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Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Erdogan, Part 2

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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. . . . .


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


    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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