At least seventy journalists in Turkey are incarcerated as prisoners of conscience. Two prominent investigative journalists, Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik, are facing long prison terms for working on a book that has never even been published. A retired army general, Engin Alan, now an elected MP, is being denied his seat in Parliament while he awaits trial “for failing to show respect to the Prime Minister.” The renowned surgeon/transplant specialist, Prof. Mehmet Haberal, also an MP, is facing charges “for trying to mobilize an opposition to the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party).” Another journalist, Mustafa Balbay, has been in jail for more than three years “for being in contact with organizers of the opposition and attending legal meetings to report their views.” And 45 high-ranking officers from all branches of the military (approximately 1 in 7 of all general officers) are being tried for an alleged plot to topple the present pro-Islamist AKP government in 2003.
The general procedure in most of these cases has been to arrest the accused and then gather evidence, often from dubious sources and by questionable means. Most evidence is merely circumstantial, frequently based on telephone conversations having to do with the private lives of the accused. There have even been suspicions that digitally manufactured evidence has been planted on the electronic devices of the accused.
The trials are conducted in special courts whose judges and prosecutors are carefully assigned by the government. Uncooperative judges and prosecutors are often dismissed or forced into retirement. It is manifestly clear, the message to the judicial branch of government is, “If you are not with us, you are against us.” In November 2008 the Constitutional Court found the AKP in violation of the provisions of the Constitution, which define the Turkish State as secular (Turkish Constitution, Rule 2). But since coming to power in 2002 the AKP government has continued to systematically subvert the Judiciary and the Parliament in order to establish one-party rule. They have locked up prominent opposition figures and now control the judiciary, the press, academia, the police, the presidency and the legislative branch.
And despite these gross violations of human rights, they are given the full support of the European Parliament and its officials in charge of monitoring the accession process. This is an unmitigated travesty!
The Atatürk Societies of UK and USA
1. Turkish Constitutional Court Documents. (Ankara) May 27, 2011;
2. “Ergenekon – Between Fact or Fantasy”, Gareth H. Jenkins, Silk Road Papers, August 2009
3. Ergenekon, Sledgehammer, and the politics of Turkish Justice: Conspiracies and Coincidences, Gareth H. Jenkins, Meria Journal, Volume 15, Number 2, June 2011
4. Halic te Yasayan Simonlar, Hanefi Avci, Angora Yayinevi, 2010
5. Anayasa Mahkemesi Karari, Resmi Gazete, Sayi 27034, 24 November 2008
Copyright, The Ataturk Society of America (ASA) and the Ataturk Society of UK (ASOUK)
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The Atatürk Society of America (ASA) is an independent non-profit organization founded 1995 in Washington DC, with the objective of promoting the ideals of Atatürk's political legacy.