's Cemaat, which exploded on Dec. 17th with the police raid into the homes of the sons of AKP bigwigs. In the ensuing fued, the Cemaat published incriminating voice taps of the AKP leadership, including prime minister Erdoğan telling his son Bilal to "clear out the money". Erdoğan lashed back, playing musical chairs with the police chiefs, hurling insults at erstwhile chum Gülen, banning You Tube, and then launching a whitewashing operation for which Tübitak obligingly gave an expert report on June 6th 2014 that the sound taps were falsifications, edited together to create sentences never uttered.  

[27] Ret. Army Capt. Muzaffer Tekin, holder of gold medal for bravery from the 1974 Cyprus campaign. His name was connected to the Ergenekon "terror organization" through the "State Council murder" (see footnote 20 above)  sentenced to twice life without parole  plus 117 years 1 month on the Ergenekon "day of verdicts", August 5th 2014. He was hospitalized on Feb. 11th 2014 for pancreas cancer. His release eventually came on March 10th, 2014.

Prof. Kemal Alemdaroğlu, rector of Istanbul University, received 15 years and 8 months on August 5th, 2013. He was moved to intensive care on January 29th 2014 for infections contracted in prison conditions. (His age, 75, made him more susceptible.) His release came on March 11th 2014.

Then Gen. Başbuğ just gives just the fırst name: "Levent" is probably be Ret. Brig. Gen of the Gendarmerie Levent Ersöz, connected to the Ergenekon case through alleged involvement in the raid to the Zirve publishing house. (See footnote 23). He was denounced by "secret witness" İlker Çınar (see footnote 23 above and also footnote 8 of "Adultery and Espionage", 28 April-Nisan 2013.) With Çınar's compliant testimony the prosecutors involved him in the death by heart failure of president Turgut Özal in back in 1993. Having attempted to evade capture, he was arrested in hospital under a false identity. The identity was false but the sorry state of his health was real; he has spent almost his entire captivity in hospital. He suffered from coronary insufficiency, hypertension, sleep apnea, prostate problems, plus a pulmonary infection. He was condemned to 22 years and 6 months on August 5th, 2013. His release came lon March 11th, 2014.

Ret. Lieut. Gen. Doğan Temel received 16 years in the "Sledgehammer" case on Sept. 22nd, 2012.  (See "Sledgehammer Verdicts", 22 Eylül-September 2012.)  Though he suffered from cancer, the Institute of Legal Medicine was reluctant  to allow his hospitalization. He was given his freedom much later,  June 18th 2014 Costitutional Court decision to release all remaining "Sledgehammer" inmates.

Ret. Army First Lieut. Serdar Öztürk, later lawyer, was wounded in action during an operation against PKK insurgents in northern Iraq in 1994, was decorated for bravery but discharged from the army by reason of his damaged health, after which he studied law. While defending Mustafa Levent Göktaş (see footnotes 26 & 28) during the Ergenekon hearings, he was himself charged and arrested on June 7th 2009, within the famework of the same case. He suffered from sleep apnea, and again, faced intransigent judges on the question of hospitalization. His release came on March 11th 2014.

[28] Ret. Special Forces Col. and later lawyer Mustafa Levent Göktaş,  member of the team that arrested PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in Kenya and brought him back to Turkey, where he was tried and sentenced to death. (With the abolition of the death penalty, Öcalan's sentence was commuted to life, and the US- backed AKP regime, with support of the so-called opposition, has allowed Öcalan extraordinary negotiating powers from captivity.) The notorious DVD Number 51 was allegedly found on Col. Göktaş's desk. (See footnote 26 above.) He was hospitalized in May 2012 for a cataract operation which went bad; his vision was reduced to %30 in his right eye. Col. Göktaş was sentenced to 20 years and 9 months on August 5th, 2013.  He was released on March 10th, 2014. 

[29] The "Specially Assigned Courts" (Özel Görevli Mahkeme) were created in 2004 (officially June 30th), replacing the National Security Courts (DGM- Devlet Güvenlik Mahkemeleri) which tried crimes against the existing order. The National Security Courts included military men among their members and were criticized as undemocratic by the EU states, which presented it as a block against Turkey's membership in the Union. The new "Specially Assigned Courts" were nothing more than a tool for the new Islamist administration to hound and pacify the secular Kemalist elite, clearing the way for the wholesale transformation of Turkey into an Islamist theocracy. This was an operation that enjoyed the full support of the US which had (and has) a far reaching plan to transform the Middle East according to its wishes, to which end they invented and promoted an oddity called "moderate Islam". (Translation: fanatical, but moderate towards US/globalist wishes!) The new  "Specially Assigned Courts" were manned by judges and prosecutors raised in the teachings of Fethullah Gülen's cult (the Cemaat) and acted unscrupulously in their zeal to destroy the secular Republic. The operation went swimmingly, with full cooperation of prime minister Erdoğan's AKP until the great fallout between the partners culminating with the Cemaat police raiding the homes of the sons of the AKP elite.

