26 Ocak 2014 Pazar


ENGLISH (Bu yazıyı Türkçe okumak için bkz.: "Hatasız Kul Olmaz", 12 Şubat 2014.)

We ask for justice, we get just this!
This blog has been full of conspiracy theories, in such a way that disbelieving one necessarily affirmed the other. In the first weeks of this blogging adventure, I wrote the following lines:

Many people are sceptical of conspiracy theories, and rightly so! But in my country, you can’t avoid them; either you believe the government, which claims to have unveiled several wide-ranging conspiracies against itself, and has been conducting a string of razzias for the last four years, or you believe the suspects who claim they are victims of an intricate frame-up!

From "May 19th- Celebrating at All Costs", 18 May-Mayıs 2012.

Just browse through the contents of this blog; you'll see that the history of the AKP rule has been the history of the organized and planned dismantling and dismemberment of the Turkish Republic through the arrest and incarceration of the cream of the Kemalist establishment using planted evidence and highly dubious witnesses; informants sometimes denouncing anonymously by telephone, (see footnote 3 of "The Dardanelles broken Through", 19 March-Mart 2013) ,sometimes by e-mail (as in the "adultery and espionage" case, see footnote 1 of "Adultery and Espionage", 28 April-Nisan 2013). Quite often, the denunciations came from disreputable people, even convicts in prison, who could easily be persuaded to make incriminating statements against targeted defendants to suit the wishes of the authorities, as each case required, and receive favourable treatment in return. (See: footnote 9 of "Makes You Want to Scream", 12 February-Şubat 2013, and footote 8 of "Adultery and Espionage", 28 April-Nisan 2013). 
The AKP did not do any of this alone; it had the backing of the US and a partner in crime in the cult of Fethullah Gülen, the muslim cleric enjoying American hospitality in his Pennsylvania home. Gülen extended a helping hand to young people of limited means, providing homes first in a network of "Houses of Light" (Işık Evi), helping with their education, and then ushering the converts into the government, primarily the police and the judiciary. 

The US master plan for the new Middle East- the "Greater Middle East Project" hatched at a think tank somewhere (Rand Corporation, starting 1989, see footnote 18 of "April 23rd and the 'National Center'", 2 May-Mayıs 2013), required the replacement of the secular-nationalist Turkish Republic by a "moderate Islam" theocratic model that would hold Islamic principles above national interests and would be a suitable Western-friendly servant that would shepherd the neighbouring muslim states into peaceful subservience to US (and Israeli?) policies- against Iran too, when it came to that! (My most detailed evaluation of the AKP era in Turkey was: "Ergenekon Trials and Tribulations", 30 August-Ağustos 2013.)

The AKP and the Gülen "community", or Cemaat ("djemaat") have been carrying out this sinister operation of discrediting the Republic, its achievements, its founders, and its defenders for years, with the full collusion of a press and media apparatus bound to the new regime through self interest. (The media barons are businessmen with their self interests married to the interests of the government!) With each new roundup, every honourable name besmirched with slander, the writers, program hosts and commentators of the "collaborationist" media scrambled to spew their venom with the kind of unscrupulous abandon that would put the Vichy regime to shame. Prime Minister Erdoğan and his minions in the government clearly relished the Ottoman vengeance they were wreaking on the Republic. Always in adulation of  the honourable Gülen, always in close partnership throughout the witchhunts conducted by the Gülen "Community" police and court hearings conducted by the same "Community"'s prosecutors and judges, prime minister Erdoğan and the AKP never expressed a shade of doubt that the judiciary procedure, the kangaroo court at Silivri, was anything other than just.

Alice faces the Red Queen in the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. (1951).

"Sentence first, verdict afterwards!" says the Red Queen, foreshadowing the style of the Ergenekon judges. I shared this still a long time ago, 
in "May 19th,Celebrating at All Costs", 18 May- Mayıs 2012. 

The Gülen-Erdoğan partnership was going just fine until December 17th, 2013, when a series of police razzias, reminiscent of the hottest days of the Ergenekon and "Sledgehammer" witchhunts, shook the headlines. This time, the target was no longer the secular opponents of the Islamist AKP, but the AKP itself, its ministers, and influential supporters. The sons of three ministers were caught with huge amounts of hard cash stashed in bedrooms, and a fourth minister was personally accused of accepting bribes. Prime Minister Erdoğan called "foul", and started hurling accusations at Fethullah Gülen, whose infiltration in the police and judiciary had been once been so helpful for his regime, and had suddenly become so threatening! (See: Epilogue for 2013, the last part of the article "Closing the 'Gezi' Year", 23 December-Aralık 2013, and "A Not-So-Silent Scream", 3 January-Ocak 2014.) The tragedy that had led to the unfair imprisonment of so many turned into a farce as  Prime Minister Erdoğan and the AKP power apparatus scrambled hurled accusations at the Gülen "community", calling it a "parallal state", and shuffled police inspectors and state prosecutors around in an almost comical attempt to contain the damage. Then he graft and bribery investigations reached his own son, Bilâl Erdoğan, who was called in for interrogation. The prime minister's son simply vanished from the scene, in striking contrast to the officers who obediently returned from overseas duties to testify, and who, after extended trials on nonsensical charges, found themselves condemned to improbably long prison sentences. (See the last photo of "Devouring his Own Children", 19 February-Şubat 2013.) Then Bilal Erdoğan did make an appearance- on January 10th, safe and unviolable inside his father's official car.

