Monday, 25 July 2016

The Looking Glass War

“Revolutionists are accused of sowing fear abroad. Every barricade seems a crime. Their theories are incriminated, their aim suspected, their ulterior motive is feared, their conscience denounced. They are reproached with raising, erecting, and heaping up, against the reigning social state, a mass of miseries, of griefs, of iniquities, of wrongs, of despairs, and of tearing from the lowest depths blocks of shadow in order therein to embattle themselves and to combat”

(Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)

Streets blocked off, barricades raised, a call to overthrow the government in  the name of the people and restore basic freedoms.

It is not exactly democratic, but that, of course, is not the attempted Turkish Coup, but part of the narrative in Les Miserables, Victor Hugo’s masterpiece.

The students are, of course, defending freedom against an increasingly oppressive state.

But it got me thinking about the Turkish coup, when President Erdoğan called for people to rise up and “defend democracy”.

For years, the President has played the democracy card just as well as President Putin has in Russia. He has been elected by a majority of the people. But he has used his power to stamp out dissent and create a society that is considerably less open.

Turkey is one of the least friendly nations for independent journalists. Many have been jailed and an estimated 900 have been forced from their jobs. The government simply seized television stations and newspapers from private owners

So what happened? The transcripts of what was forced to be broadcast are in fact remarkably hard to come by, although they were apparently also sent to media outlets by email, so they must exist somewhere. One I have located I have printed below.

These were the significant elements in the timetable:

8.25pm - Turkish military says has taken power to protect democratic order. In a statement sent by email and reported on Turkish TV channels, the military says all of Turkey's existing foreign relations will be maintained.

9.05pm - Turkish state broadcaster says reading statement on the orders of the military - that new constitution will be prepared, accuses government of eroding democratic and secular rule of law, that the country is being run by a "peace council", that martial law imposed, curfew imposed across the country.

Most importantly, the message broadcast was that the coup was “to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for last and order to be reinstated.”

After the coup failed, Western nations were quick to condemn the anti-democratic nature of the coup, and the opposition parties with Turkey also issued statements of condemnation. They may now be beginning to regret this.

President Erdoğan’s own narrative is that this is a plot by one of his former allies, Fethullah Gülen, an exile, who left the country when a financial corruption scandal broke. The Turkish Prime Minister told journalists that anyone attempting to enmesh him in the scandal would be "left empty handed”, but two of his sons were implicated. In a classic example of scapegoating, Erdoğan accused Gülen of being behind the corruption investigations, and diverted attention away from his own position.

Erdogan defended Halkbank chief executive Süleyman Aslan, describing him as "honest person". Aslan was charged with taking bribes by the prosecutors while the police are said to reportedly have found US$4.5 million in cash stored in shoe boxes in Aslan’s home!

Now he is following the same modus operandi, blaming Gulen for the attempted coup, and diverting attention away from the reasons for the coup.

But it is clear that the statements read out (Google Translation below) have everything to do with the increasingly repressive regime, the move towards a Sunni state away from the secular state founded by Atatürk into one which silences political dissent and removes women’s rights.

Meanwhile, about 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended, detained or are under investigation since Friday’s attempted coup staged by a faction within the armed forces. And the justice minister said Turkey would not bow to pressure from the European Union to rule out restoring the death penalty to execute the plotters.

On Wednesday Erdogan announced a state of emergency. Emergency rule permits the president and cabinet to bypass parliament in enacting new laws and to limit or suspend rights and freedoms as they deem necessary.

On Saturday the Turkish government issued its first decree under new powers authorised by its declaration of a state of emergency. The decree dramatically increases the amount of time detainees can be held without being charged from four to 30 days. T

Amnesty International has gathered credible evidence that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centres in the country.

Detainees are being arbitrarily held, including in informal places of detention. They have been denied access to lawyers and family members and have not been properly informed of the charges against them, undermining their right to a fair trial.

RT television network reports that according to the evidence obtained by Amnesty, 650-800 male soldiers were being held in the Ankara police headquarters sports hall. At least 300 of them had signs proving that they were beaten, with some of them even having broken bones. About 40 were unable to walk because of serious injuries sustained in custody.

Meanwhile, Erdogan told France 24 on Saturday that the arrested coup plotters “are starting to confess.” He also justified the imposition of the state of emergency by saying that it is actually aimed at supporting and strengthening democracy. He also said that it could easily be prolonged if necessary.

This has become a “looking glass war”, where under the name of democracy, Erdogan is justifying detention and abusive practices in Turkey.  Everything that you have seen and heard has been reflected and distorted in a mirror. What we had was a coup in an attempt of an ideal: a restoration of freedoms. In the name of democracy, what we have under Erdogan is a repressive tyranny which uses the vote as a means of legitimising its oppression.

The failure to take into account the real aims of those attempting the coup, simply because it was not taking place according to the forms of democracy, overlooks the fact that those forms can become very hollow indeed.

As Tom Wright noted:

 “The former Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, insisted in his retirement speech that democracies, like all other rulers, need to be called to account, both in what they actually do and in what they actually are. Simply voting every few years — though that is a whole lot better than not voting every few years! — is not a very effective way of achieving this. In the UK, the majority of parliamentary seats are ‘safe’, so that the real ‘election’ takes place behind closed doors in a small room where the local party activists choose their candidate. We will only recover a sense of genuine participation, and hence the reality of democracy, when we deconstruct some of the grandiose claims that have been made or implied, and rethink our social and political practices from the root up.

