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Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Erdogan, Part 2

Tayyip Erdogan

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COMMENT: In numerous posts and broadcasts, we have chronicled the descent of Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkish government into de facto Islamic fascism

The Erdogan government appears to be an Islamic, Underground Reich entity, ultimately directed at the core of the Earth Island.

With roots in the Bank Al-Taqwa milieu, it should come as no surprise that this government has played out in the fashion that it has. Although elected (so were the Nazis in Germany), Erdogan’s government is demonstrating a distinct, totalitarian bent, as evidenced by the results of what Paul Krugman termed “A show trial on the bosporus.”

“Turkish Court Hands Down Prison Sentences in Coup Plot” by Sebnem Arsu and Tim Arango; The New York Times; 8/6/2013.

EXCERPT: A Turkish court sentenced dozens of high-ranking military officers, politicians, journalists and others to long prison terms on Monday for plotting to overthrow the government in a long-running case that captivated the nation for its audacity, laid bare the deep divisions within Turkish society between Islamists and secularists and earned sharp criticism from the international community over issues of judicial fairness.

The highest-profile defendant, Ilker Basbug, a former chief of staff of the military, received a life sentence. Three members of Parliament were given long terms, and at least 20 journalists were also sentenced.

As judges read out the verdicts one by one, protesters who had gathered outside the courthouse and prison complex in Silivri, a coastal town west of Istanbul, faced tear gas fired by members of the security forces. . . .

. . . . But as the case grew and ensnared journalists, academics and prominent government critics, it came to be seen as a politically motivated attempt at silencing dissent. It also carried the notion of revenge and class resentment, analysts said, because Mr. Erdogan and his religious followers represent a class that was marginalized under the old military-dominated order. Mr. Erdogan himself was once imprisoned for reciting a religiously inspired poem in public.

“In these cases, they tried to create a thornless rose garden by silencing opposition and intimidating patriotic people with secular principles,” said Celal Ulgen, a lawyer representing 16 defendants, including a journalist, Tuncay Ozkan.

Now, he said, “it’s impossible to talk about a justice system free of politics, or public trust in justice.”

With at least 20 journalists sentenced to prison terms between 6 and 34 years, the case also illuminated Turkey’s poor record on media freedom. Reporters Without Borders, based in Paris, has referred to Turkey as “the world’s biggest prison for reporters” and ranked Turkey 154th of 179 countries, behind Iraq and Russia, in its 2013 World Press Freedom Index. . . .

. . . . On Monday, families were denied access to the final hearing, and state officials blocked access to the Silivri courthouse. Roads leading to the town were closed in the early morning, preventing buses carrying protesters from reaching the area. . . . .

Discussion

3 comments for “Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Erdogan, Part 2”

  1. http://mordechaikedarinenglish.blogspot.co.il/2013/08/democracy-yok.html
    Democracy Yok
    by Mordechai Kedar, August 8, 2013

    In the middle of the 17th century, Ibrahim – the Turkish sultan called “the insane” – instructed the commander of his fleet to conquer the island of Malta. The admiral went to sea but because of a navigational mistake did not find the island. One version of the story is that he had no intention of getting to Malta and he erased it from the ship’s navigational map so the crew would not be able to find it. He returned to Turkey saying: “Malta yok”, or, “there is no Malta”. These days, the question is whether there is democracy in Turkey or perhaps “democracy yok”?

    This question is not only valid pertaining to the events of last week, when 250 senior public figures who were accused of attempting to bring about a revolution against Recep Tayyip Erdogan were sent to prison, and not only to the past decade either, during which time he ruled the country with an iron fist as the head of the Islamist-oriented Freedom and Development Party. The question can also be applied to the years previous to the Islamists’ rule, beginning with the secular revolution of Mustafa Kemal, “Atatürk”, who was elected as the first president of modern Turkey, in 1923. Those who have a good memory will certainly remember the film “Midnight Express”, which clearly described the Turkish regime’s shocking methods of torture during the secular era. Even Erdogan himself was sentenced to ten months imprisonment in 1998 because he publicly read a poem that included the line “the mosques are our bases, their domes our helmets, their spires our swords and their believers our soldiers”. Was he sent to prison because reading that sentence was a democratic act? Was the justice system objective back then?