The imam of Pennsylvania and the prime minister of Turkey;
two faces of one and the same thing.
I published this image more than 9 months ago; 
see: "April 23rd and the National Center", 2 May-Mayıs 2013. 
So since the start of the first Ergenekon arrests, the AKP had claimed it was uncovering "conspiracies" against itself, the targeted defenders of the secular Republic have persistently claimed the Ergenekon and similar "conspiracies" were inventions, falsifications, instruments of the real "conspiracy", aiming to undermine the secular Republic, the nation state,  and was staged by the AKP-Gülen-US triumvirate. Today prime minister Erdoğan is personally declaring to all and sundry that he and his regime are the victims of a "conspiracy" staged by Gülen and the US and- wait for it- that these were the very same "conspirators" as had set their snares for the journalists, intellectuals and officers of the Republic- as if he and the AKP had nothing to do with it!

I had to laugh when I saw the headline of the Aydınlık of January 14th, 2014. AKP Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ speaking about the Ergenekon-Balyoz cases was saying was now saying "We Made a Mistake". According to the related article, Mr. Bozdağ had spoken thus: "We too have made a mistake. When the investigations and interrogations were directed at others, we should have rased our voices a bit higher. Just because we did this then, it does not mean one should insist on it today." Oh, so it was a mistake was it? That makes it alright then!

Headline of Aydınlık, January 14th, 2014.

That's alright, to err is human!

Amazingly, prime minister Erdoğan goes even further in denial. In his effort to parry the legal assault by the Gülen community, he attempts to expose it while simultaneously conjuring the illusion that neither he nor the AKP ever had anything to do with the corrupting of the judiciary through the Gülen "Community"'s moles. Visiting Brussels soon after the embarrassments of December, and trying to justify his actions against his own country's judiciary, he went as far as to say he and the AKP had been "uneasy about judicial practices in the cases relating to Türkân Saylan, Ahmet Şık, and Nedim Şener," but had been reluctant to appear to be intervening in the independence of the judiciary, because of their "good will"; a "good will" that was now being "exploited". This is the kind of hogwash that would make Pinocchio's nose shoot out the window and bang against the building across the street. (News item: http://www.sabah.com.tr/Gundem/2014/01/22/saylan-sener-ve-sik-davalarinda-uyardik ) It is amazing that he thinks he can so easily wash his hands of the injustice to the names he mentions. [1]

The arrests were done with the full awareness and approval of prime minister Erdoğan and the AKP, and the prime minister's attempts to disassociate himself from them at this late stage should fool no one. We have come a long way from the time he countered German Chancellor Angela Merkel's queries regarding imprisoned journalist with the following words:  “...in reality, journalsts in custody in Turkey are no more than the number of fingers, and it is not because of their writings that they are in custody. It is either for attempted coup, or being involved in a coup attempt, or possession of an illegal weapon or acting in conjuction with the terror organization.” (Less than a year ago, on February 25th, 2013. See footnote 2 of "Say It With Ribbons", 24 March-Mart 2013.) 

One would think it is too late to make such an about-face
and still hope no one notices. It is true that he is the victim of a plot right now, that the Gülen "community" has become a "parallel state", that the police and the judiciary have been corrupted, but it was all done in collusion with Erdoğan and the AKP. It is true that the evil that was tolerated, even nurtured, has grown beyond control. But being victim of a monster does not acquit the prime minister and the governing party fom the responsibility of having created it. 

There has been much written and published on the AKP-Gülen-US operation for the transformation of the Turkish Republic, how the operation evolved, its further aims in the region,  its roundups and trials with falsified evidence and unreliable witnesses. That the AKP could pretend ignorance of any sleazy aspect of its eleven corrupt years in power is atently absurd. Here are some books on sale during a Silent Scream rally; they are also readily available in regular booksholops.
(Image from my own camera.)
Neither does the existence of a "parallel state" imply that the allegations of graft and bribery are untrue. From Ottoman times onwards, right through the Republic, Turkey has been susceptible to corruption, a part of it being the lenient attitude of the society that too easily turns a blind eye to an offence. The idealist has always clashed with the opportunist, and leniency has made things tough for the man of principle. Ataturk was the tower of integrity, and what critics see as his "deification" is really the seeming unattainability of the example he set- few of even the staunchest Kemalist would be willing to impose such uncompromising standards on themselves. The ethics of Islam can seem simpler- physical rules like going through the motions of five daily prayers while incanting Arabic formulae by rote and a pilgrimmage to Mecca will atone for sins with no need for nitpicking about tax evasion and a few dollars slipped to grease the wheels of self-interest, and the reward will be heaven with seventy two virgins for each saved soul. So not only was the idealism of the Republic difficult to maintain, religion was the easiest way to undercut it. Turkish society has ever been fertile soil for seeds of evil; easily neglected and overlooked by a society given to little white and off-white lies, allowing evils to take root and grow quickly. One would do well to see the periods of chaos that led to military interventions in this light. 

 Cars parked along a one-way street in Istanbul. Just a harmless bending of the rules!
(Image from my own camera.)