Coup Statement in Translation

"This text, all the Republic of Turkey to be published in the channel is a desire and command of the Turkish Armed Forces. The valuable citizens of the Republic of Turkey, in a systematic way sustained Constitution and law violations, important for the presence of the state's basic characteristics and vital institution that has become a threat to the Turkish Armed all institutions of the state, including the force has become the ideological motives began to be designed and therefore can not perform their duties.

Heedlessness, misguidance, even fundamental rights and freedoms based on the separation of powers injured secular and democratic rule of law by the President and government officials are in infidelity are virtually eliminated. Our government has lost its credibility it deserves in the international arena and has been universal disregard of basic human rights, governed by autocracy has become a country based on fear. A lot of innocent people stand back from the fight against terrorism as wrong decisions taken by the political authorities and climb our security mission that has cost the lives fighting terrorists. Bureaucracy in corruption and theft has reached serious proportions. Countrywide has been made in the system can not handle the law to combat it.

These circumstances and our nation under the leadership of the supreme Atatürk under circumstances which he founded with extraordinary sacrifices, the founder of the Republic brought to the present day Turkish Armed Forces Peace at home, peace principles of the movement homeland's territorial integrity in the World, the nation and to maintain the state's survival, faced the achievements of our Republic to eliminate the danger, to make available to all our citizens regardless of their distinction the basis of universal human rights, sect and ethnicity open effective ways to combat and eliminate de facto obstacles to the rule of law to prevent corruption, which has become a national security threat, terrorism and all kinds of terrorism secular, democratic and social state of law policy on sitting constitutional order to re-establish our state and our nation regain lost international credibility of the peace in the international environment, a stronger relationship to ensure stability and peace and has seized power in order to establish cooperation.

State management will be undertaken by the Council of Magistrates which are formed in the country. Council of Magistrates in the country, the UN has taken all kinds of measures to fulfill the obligations created by NATO and other international organizations.
Dismissed political power has lost its legitimacy hand taken. "

Text in Turkish

TRT Haber'de okunan metinde şu ifadelere yer verildi:

"Bu metnin, Tüm Türkiye Cumhuriyeti kanallarında yayınlanması Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri'nin bir isteği ve emridir. Türkiye Cumhuriyeti'nin değerli vatandaşları, sistematik bir şekilde sürdürülen Anayasa ve Kanun ihlalleri devletin temel nitelikleri ve hayati kurumlarının varlığı açısından önemli, bir tehdit haline gelmiş Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri de dahil olmak üzere devletin tüm kurumları ideolojik saiklerle dizayn edilmeye başlanmış ve dolayısıyla görevlerini yapamaz hale getirilmiştir.

Gaflet, dalalet hatta hıyanet içerisinde olan Cumhurbaşkanı ve hükümet yetkilikleri tarafından temel hak ve hürriyetler zedelenmiş Kuvvetler ayrılığına dayalı laik ve demokratik hukuk düzeni fiilen ortadan kaldırılmıştır. Devletimiz, uluslararası ortamda hak ettiği itibarını yitirmiş ve evrensel temel insan haklarının gözardı edildiği, korkuya dayalı otokrasi ile yönetilen bir ülke haline getirilmiştir. Siyasi idarenin aldığı hatalı karar ile mücadeleden geri durduğu terör tırmanarak bir çok masum vatandaşın ve teröristle mücadele eden güvenlik görevlerimizin hayatına mal olmuştur. Bürokrasi içindeki yolsuzluk ve hırsızlık ciddi boyutlara ulaşmış. Ülke sathında bununla mücadele edecek hukuk sistemi işlemez hale getirilmiştir.

Bu ahval ve şerait altında yüce Atatürk'ün önderliğinde milletimizin olağanüstü fedakarlıklar ile kurduğu bugünlere getirdiği Cumhuriyetimizin kurucusu olan Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri Yurt'ta Sulh, Cihan'da Sulh ilkesinden hareketle vatanın bölünmez bütünlüğünü, milletin ve devletin bekasını devam ettirmek, Cumhuriyetimizin kazanımlarının karşı karşıya kaldığı tehlikeleri bertaraf etmek, hukuk devleti önündeki fiili engelleri ortadan kaldırmak milli güvenlik tehdidi haline gelmiş olan yolsuzluğu engellemek terörizm ve terörün her türlüsü ile etkin mücadele yolunu açmak temel evrensel insan haklarını mezhep ve etnisite ayrımı gözetmeksizin tüm vatandaşlarımız için geçerli kılmak laik, demokratik ve sosyal hukuk devleti ilkesi üzerine oturan Anayasal düzeni yeniden tesis etmek devletimizin ve milletimizin kaybedilen uluslararası itibarını yeniden kazanmak, uluslararası ortamda barış, istikrar ve huzurun temini için daha güçlü bir ilişki ve işbirliğini tesis etmek maksadıyla yönetime el koymuştur.

Devletin yönetimi, teşkil edilen Yurtta Sulh Konseyi tarafından deruhte edilecektir. Yurtta Sulh Konseyi, BM, NATO ve diğer tüm uluslararası kuruluşlar ile oluşturulmuş yükümlülükleri yerine getirecek her türlü tedbiri almıştır.
Meşruiyetini kaybetmiş siyasi iktidara görevden el çektirilmiştir."

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