By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 5, no. 8 of the Turkey Analyst)
The trial of the two surviving members of the junta that seized power on September 12, 1980, in a coup that altered Turkey’s course, is an historic event, but it does not reflect any desire to settle accounts with a regime whose framework, on the contrary, is preserved. What would amount to the ultimate conviction of Kenan Evren would be if the constitution that bears his signature were to be scrapped and replaced with a democratic one. But instead, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to concentrate even more power into his hands than Evren once did.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 5 of the Turkey Analyst)
On February 7, 2012, Sadrettin Sarıkaya, a public prosecutor with “special authority”, attempted to question several high-ranking serving and retired officials of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), including intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, on suspicion of aiding and abetting the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The resultant furor led not only to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) rushing through legislative amendments to protect the country’s intelligence officers from judicial investigation but also to calls for the entire system of “specially authorized” prosecutors and courts to be overhauled. However, there is considerable evidence to suggest that the manner in which “specially authorized” prosecutors and courts operate are merely symptoms of much deeper flaws in the Turkish judicial system as a whole.
By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 3 of the Turkey Analyst)
Most international attention has focused on the more than 100 journalists who are now in jail in Turkey as a result of what they have written or said. But more pernicious – and ultimately much more corrosive to freedom of expression – is the widespread self-censorship and the climate of fear, which extends well beyond the media into Turkish society at large. Yet it would be a mistake to hold the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan solely to blame. The underlying problem goes much deeper and is considerably older than the AKP government. Indeed, it could be argued that the main responsibility for the deteriorating state of freedom of expression in the country lies with the Turkish media itself.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 1 of the Turkey Analyst)
In the early hours of January 6, 2012, General İlker Başbuğ, who served as chief of the Turkish General Staff from 2008 to 2010, was arrested and imprisoned on allegations of “founding or directing an armed terrorist organization” and “inciting the overthrow of the government of the Turkish Republic or the prevention of it fulfilling its duties”. For many, the arrest of Başbuğ on terrorist charges will be regarded not so much as demonstrating that the General staff is no longer untouchable but that the Fethullah Gülen Movement has the power to imprison whoever it likes.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 7 of the Turkey Analyst)
On the afternoon of March 30, 2011, Zekeriya Öz, the chief prosecutor in the controversial Ergenekon investigation, was abruptly removed from the case by the Turkish Justice Ministry. The decision came after a month in which allegations of links to Ergenekon had once again been used to try to silence critics of the exiled Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. On the morning of March 30, 2011, police acting on Öz’s orders had raided the homes and offices of seven theologians opposed to Gülen. On March 3, Öz had triggered domestic and international outrage by ordering the arrest of eleven journalists and academics who had been critical of Gülen and subsequently attempting to erase all copies of an unpublished book about him.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.