I keep remembering the story of the baobabs in "The Little Prince" (Le Petit Prince), that excellent book by the philosopher-pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

"...Indeed, as I learned, there were on the planet where the little prince lived– as on all planets– good plants and bad plants. In consequence, there were good seeds from good plants, and bad seeds from bad plants. But seeds are invisible. They sleep deep in the heart of the earth’s darkness, until some one among them is seized with the desire to awaken. Then this little seed will stretch itself and begin– timidly at first– to push a charming little sprig inoffensively upward toward the sun. If it is only a sprout of radish or the sprig of a rose-bush, one would let it grow wherever it might wish. But when it is a bad plant, one must destroy it as soon as possible, the very first instant that one recognizes it.

"Now there were some terrible seeds on the planet that was the home of the little prince; and these were the seeds of the baobab. The soil of that planet was infested with them. A baobab is something you will never, never be able to get rid of if you attend to it too late. It spreads over the entire planet. It bores clear through it with its roots. And if the planet is too small, and the baobabs are too many, they split it in pieces...
"'It is a question of discipline,' the little prince said to me later on. 'When you’ve finished your own toilet in the morning, then it is time to attend to the toilet of your planet, just so, with the greatest care. You must see to it that you pull up regularly all the baobabs, at the very first moment when they can be distinguished from the rosebushes which they resemble so closely in their earliest youth. It is very tedious work,' the little prince added, 'but very easy'.
"And one day he said to me: 'You ought to make a beautiful drawing, so that the children where you live can see exactly how all this is. That would be very useful to them if they were to travel some day. Sometimes,' he added, 'there is no harm in putting off a piece of work until another day. But when it is a matter of baobabs, that always means a catastrophe. I knew a planet that was inhabited by a lazy man. He neglected three little bushes...' 

"So, as the little prince described it to me, I have made a drawing of that
planet. I do not much like to take the tone of a moralist. But the danger of
the baobabs is so little understood, and such considerable risks would be run by
anyone who might get lost on an asteroid, that for once I am breaking through
my reserve. 'Children,' I say plainly, 'watch out for the baobabs!'"

Neglecting to weed out the baobabs in time can cost you your planet.
From "The Little Prince" (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,
illustrated by the author himself.

The horror of retrograde fundamentalism that allowed the ascent of the AKP-Gülen alliance grew from neglecting to weed away the dangerous saplings of evil as they grew; prime minister Erdoğan's AKP,  a mighty baobab,  has allowed the Gülen baobab to grow so big and strong that the two giant trees are ready to tear the remaining land apart in an effort to uproot each other.

As I said, the fact that the sudden launching of the graft and bribery investigations and related raids are a "conspiracy" against prime minister Erdoğan and the AKP government does not exonerate the prime minister, the government, the sons, the lackeys, and the whole corrupt lot. Justice was willing to turn a blind eye as long as there was harmony between the partners of the unholy alliance. The "conspiracy" against the prime minister and the AKP is a "conspiracy" only in the sense that one partner in crime is spilling the beans against the other- and the beans have been there all the time!

So whereas the prime minister is right when he speaks of a "conspiracy", his critics are also right in accusing him of attempting to obstruct justice.

Prime minister Erdoğan has resorted to his usual tactic- shouting down his critics. He shoots venom against Gülen, who shoots it right back, he accuses anyone critical of his practices of treason, he presents his intransigence and his brazen flaunting of justice as a sign of "strong willpower"- billboards of a stern faced Erdoğan with just those two words were plastered all over the city- and probably other cities as well. 

"Strong Willpower"; a euphemism for despotic disregard for justice.
Billboard near the Meydan shopping center, Istanbul. The same image is on the reverse. 
(Image from my own camera.)

 It's everywhere: the prime minister's "strong willpower" proclaimed where the peripheral to the First Bosphorus Bridge overpasses the E-5 in Istanbul.
(Image from my own camera.) 

The duel between prime minister Erdoğan and the AKP on one side and the Gülen community on the other may have exposed the falsifications behind the Ergenekon, "Sledgehammer", Adultery and Espionage, and related "conspiracy" cases, and brought hope to the families of the victims, but the government, for all its denunciation of Gülen's "parallel state", is not too hasty about rectifying the wrong. Worse, neither are the opposition parties CHP and MHP. When Metin Feyzioğlu, head of the Turkish Bar Association, came up with a legal formula to grant the convicted inmates retrials, and this without being kept in custody between hearings, the opposition should have seized the occasion. Instead, CHP chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and MHP chief Devlet Bahçeli seemed to be fishing for excuses not to support it. [2]

CHP's Kılıçdaroğlu and MHP's Bahçeli immediately obstructed the positive development with arguments that made little sense, mainly to the effect that it could turn into a tradeoff for releasing convicted PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Why am I not surprised? Kılıçdaroğlu and Bahçeli have not only been pathetically weak in opposition, they have provided the AKP support in some of the most controversial issues. They shout and exclaim to give an impression of strong opposition but their supporters would do well to pay attention to what they are not saying, and not to read too much into their words. I am convinced that Kılıçdaroğlu and Bahçeli are not there to provide effective opposition but rather to defuse any rising discontent. The CHP (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, the "Republican People's Party") commands the Kemalist vote- it was the party of Mustafa Kemal himself- and the MHP (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, the "Nationalist Movement Party") attracts more traditionalist (Ottoman-Islamist) nationalists. By appealing to their electorate through rethoric while refraining from taking action, they make the opposition vote meaningless. (The remaining party in the parliament, the BDP- Barış ve Demokrasi Partisi, the "Party of Peace and Democracy"- will collaborate with anyone to fulfill its Kurdish-separatist agenda.) 