    Since 1923, Turkey has been a battleground for conflicts between two contradictory and conflicting cultural movements: the secular one, Kamalism (from the name Mustafa Kemal, “Atatürk”), that was imposed upon Turkey using violent and dictatorial means, and the Islamic tradition], which had been repressed for decades, managed to come to power and now makes every effort to retain its position, even by using means which would be considered undemocratic by Western criteria.

    The guardians of secularism were mainly the army and the judicial system. According to the constitution, the army’s role as the guardian of the country’s secular character is even more important than its role as defender of the country from external enemies. The army has fulfilled this function four times, when it went into action, sending the politicians home: 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997. The last time was after the Islamic movement’s first political victory: Necmettin Erbakan’s Welfare Party won in the elections of 1996 but was removed from power by the army a year afterward and the party was banned. Erdogan’s Party of Justice and Welfare grew from the ideological platform of the Welfare Party, and it has been the ruling party in Turkey since 2002.

    The present government felt obligated for its own protection to defang the secular watchdogs: the army, the presidency and the court. In a continual, gradual process, Erdogan has ultimately succeeded to put Abdullah Gul, his friend and his foreign minister in the past, into the presidency. And he has managed to bring about constitutional changes so that he can put judges who are not part of the secular elite into the High Court. The army – which had, in essence, been a totally secular, anti-religious body, underwent changes in personnel, whereby any officer who finished his service or was dismissed, was replaced by an officer loyal to the Islamic way.

    However, the secular elite was still there in the background; they formed a secret clique composed of a few thousand people who remained faithful to the secular, anti-Islamic doctrine of Atatürk. They included senior military veterans, politicians, academicians, journalists, judges, attorneys, artists, authors, poets, and most important: business people who could make things happen using their economic means. This group felt that the country had been stolen from them, and that the Islamists who came to power – who, only one generation ago, were ignorant and uneducated – are not fit to rule a modern state.

    Erdogan and his party are engaged in a constant struggle against the secular movement, who are represented in parliament by a few small parties. To protect its image in the media, the Islamic government imprisoned dozens of journalists who had criticized the prime minister’s conduct and behavior. This took on more importance after the series of violent demonstrations that have swept over Turkey during the past several months as a result of the development project that the government is carrying out in the center of Istanbul. The ties between capital, press and government in Erdogan’s Turkey are just as strong and convoluted as they were in the days of the secular government.

    It is against this background of the power struggle between the secular and religious movements that the Ergenekon Affair arose. In the Ergenekon Affair, hundreds of people, among them senior former officials,were arrested, and were accused of plotting to overthrow the Islamic party’s government. Those arrested include military people, business people, media people, academics and artists. All of them were put on trial before a special court, whose evidentiary rules do not make it easy for the defendant to prove his innocence.

    According to the charges, each of the accused was responsible for part of the plot, and the operation was accused of being a terror network, a claim that makes it easier for the government to restrict the defendants’ rights. The chief defendant was the former army chief of staff, General Ilker Basbug, who was sentenced to life in prison. He was arrested in 2012 and accused of ordering Internet sites to be established where propaganda would be spread against the government and its head. Other senior officers were also sentenced to long prison terms, with the accusation – perhaps falsely – that they had arranged murders and assassinations.

    The trial was held in Silivri prison in Istanbul, in a hall that was built especially for the trial, in order to keep the trial from being covered by the media. This way the government could conduct the process however it wanted. Each time demonstrators gathered in front of the prison to protest the trial and the way it was being conducted, the police broke up the demonstrations very violently.

    Turkey’s image is now at stake: will it be liberal and modern, as its founder, Mustafa Kemal, “the Father of the Turks”, intended, or will it perhaps revert to the days of the Ottoman sultans who waved the Islamic flag over their heads. The whole pot: the army, media, academia, art and commerce, is at stake in the struggle, and we can expect that in the wake of the of the defendants’ conviction in the Ergenekon Affair, the struggle will become sharper and stronger. Each side is entrenched in its position and takes increasingly stronger actions, and it may be that Turkey is sliding – but not as quickly as Egypt did – into a series of violent struggles in the public sphere, as we have seen in recent months.

