European Parliament and Ergenekon

by İhsan Yılmaz, Today's Zaman on . Posted in Columns

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On Thursday, I wrote in this column that Ergenekon is alive and kicking. Its psychological warfare campaign is well on its way to being successful.

Ergenekon’s supporters and sympathizers, especially those in the media, have been so skillfully defending their case that even the pro-democracy people in Turkey have started showing signs of skepticism. Even though only about 50 people out of 250 people are facing terrorism charges, they brazenly keep writing that the government imprisons its critics. They present an image of a government that controls the judiciary. They never bother to address the fact that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power for only nine years, while the prosecutors and judges have been in the profession for more than 15 years. They do not explain where all the judges and prosecutors who have been fighting against the AKP have gone. Nor do they explain what happened to those members of the judiciary who had reportedly been appointed to their positions by so-called social democrats such as Seyfi Oktay and Mehmet Moğultay, who once confessed that he gave judiciary jobs to more than 5,000 party supporters.

They wrongly claim that the new Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) is under AKP control, despite the fact that the majority of its members are now chosen by thousands of respected judges and prosecutors, who have been in the profession for more than 15 years. But even if we assume that the new HSYK is under AKP control, pro-Ergenekon people cannot explain how all these Ergenekon charges were brought in the former Kemalist HSYK that was staunchly anti-AKP and anti-democracy. The new HSYK only replaced a few judges and prosecutors in the Ergenekon cases, and the overwhelming majority of them have been there since well before the new HSYK was created. Pro-Ergenekon people keep exaggerating the traditional failures and mistakes of the judiciary and blame them all on the AKP. But we all know that these problems have always been here; the present state is not perfect, but it has been only improving under AKP rule. We are talking about a judiciary that had paved the way for the killing of Hrant Dink with its monstrous verdict against him. And we are talking about a judiciary that allows people to insult the prime minister and asks him to be patient while some judge does not show the same tolerance when it comes to criticisms of Turkishness, the military, Mustafa Kemal or the state, and so on. We are talking about a judiciary that kept trying Fethullah Gülen on ridiculous and unsubstantiated charges for years. We are talking about a judiciary that had opened more than 5,000 cases against the pro-democracy journalists of Zaman, Taraf, Star, Yeni Şafak and Bugün, such as Adem Yavuz Arslan, Şamil Tayyar, Büşra Erdal and Mehmet Baransu.

All of these examples are carefully belittled and even ignored by Ergenekon-friendly writers, and they keep framing the mistakes of the judiciary as AKP acts. In fact, pro-democracy writers also object to the mistakes. If the AKP or the Hizmet movement controls the judiciary, how have all these things happened and where have all these authoritarian judges and prosecutors gone? Why do we not accept the most likely option, which is that the evidence against the Ergenekon suspects is strong enough that the judges cannot turn a blind eye to it, even if some of them would be willing to do so. The pro-Ergenekon writers carefully and very skillfully ignored the recent verdict of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), as I wrote here on Thursday.

Let us remember. The ECtHR noted that evidence, such as records from wiretaps, suggested that the applicant (Tuncay Özkan) had followed the instructions of a military organization. Documents and materials were seized during various house searches before the applicant’s arrest. It was on the suspicion of a crime that he was charged and severely punished by the penal code. The Court stated that:

“It is therefore appropriate to conclude that the applicant can be said to have been arrested and detained on the basis of ‘plausible reasons to be suspected’ of having committed a criminal offense… The Court therefore finds that there is no evidence in this case that the interpretation and application of legal provisions cited by the domestic authorities were arbitrary or unreasonable as to confer on the applicant’s arrest an irregular character… the Court considers that the length of the proceedings, taken as a whole, did not exceed, to date, a reasonable time.”

Since Ergenekon supporters would not claim that the ECtHR is controlled by either the AKP or the Hizmet movement, their usual defense and explanation, they have chosen to ignore it. Knowing the Ergenekon mentality very well, we can understand. They are so adept at turning facts upside down. Look at Ertuğrul Özkök, who is ready to declare himself the biggest victim of the Feb. 28 process! What I do not understand is how the European Parliament has succumbed to the Ergenekon propaganda and is preparing to take a stance against the Ergenekon cases, ignoring the recent ECtHR case. We live in interesting times.