On October 25th 2013 CHP chairman Kılıçdaroğlu met and spoke with US ambassador Francis Ricciardone, not at the US Embassy, not at the CHP offices, not at a conference, but in a hotel, with only interpreters present. He travelled to the US from November 30th until December 4th 2013, delivering speeches and making contacts, including names close to the Gülen "community". Interestingly, reporters of the Sözcü newspaper, the prime supporter of the CHP and
often apologist to Kılıçdaroğlu, were not invited.

The Sözcü of November 27th, 2013,
complaining that "Kılçdaroğlu had become like Tayyip (Erdoğan)". The chairman of the CHP had not invited the reporters of the newspaper that gave him and his party the greatest support. Would there be meetings and talks he wouldn't want his Kemalist electoral base to know?
This was Mr.Kılıçdaroğlu's first visit
to the US since becoming the head of the CHP over three years ago. (May 22nd, 2010). Comparisons to Tayyip Erdoğan's US visits before becoming prime minister, reaching back to times before the founding of the AKP, were inevitable. (Erdoğan visted George Bush on and around December 10th 2002; his party had come to power on November 3rd, but being banned at the time from political activity he was not yet prime minister. According to sources on the internet, Tayyip Erdoğan had previously visited the US on: April 17-21 1995, 17-22 November 1996, March 1st 1996, July 16th 2000. The AKP was not founded until August 14th, 2001.) 

 CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu speaking at the Brookings Institutution , the US policy think-tank, during his US visit in December 2013.
(Image from the media.)

Kılıçdaroğlu returned to Ankara on December 5th. The "graft and bribery" operation was launched on the 17th. Kılıçdaroğlu was a luncheon guest of ambassador Ricciardone at the US Embassy on the 19th.

Kılıçdaroğlu has been attacking prime minister Erdoğan and the AKP for corruption and obstructing justice, which is fine and good and gathers points from his electorate, but makes no reference to the Gülen-controlled "parallel state" within the police and the judiciary. His reluctance to back Feyzioğlu's proposals for securing the release of the victims of the witchhunts as soon as possible can be seen as holding back from challenging the Gülen "community" and its "justice". There is more than enough evidence to suggest Kılıçdaroğlu is offering up himself and his party as the next US puppet, and agreeing to act in concert with the Gülen community and by inference keep carrying out the "moderate Islam" startegy. The volatile Erdoğan is capable of whipping up a full scale uprising against himself with his aggressive and insulting style, and the Gezi uprising of June 2013 made it clear what a great a liability he had become (See "Closing the 'Gezi' Year", 23 December-Aralık 2013), so it is to be expected that the US would look for an alternative. Furthermore, though the US is still convinced of the validity of its "moderate Islam" strategy, the strong resistance displayed by the secular nationalist Kemalists demonstrated that Ataturk's Republic could not be so readily dismantled in favor of a neo-Ottoman theocracy. The CHP with its Kemalist heritage now seems a viable alternative, if it is only willing to enlist to the "moderate Islam" game. Kılıçdaroğlu appears to be eager to give the US all the affirmative answers.

The victims of the "conspiracy" trials, the officers' families and others, are once again left in a lurch as the CHP and MHP concentrate on the "graft and corruption" allegations and the AKP's obstruction of justice- which could be read, if you will, as trying to remove Prime Minister Erdoğan and the AKP from the Turkish political scene while leaving the Gülen "community"- the other baobab- intact. The weekly "Silent Scream" (Sessiz Çığlık) demonstrations of the imprisoned officers' families continue their mission- the 71st rally took place last Saturday, February 1st  2014. 

Journalist Mustafa Balbay speaking at the "Silent Scream" rally, February 1st, 2014 at Beşiktaş, Istanbul, two months after his release. He was arrested on March 6th, 2009 for "conspiring to overthrow the government". 
Mr Balbay was interned at the Silivri prison during the extended trials. Balbay was kept in behind bars even after his election as member of parliament for the CHP on June 12th 2011, a fate he shared with Prof.Dr. Mehmet Haberal and Ret. Lieut. Gen. Engin Alan who were elected members of parliament at the same elections, Haberal for the CHP and Alan for the MHP. The Ergenekon verdicts passed on August 5th, 2013 were: 34 years and 8 months for Balbay,  and 12 years 6 months for Haberal. Prof. Haberal was released immediately; apparently reductions and the time already spent in prison somehow balanced it out. Mustafa Balbay was released on December 9th, 2013, though not aquitted. Both Haberal and Balbay were finally sworn in as MP's. As for Ret. Gen. Engin Alan, he was given 18 years on September 21st, 2012,  the "Sledgehammer" (Balyoz) day of verdicts, his status as MP dropped when the sentence was ratified by the appeals court (Yargıtay) on October 9th, 2013. He is still in prison!
(Image from my own camera.)

I have learned that, in addition to the weekly rallys in Turkey, the "Now It's Our Shift" (Vardiya Bizde) movement is organizing a monthly Silent Scream rally before the White House in Washington DC (the second Sunday of each month) and another before the CNN building in New York City (Saturdays, weekly, starting February 15th). An action on behalf of imprisoned Turkish officers in the US- particularly the White House- points an accusing finger unequivocally at the US administration.