    This will effect both Turkey’s economy and its international standing, because the European states, who have in the past expressed doubts about allowing Turkey to join the EU because of the way the Turkish government treats its opponents, will now intensify their demand that Erdogan ease the pressure on his opposition. There may even be international judicial procedures to appeal the sentences that were imposed in the Ergenekon affair, whether in the form of an internal Turkish appeal, or a combination of international tribunals.

    Will Turkey continue to claim that it is a democratic state as the cultural struggle between its opposing sides intensifies? Will the world continue to see Turkey as a partner in diplomatic processes when basic human rights are trampled internally? Time will tell.

    Posted by Vanfield | August 10, 2013, 9:35 pm
  2. http://nextcity.org/politics-policy/entry/in-turkish-cities-a-black-box-effort-to-turn-citizens-into-government-spies

    In Turkish Cities, a Black-Box Effort to Turn Citizens Into Government Spies

    Istanbul | 08/09/2013 7:00am | 4
    David Lepeska | Next City

    Turkish protesters on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue, where in early August police drove tanks and shot rubber bullets at dissenters. Credit: Alan Hilditch on Flickr

    Istanbul has been abuzz this week with the harsh verdicts meted out in the five-year Ergenekon coup plot trial, with 19 17 of 275 defendants receiving life sentences for plotting to overthrow the government. It’s a stern warning to coup plotters, to be sure, much like another bit of recent, less-covered news.

    Last week, police announced plans to install neighborhood informant boxes in cities across Turkey. Dubbed the Confidential Police Notice Point Project, the move will allow residents to submit anonymous written and oral tips on their neighbors. Picture a small black box on the corner where neighbors drop in slips of paper incriminating one another for offenses like banging pots and pans in support of the Gezi Park protesters (a nightly show of solidarity in many urban areas in the weeks following the countrywide protests).

    “It’s a crime to disturb neighbors,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reportedly said in July, urging the public to turn in dissenters. “I’m telling you that such acts require punishment.”

    The informant boxes follow a government decision to replace private security workers with state police at all state-run universities, the better to keep an eye on protest-prone college students. Meanwhile, anti-government protests that started back in May continued this past weekend.

    On a sultry night in early August, police chased a few hundred demonstrators from Gezi Park using teargas. Then, seemingly unaware of the irony, they drove armored trucks down Istiklal, or Independence, Avenue — Istanbul’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, filled with high-end shops and cafes — shooting rubber bullets at those brave or dumb enough to get in their way.

    All this should be acutely troubling to anyone who cares about democracy in the urban world. Istanbulites long weary of the gaze of their government now must look into the eyes of their neighbors. Tools similar to the informant boxes have been used in dictator-run Arab countries before, and as well as in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia — places where secret police kept watch and public trust evaporated.

    Local informants are also not completely new to Turkey. “Historically, Istanbul police relied on local informants — the imam, the mukhtar (village leader) — at times of social unrest,” Fariba Zarinebaf, director of Middle East and Islamic studies at the University of California-Riverside and author of Crime and Punishment in Istanbul: 1700-1800, said via email, citing the late 19th century. “But I doubt these measures were ever that effective.”

    In a modern world, with a government that has used force to silence demonstrators and cast them as looters, terrorists and rodents, this plan seems far more sinister.

    What’s more, the rule of law has never been terribly strong in Turkey. With anonymous reporting, the potential for abuse is considerable. The government has in recent months made little secret of going after journalists it deems a threat to its reputation. What would stop the authorities from going after citizens that draw their ire, claiming an informant’s tip as their prod?

    “It is interesting that dissent, i.e. banging on pots and pans, is being defined as a crime,” Zarinebaf said. “Citizens are asked to report this specific form of dissent, and you can imagine how much tension this would create among neighbors who may be mad at each other for various reasons, trying to settle scores.”

    On the conservative Istanbul street where I live, near Galata Tower in Beyoglu, locals are out in the street all day. Older men chat, smoke and stare while headscarved women watch their children play and young boys huddle in groups to snack and laugh. They know everybody and trust each other. Crime is rare.

    Security in the city relies on a patchwork of similarly organic neighborhood watches, based on familiarity. Take away that sense of familiarity and openness, and erode the system of public trust that has made Istanbul one of Europe’s safest cities.

