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The forgotten political prisoners of Turkey and recent developments

 

At least seventy journalists in Turkey are incarcerated as prisoners of conscience. Two prominent investigative journalists, Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, 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 mobilise 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 organisers 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.

According to Committee to Protect Journalists, Turkey has become World's Leading Jailer of Journalists". CPJ Report Oct, 2012.

Baris Terkoglu, a journalist from OdaTV newspaper who spent 19 months in prison stated at the National Press Club in Washington, DC that "There are two big threats to democracy, rule of law and therefore to press freedom in the country. The first is Prime Minister Erdogan‟s repressive policies. The second is the followers of Fethullah Gulen, a religious leader who currently resides in the United States, who are illegally organizing in the Turkish police force and the judicial system." 

Recent developments 

Prosecutors Charge 64 Life Sentence

Turkey's Ergenokon trial reached its 281th hearing yesterday, with prosecutors summing up their case to seek life sentences for 64 defendants including retired generals and an ex-military chief.

İstanbul -BIA News Desk

19 March 2013, Tuesday 

Mehmet Ali Pekgüzel, one of the prosecutors investigating the 2007 military plot allegations to overthrow Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government, said they summed up their case - a 2,271 page long document that claimed the existence of"Ergenekon terrorist group", an alleged underground network of secular arch-nationalists.

Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court held its 281th hearing on Ergenekon case yesterday in Silivri where prosecutor Pekgüzel summerizing their case on 275 defendants in 5 hours.

Prosectors charged life sentence for 64 suspects for plotting to overthrow AKP government in 2007. The defendants include academics, politicians and journalists, as well as former army officers.

The list of defendants charged with life sentence was as follows: İlker Başbuğ (ex-military chief), Doğu Perinçek (Labor Party Chair), Tuncay Özkan (journalist), Mustafa Balbay and Mehmet Haberal (deputy), Hasan Iğsız, Hıfzı Çubuklu, Hurşit Tolon,İsmail Hakkı Pekin, Dursun Çiçek, Hasan Atilla, Uğur, Sedat Özüer and Şener Eruygur (retired army officers), Erol Manisalı, Fatih Hilmioğlu, Kemal Gürüz and Kemal Alemdaroğlu (academicians), Kemal Kerinçsiz (lawyer), Levent Ersöz and Ferit Ilsever.

Prosecutors charged retired general Veli Küçük with ousting the government, murder order and attempted murder of 4 individuals, seeking life sentence for different six cases.

Prosecutors charged 96 defendants including Sedat Peker, Semih Tufan Gülaltay, Mehmet Bora Perinçek, Ali Yasak, Emin Şirin, Güler Kömürcü Öztürk and Tanju Güvendiren with being an "Ergenekon terrorist organization member", seeking life sentence from 7.5 to 15 years.

Prosecutors also demanded the case of 5 fugitive suspects - including ex-mayorBedrettin Dalan ve deputy Turan Çömez - to be held seperately. They also dropped charges for journalist İlhan Selçuk, who died in 2010.

The court denied prosecutors' arrest warrant for 20 suspects and rescheduled the trial to April 8. (AS/BM) 

And despite these gross violations of human rights, Turkey is given the full support of the European Parliament and its officials in charge of monitoring the accession process. This is an unmitigated travesty! 

The United States is also ignoring lawlessness in Turkey as Turkey becomes a land of repression.

The Atatürk Societies of UK and USA

References:

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. Haliç te Yaşayan Simonlar, Hanefi Avcı, Angora Yayınevi, 2010

5. Anayasa Mahkemesi Kararı, Resmi Gazete, Sayı 27034, 24 November 2008

6. İstanbul- BIA News Desk

19 March 2013, Tuesday 

© Atatürk Society of UK (ASUK) and the Atatürk Society of America (ASA).

ATATURK SOCIETIES OF UK AND USA PRESS RELEASE ; 'THE FORGOTTEN POLITICAL PRISONERS OF TURKEY' 14 APRIL 2013
NEW PETITION;
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