Silent Scream demonstration before the White House, Washington DC, December 16th 2013.
(Images from the media.)

 Dernière acquisition du Louvre ("The latest purchase of the Louvre") reportedtly appeared in the French magazine Paris Match. Unfortunately, I could not locate the original source, but found it uploaded on a website on February 25th, 2010, demonstrating that there was awareness of Gülen's position outside of Turkey as early as back then.

Joining their voices to the Silent Scream is the Küçükyalı Forum, gathering every Sunday at 14:00 at the tiny Adnan Kahveci Park in Küçükyalı, Istanbul, and maintaining a watch for the victims of the "conspiracy" trials every day. In spite of the modest locale, they enjoy the support of respected names from among the regime's opponents.

Author and columnist Meriç Velidedeoğlu at the Küçükyalı forum, January 12th, 2014.
(Image from my own camera.)

 Columnist Ret. Rear Admiral Türker Ertürk with the overall of the "Küçükyalı Watch" speaking his mind at the Küçükyalı Forum on January 26th 2014.
(Image from my own camera.)

Retired schoolteacher Türkân Geniş
speaks her mind at the "Küçükyalı Watch",
Küçükyalı, Istanbul, January 12th, 2014.
(Images from my own camera.)

The feud between the AKP and the Gülen "community" often elicits the response "serves both of them right" from those who have suffered from their previous partnership,  but there is also the real danger of the public feeling obliged
to make a choice between the two devils- and the plight of the victims of the witchhunts being drowned out in the
shouting match between prime minister Erdoğan and
Fethullah Gülen.

 Right: Exhibition at Ortaköy, Istanbul, of artwork by officers held in the Hasdal prison, victims of the "Sledgehammer" (Balyoz) witchhunt.
(Image from my own camera.)

The family of Hasdal inmate,
Naval Capt. Mehmet Örgen at the exhibition: son Mehmet Can  and wife Sanem Örgen, with daughter Sanem Naz ready to snap a photo. Drawings by the captain of his son and daughter are visible on the wall. For a heartfelt speech by the captain's sister, see: "A Not-So-Silent Scream", 3 January-Ocak 2014.(Image from my own camera.)
The "Sledgehammer" ringed with the famous digital evidence. Art by Col. Mehmet Aygün.
(Image from my own camera.)

 Shattered family. Size Balyoz ("Sledgehammer to You")
Col. Mehmet Aygün.
(Image from my own camera.)

Quite apart from the plight of most victims of the Ergenekon, "Sledgehammer", "Adultery and Espionage" and related trials, there are the special cases of those whose health is faltering. Even at this time, when the Ergenekon and "Sledgehammer" allegations have lost all credibility, an increasing number of inmates in advanced stages of life-threatening ailments are kept in unhealthy prison conditions. Very topical these days are the cases of Prof. Dr. Fatih Hilmioğlu and Ret. Brig. Gen. Levent Ersöz, both accused of membership in the Ergenekon "terror organization". [3]

Poster demanding freedom for Prof.. Dr. Hilmioğlu
at the Küçükyalı forum, Istanbul,
January 12th, 2014.
(Image from my own camera.)

"Prof. Dr. Fatih Hilmioğlu
"Former Rector of İnönü University

"Arrested on April 17th 2009 in the Ergenekon frameup. Treated for cancer of the liver since 2010.
The disease is spreading quickly but they do not let him go.

"Crime: To love his country and his people, being an intellectual and a Kemalist.

"Accusation: Founding and directing a terrorist organization, obstructing the functioning of the government.

"Evidence: NONE FOUND.  

"Verdict: DEATH by obstructing treatment.
As the AKP, CHP and MHP hurl accusations at each other over the graft and bribery allegations and the AKP's maneuvers to obstruct justice, pushing other very real issues to the background, things often deteriorate into full scale brawls in the parliament.

In an effort to contain the "Graft and Bribery" investigations, the AKP tried to restrict the authority of the High Committee of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK, Hâkimler ve Savcılar Yüksek Kurulu) with new regulations.  This led to a bar-style brawl in parliament on January 11th, 2014. In the photo you can see AKP's Zeyid Aslan delivering a flying kick to Ömer Faruk Eminağaoğlu of the Judges' Union. 
 (Image from the media.)

On January 23rd, when CHP's Tanju Özcan reminded parliament that prime minister Erdoğan's son had still not testified for allegations of graft, AKP's Oktay Saral punched him in the face.
In the photo, Özcan is poised to punch him right back.
(Image from the media.)

What with the AKP on the one side and the CHP making overtures to Gülen as a pseudo-alternative, I feel a strong empathy with Captain Haddock's sentiments above.
First panel: 
(Capt. Haddock) "Only, how do we distinguish the good guys from the bad?"
(Tintin) "Punch anyone with a foul face. We'll see!"
Second panel:
(Capt. Haddock) "Which one of these two has an uglier mug ? For me, they're the same!"
(Prof. Calculus) "Tintin!!... Is it really you? Im not dreaming?"
Fourth panel
(Captain Haddock): "Now for the rest!"
From L'Affaire Tournesol ("The Calculus Affair"), Hergé, 1956.