The "Specially Assigned Courts"  were supposedly dissolved in July 2012 but allowed to continue until the completion of the cases already in hand. With the not negligible effort of president of the Bar Association, Metin Feyzioğlu (and precious little support from the parliament, including the opposition), decision was finally eached to do away with these "Specially Assigned Courts" altogether. See: footnote 2 of "To Err is Human", 26 January-Ocak 2013.

[30] Metin Feyzioğlu 

[31] "Silent Scream" (Sessiz Çığlık) is the name of weekly demonstrations spearheaded by the wives and relatives of imprisoned officers. I mentioned this determined series of protest actions in  "Now It's Our Shift", 6 Kasım- November 2012, "Hammering the Sledgehammer", 5 February-Şubat 2012, "Makes You Want Yo Scream", 12 February- Şubat 2013, "Devouring His Own Children", 19 February- Şubat 2013, "A Voice from the Silent Scream", 30 September-Eylül 2013, and "A Not-So-Silent Scream",  3 January-Ocak 2014.

[32] Doğu Perinçek, leader of the Labor Party (İşçi Partisi, literally "The Workers' Party") had been arrested following a police raid in to his home in the very early hours of March 21st, 2008. His aggressive defense, in course of which he roundly accused the court of treason in the service of US interests, was recorded, smuggled out of court, and published. He received life withut parole on the Ergenekon "day of verdicts", August 5th, 2013. Hisson, Mehmet Perinçek, was also arrested as an Ergenekon defendant, and like his father was incarcerated in Silivri from August 10th 2012 until August 5th, 2014.

[33] Ergenekon is really a legend regarding the origin of the Turks. According to the legend, the Turkish people, trapped in a valley completely surrounded by mountains, managed to break free by producing a huge fire that melted a montain composed of iron ore. Selecting this name for the fictitious terror organization that would furnish the excuse to arrest patriots not only adds insult to injury, but  further serves the cause of the planners of the hoax by associating Turkish national feelings with terrorism. Those who have resisted and challenged the frame up have found new meaning in the legend, likening the whole Ergenekon witchhunt and smear campaign, as well as the "Sledgehammer", Espionage and related cases that followed, to the Ergenekon valley, from which the nation would eventually break free. This is the significance of Mr. Perinçek's words "...and now we are coming out of Ergenekon." 

[34] Mr Perinçek is making a direct reference to Ataturk's words: "Friends, gentlemen, nation,  know well that the Turkish Republic cannot be a land of sheikhs, dervishes, disciples and fanatics. The greatest, the truest sect is the sect of civilization." Mr. Perinçek has added "cemaat" ("religious community"), obviously calling attention to Fethullah Gülen's Cemaat, which has been been orchestrating the trumped-up charges, the fabricated evidence, the false witnesses and the sham courts through its moles in the police and the judiciary. 

[35] As recounted in "Silivri", 18 December- Aralık 2012, "Provocation: Silivri April 8th", 13 April-Nisan 2013, and "Ergenekon Trials and Tribulations", 30 Ağustos-August 2013. Mr Perinçek says "April 5th", which is probably a slip of the tongue. It should be April 8th 2013, when the crowd literally toppled and overran the barriers.

[36] When police raided the homes of the sons of prominent AKP politicians on December 17th, 2014, uncovering stashes of improbably large sums of money- also safes and bill-counting machines, one of the homes belonged to Bilal Erdoğan, the prime  minister's own son. Unlike the hundreds of officers who obediently surrendered and found themselves imprisoned for years on false charges, Bilal Erdoğan disappeared from view for a few weeks, then reemerged, safely seated next to his father in the prime minister's official car. Bizarrely, he enjoyed not only the approval, but  the applause of AKP supporters.

[37]  Alevism is a branch of Islam, a version of Shiite Islam found mainly in Turkey and holding a secondary position to the more numerous Sunnis. Alevis practice their faith not in a mosque but a "cemevi" ("djem-evee"), of which there are disproportionately few in Turkey- whereas there is a mosque around practically every corner, with more mushrooming daily. The Islamist government of prime minister Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP, tools of the "moderate Islam" concept of the US, are Sunnites, and as such are viewed with extra suspicion by the Alawite minority. Indeed, the young people who lost their lives during the Gezi uprising were almost exclusively Alawites.