    “If the boxes work, it will tear away the unity of the mahalle (neighborhood) and will create extreme distrust,” Zarinebaf said. “But I am sure the citizens will defy the measure in most neighborhoods. The public has a clear understanding of what constitutes a ‘crime’ and when they should inform on criminal elements.”

    The question is whether they may begin to expand those concepts at the urging of their government. In a recent television ad from the government security directorate, a young man is shown giving a rose to a young girl. Soon after, the girl is seen chanting slogans in a street protest. “They use the mask of ‘standing up for your rights’ in small demonstrations,” the narrator says, “ then they quietly steal your child from you.” The story closes with the girl becoming a suicide bomber.

    The message is that any young person who stands up for his or her rights is a terrorist — and that everyone must be on guard against threats lurking in plain sight, like the young man with the rose.

    There is, however, still hope for many parts of Istanbul where residents have already banded together in the wake of the Gezi protests. Urban Turks have launched more than 100 neighborhood forums all over the country. Most groups meet a few times per week and discuss the issues of the day, from the local to the national, and tend to share a strong sense of solidarity in opposition to the government of Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

    For these groups, the informant boxes will not be a welcome addition to the neighborhood and likely will go all but ignored.

    But the same cannot be said of the large swaths of AKP supporters — like many residents of my neighborhood — that make up as much as half of Turkey’s 75 million people. For them, the çapulcu, the pot-banger, the terrorist and the coup plotter may soon be one and the same. The informant box may have its uses.

    Posted by Vanfield | August 12, 2013, 9:57 pm
  3. Friday, August 23rd | 17 Elul 5773

    http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/08/22/turkey-foreign-minister-davutoglu-erdogan-rejects-us-condemnation-of-anti-israel-remarks/

    Turkey Foreign Minister Davutoğlu: Erdoğan Rejects US Condemnation of Anti-Israel Remarks
    August 22, 2013 10:27 pm 1 comment
    Author: Joshua Levitt

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu claimed late on Wednesday that anti-Israel remarks made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had been misunderstood and taken out of context, and that he rejected censure by a White House spokesman, Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reported.

    Speaking on Turkish private broadcaster Kanal 24, Davutoğlu said Erdoğan was referring to a “mentality” in his comments claiming that Israel was behind the recent military coup in Egypt.

    “He gives an example from a meeting of two years ago [in his speech.] He explains a mentality,” the foreign minister said.

    On Tuesday, during a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdoğan claimed to have “evidence” that Israel was behind the July 3 military takeover that toppled Muslim Brotherhood President Muhamed Morsi, in Egypt.

    “Israel is behind the coup in Egypt,” Erdoğan told the party leaders, Hurriyet reported. “We have evidence,” he said, citing an unnamed “French intellectual.”

    A source told the Associated Press that the “evidence” that Erdoğan was referring to was a video “available on the Internet” of a press conference attended by Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and French philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Levy.

    A video of the two, dating back to 2011, shows Levy saying: “If the Muslim Brotherhood arrives in Egypt, I will not say democracy wants it, so let democracy progress. Democracy is not only elections, it is also values.” Pressed further as to whether he would urge Egypt’s military to intervene against the Muslim Brotherhood, Levy said: “I will urge the prevention of them coming to power, but by all sorts of means.”

    The AP also reported that a spokeswoman for Livni said of Erdogan’s remarks: “Any attempt to try and tie Israel and Minister Livni to Egypt’s internal affairs is unfounded.”

    “Meanwhile, the office of Egypt’s new prime minister Hazem al-Beblawi said Erdoğan’s latest words ;have no basis in fact and are not accepted by any sane or fair person.’ It also said Erdoğan’s comments were intended to ‘target Egyptian national unity’ and warned that Cairo’s ‘patience was reaching breaking point,’” Hurriyet reported.

    In Israel, Yisrael Beytenu MK Avigdor Liberman said on Wednesday that Erdoğan’s hateful words spoken against Israel are reminiscent of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

    Erdoğan’s comments also triggered a strong response from Washington. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the comments were “offensive and unsubstantiated and wrong,” and damaging to regional cooperation.

    Posted by Vanfield | August 23, 2013, 12:47 pm

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