The CHP's overtures to the Gülen "community" is seen by die-hard CHP supporters as a "clever tactic", which bothers me because of its dishonesty. The municipal elections are coming up with 27 parties pushing their candidates- and the general impression is that only the AKP, CHP and MHP are the viable ones, with the BDP tagging on to one or the other. The municipal elections are seen as a precursor of the general elections, where minor parties will be blocked by the 10% threshold, and only these parties are seen to have a chance. Though the threshold does not apply to candidates for mayor, it does for city councils, leading the electorate to vote for whoever seems to have a chance. Calculation takes the place of conscience and conviction. 

The Labor Party (İP, İşçi Partisi) has been the at the forefront of the struggle for Ataturk's secular Republic, against the AKP's and Gülen's fundamentalist agenda, against prime minister Erdoğan's Ottoman-style aggression, for the rights of the victims of the Ergenekon, "Sledgehammer", Espionage and related allegations, for national independence, as well as for the rights of the oppressed and the exploited- its traditional area. Party chairman Doğu Perinçek has himself been convicted as supposed Ergenekon conspirator. He was arrested on March 21st 2008 when his home was raided by the police (at 4:30 in the morning) and has been behind bars ever since. He was convicted to life withot parole on August 5th, 2013. (Wikipedia says 117 years.) He continues to write daily for Aydınlık. (Interesting note: Perinçek forms the opposite pole to convicted PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan who, during the AKP era, has been exercising great influence in Turkey's politics.) Recently, Mr. Perinçek has won a great judicial victory on Turkey's behalf at the European Court of Human Rights. Switzerland had passed a law making it illegal and punishable to deny the Armenian genocide. In 2005 he challenged the law on the ground, in Switzerland, proclaiming in Lausanne that it was "a lie". The Swiss courts gave a prison sentence of 90 days  plus a fine . Perinçek took the case to the European Court of Human Rights in 2008. The court reached its verdict in December 17th 2013: the Swiss ruling was an infringement of freedom of expression.[4]

  Doğu Perinçek challenging the Swiss law.
(Image from the media.)

The Turkish government rushed to make the most of Mr. Perinçek's victory in an European court, overlooking the irony of the hero of the day being imprisoned as an Ergenekon "terrorist" in his own country. [5]

The TGB (Türkiye Gençlik Birliği, the "Union of Turkish Youth"), affiliated with the Labor Party, has displayed extraordinary courage and selflessness in its resistance to AKP policies, always refraining from violence (see: "The Youth", 16 December-Aralık 2012) and has recently branched out with the TLB (Türkiye Liseliler Birliği, the Turkish Union of Senior High School Students), younger but just as brave. The courageous young people of the TGB and TLB facing the forces of the state serving the power hungry and unscrupulous AKP-Gülen power structure looked to me like hobbits challenging the might of Mordor! The Aydınlık newspaper and the TV channel Ulusal, also affiliated with the Labor Party while harboring and hosting other viewpoints, have been vital in providing the public with information that most of the other media have not. In truth, most of the strongest acts of opposition of the CHP and the MHP have been prompted by the leadership of the Labor Party, its media organs and its affiliated youth organizations. (I refer to rallys, celebrations of suppressed national holidays, and solidarity gatherings before the Silivri prison compound and various law courts) In view of the great service the Labor Party has done in rekindling hope in the darkness of the AKP era, I am wholeheartedly giving my support in the coming elections. But even among those who admire the party few are willing to give their votes, seeing its chances slim- the 10% threshold spooks the electorate. The Labor Party got only %0.36 of the votes in the elections of July 22nd 2007, but so much has happened since then. It's image has moved from communist to nationalist Kemalist, from marginal to mainstream, and the party did not even take part in the last elections in 2011 (when chairman Doğu Perinçek was already behind bars in Silivri). 

The CHP seems ready to throw all ethical considerations to the wind, ready to form alliances with Gülen's "Cemaat"- perhaps as a price for the backing of the US which is insistent on playing the "moderate Islam" card- and the CHP's electoral base is willing to gulp and swallow the pill because of a fear of splitting the vote. The Labor Party has for months been appealing for an alliance for the elections and endorses a movement called "The National Center", which was inaugurated on April 23rd, 2013, the holiday celebrating the founding of the national Turkish parliament on that day in 1920. (See: "April 23rd and the National Center", 2 May-Mayıs 2013). The concept was that each participating party would support the strongest candidate in a given electoral region. Not wishing to compromise its position as the the first opposition party, Kılıçdaroğlu's CHP did not play along, turning its back on the nobler idea of national sovereignity and seeking to rise through the same alliances that Erdoğan's AKP had done.

When it came to the municipal elections, the CHP started introducing right wing candidates with presumed vote-pulling powers, as well as names close to the Gülen "community".
For metropolitan Istanbul the CHP disregarded procedure; rather than holding in-party polls for in-party candidates
the CHP leadership under Kılıçdaroğlu set its eyes on 
Mustafa Sarıgül, discharged from the party for undiscipined 
behaviour on March 24th 2005 ("creating a row in a party congress"). There are claims he has contacts with the Gülen
"Community", which he presents as his neutrality, and does promise he will bring in the "Community" votes. 

Mustafa Sarıgül giving a smooch to Kadir Topbaş, AKP mayor for metropolitan Istanbul,
while attending a funeral on February 14th, 2013.
 Did it have anything to do with Valentine's Day?
(Image from the media.)

A committe from the CHP visited Sarıgül at his office on October 31st, 2013, inviting him back with a bouquet- a strange gift for a man.

The CHP committee courting Sarıgül on October 31st, 2013.
"Sarıgül" literally means "yellow rose" so I guess they are trying to be poetic. Apparently they couldn't find roses (not in season) but half the flowers are yellow, and so is the paper.
(Image from the media.)

Other CHP members applied to become the CHP candidates for mayor of metropolitan Istanbul, notably journalist and commentator Cem Ataklı. The labor party proposed to back him if the CHP made him candidate. We watch Mr. Ataklı's evening commentaries on Ulusal and are impressed by his openness, clarity, and objectivity. Ataklı spoke to supporters in a rally at Beşiktaş, Istanbul on November 30th 2013, and the public made it clear how much they were ready to invest their hopes in him, but the CHP's bigwigs were unconvinced. Mustafa Sarıgül became the CHP's candidate for mayor of metropolitan Istanbul on December 22nd, 2013.

Can Ataklı speaking to supporters at Beşiktaş, in Istanbul, November 30th, 2013.
His slogan says "to spoil the game, hold a clean hand". Party chief Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, looking out from the poster, will not even consder his candidature. 
Apparently, clean hands is not what he is looking for.
(Image from my own camera.) 

 Rısking his own electoral base while groping into another, Kılıçdaroğlu presents his candidate for mayor of metropolitan Istanbul, Mustafa Sarıgül.
The slogan says "Time for change in Istanbul!"
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!
("The more things change, the more they remain the same!", Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr )

With the candidate it was supporting sidetracked, the Labor Party went ahead and announced its own candidate- the comedian Levent Kırca (January 25th, 2014).

Mr. Kırca started his career on stage at the age of fourteen, moving on to cinema and television and attaining great popularity as a comedian. He has also directed films. Not one to conceal his distaste for the AKP and its practices, he used his art to criticize its wrongs- which led to a ban on most mainstream channels. He has been writing as a columnist for Aydınlık since March 1st 2011, became a member of the Labor Party together with many other prominent names in a group initiation ceremony October 6th 2012, and is now one of the vice-chairmen (chairman Perinçek being in prison) of the party, as well as the chairman of the board of directors of Ulusal channel. He has been continuing his sharp criticism of the government on stage, taking his plays Azınlık ("Minoriry") and then İçerdekiler ("The Ones Inside") on the road, adding several European cities to his tireless itinerary. İçerdekiler ("The Ones Inside") aims to bring the plight of the victims of the Ergenekon and "Sledgehammer" witchhunts to public attention. The events depicted are based on actual occurences as reported by the inmates and their families.

Levent Kırca in İçerdekiler ("The Ones Inside") in Adana, May 21st 2013.
(Image from the media.)

The audience cheering at the end of a performance of İçerdekiler ("The Ones Inside"), 
May 26th, 2013, Bostancı Cultural Center, Istanbul.
"We Are Mustafa Kemal's Soldiers" refers to Ataturk, as does "Blond and Blue-Eyed One" (see: "Remembering a Dead Journalist", 2 Şubat-February 2013, 2nd videoclip; there is some explanation in the text.)
"Silivri" is the prison compound (see: "Silivri", 18 December-Aralık 2012). 

Inevitably, there will be some who think the job of mayor of a major metropolis is too serious to entrust to an actor, especially a comedian, but I think Mr. Kırca has proven his integrity as an artist and a citizen and richly deserves a chance. If concrete examples are required, we can cite poet and playwright Václav Havel, first president of the Czech Republic, bodybuilder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of Los Angeles, and of course actor Ronald Reagan, one of the most consequential US presidents.

Trurth is stranger than fiction: Poet-playwright Václav Havel, well before becoming the president of the Czech Republic, Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator (1984), yet to become Governor of Los Angeles, and Ronald Reagan in Bedtime for Bonzo (1951), with his presidency still far in the future.

Being an animator, I am the last one to take an actor lightly. I find the world of adults superficial and hypocritical. Not that I'm idealizing children- they can be quite difficult, but adults are impossible! The wiser and cleverer people think they are, the pettier they get- and more prone to allow baobabs to grow and infest their world. The uneducated can look at injustice and tolerate it, even exercise it, in return for a ticket to heaven, the educated will do the same in return for earthly benefits or at least not risking what has already been hoarded. Pseudo intellectuals, selfish, self-important and smug, will juggle words and display verbosity to make any idiotic idea seem reasonable- like prime minister Erdoğan's policies bringing freedom and democracy, or the Gülen cult representing moderate anything!

Excluding charlatans- and there are many- I find artists are the most real persons in the world- and Levent Kırca may have made all of us laugh over the years but he is certainly no charlatan: the strength, courage, determination and integrity he has displayed qualify him as a hero. My vote does not go to clever calculations and special alliances, making pacts with one devil to get rid of another. Too calculating, too adult- I'm not that smart! My vote goes to the candidate with the strong heart, this country has suffered enough from pettiness and opportunism. 

[1] -Prof. Dr. Türkân Saylan had led a long and ultimately victorious struggle against leprosy in Turkey, and was chairwoman of the "Society to Support Contemporary Living" (Çağdaş Yaşamı Destekleme Derneği) which helped children of families, especially daughters, receive a proper education. Since ignorance is such a fertile ground for fundamentalist indoctrination, Saylan's efforts were bound to tread on the toes of the AKP-Gülen alliance. Her offices and home were raided on April 13th, 2009, during the 12th Wave of the Ergenekon raids. She was being treated for cancer at the time,and died just over a month later, on May 18th. (See also: footnote 48 of "Ergenekon Trials and Tribulations", 30 Ağustos-August 2013.)

-Ahmet Şık is a journalist; his book İmamın Ordusu ("The Imam's Army") was to be a detailed exposé of the infiltration of the Gülen cult in the police and judiciary. The state prosecutor for the Ergenekon trials, Zekeriya Öz, did not wait for the book to be published: all related texts and computer files were impounded, first with a raid on February 14th, 2011, followed by a more widespread series of raids on March 3rd. Ten people were arrested on charges of belonging to the fictitious Ergenekon "terrorist organization", including author Ahmet Şık.  On March 31st the Ithaki publishing house was raided to keep the book from being printed. Ahmet Şık remained in prison until March 12th, 2012. His book was published under another title: Ooo Kitap ("Thaat Book") in 2011. (See also footnote 11 of "Silivri", 18 December-Aralık 2012.) 

-Journalist Nedim Şener was arrested at the same time as Ahmet Şık, was also charged with membership in the Ergenekon "organization", and was released on the same date as him.

[2] Mr. Feyzioğlu's formula ran thus: 
The government had created "Specially Assigned Courts" (Özel Görevli Mahkeme) to deal with the Ergenekon, "Sledgehammer" and related and similar cases. The judges, the prosecutors, and even the police providing the evidence were members of the Gülen "community", the "parallel state" that Prime Minister Erdoğan has just "discovered". Founded in 2004 (officially June 30th), thes "Specially Assigned Courts" were dissolved on July 1st 2012 with the provision that they continue functioning until the conclusion of the existing cases. Mr. Feyzioğlu proposed that all verdicts delivered by the these courts after this date should be declared null and void and recommence the trials with fresh evidence and impartial judges and prosecutors, and the inmates be released pending trial.

[3] Prof. Dr. Hilmioğlu, erstwhile rector of the Inönü university in Malatya, was taken into custody on April 13th, 2009 and has been in prison ever since- he was sentenced to 23 years on August 5th, 2013, after already having spent more than four years in prison (also mentioned in footnote 48 of "Ergenekon Trials and Tribulations", 30 August-Ağustos 2013). Among other ailments, he is in the advanced stages of cancer. Ret. Brig. Gen. Ersöz's home was raided and searched on July 1st, 2008, but he was not present. He was in hospital under an assumed name when he was found and arrested on January 15th, 2009. Ersöz was condemned to 22 years and 6 months on August 5th, 2013. (See also footnote 8 of "Adultery and Espionage", 28 April-Nisan 2013.) He also suffers from cancer, and infection of the skin and other complications, and has indeed spent most of his detention in hospital.

[4] The Turkish stance does not claim everything was rosy between the Armenian community and the Ottoman administration. From the closing years of the 19th century onwards there was an Armenian seperatist movement in he Ottoman Empire that often resorted to violence, and was met in kind. In the rural areas this turned to feuds between villages and often turned very ugly. During the First World War, the Ottoman state was engaged in war on three expansive fronts, a bitter struggle against the Russians being played out in the northeast. Exploiting their common Orthodox Christian faith with the Armenians, the Russians sought to create a "fifth column" behind Ottoman Turish lines. The controversial solution by the Ottoman administration was to evacuate the Armenian population from the theater of war, which involved marching the people for long distances southwards over rudimentary roads, exposed to raids from vengeful villages and also bandits. No one would question the hardship suffered by the deportees, and that the cost in human lives must have been high. The Turks argue that the scale is comparable to the exodus of the Muslim Turks flocking in from the west after the collapse of the front in the Balkan wars in 1913.  

gen.o.cide  n. The systematic extermination or destruction of an entire people or national group: first used of the attempted annihilation of the Jews under the Nazi regime. [<Gk. genos race + CIDE; coined by Raphael Lemkin, 1944] -gen'o-cid'al adj.

Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary,
1977 Harper and Row,
New York

Regrettable and frought with cruelty and misery as the events of 1915 may have been (we are talking of forced evacuation and resettlement in underdeveloped regions under war conditions here), the Turks claim there was no intention or plan to annihilate the Armenian race in todo, only the cruel conditions of war. (That being said, I hasten to express my feelings of compassion for all who have suffered in the wars of this country, from men called to arms to civilians trodden underfoot.) 

[5] Mr. Perinçek's son, Mehmet Perinçek, was active in researching the details of the deportations and investigating the details of Armenian claims, spending long periods in Russia to go through related documents in the Russian archives in his capacity as research assistant for Istanbul University. He was taken in custody when his home was raided by the police on August 19th 2011. For a time both father and son were inmates of the Silivri prison. On the fateful day of the Ergenekon verdicts, August 5th 2013, Mehmet Perinçek received a sentence of six years. With reductions and the time served taken into account, he was released, but his thesis was not accepted and he was severed from the university.


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