Turkey still lacks the concrete information and the answers to be able to fully comprehend the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and the state of emergency declared afterwards. Some of the reasons why we are lacking are clear:
Primarily, the complex interest relations between the government and the Islamic-commercial-political community, the perpetrator of the July 15 coup attempt, are blocking the process which would enable us to reach concrete information. For instance, the critical date for whether ties to the Gülen Community (Gülenists) constitute a crime is thought to be December 17-25, 2013. This is the date when voice records and other data regarding the corrupt activities carried out by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) politicians and bureaucrats were disclosed. Thus, some sort of legal reasoning has replaced the usual proceedings regarding public law in the trial of the coup attempt.
If we narrow it down, the perpetrators of the failed coup were targeting the AKP supporters, in other words, the government employees. Thus, certain questions regarding the July 15 coup attempt are blocked; information that would enable a just public trial is unavailable.
Let’s look at the report of SETA, the AKP’s ‘think tank,’ about the infiltration of Gülenists into the state. Throughout the report, there is a very ‘successful’ organizational strategy. But that’s about it. Until 2012, they have infiltrated into state organizations and decision-making posts skillfully and covertly. For instance, they had the opportunity to take over the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) with the constitutional amendment of 2010. They then took over such institutions as the Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargıtay) and the Council of State (Danıştay) when the number of their members in these institutions increased. Would you ever believe that they did all of this on their own?
Who campaigned for the September 12, 2010 referendum on constitutional amendments? Despite written warnings in the press that these amendments were aimed at letting the Gülenists take over the top courts and the rest were just ‘made-up,’ who were the ones who penned these changes and submitted them to public vote?
Who cherished and welcomed Fethullah Gülen’s call for the September 12 referendum advising everyone to vote? Was it a matter of course that an increase in the number of members of the top two courts was debated? Or was it not important which party members, based on what grounds, prepared these bills on changes on organizational laws and submitted it to the parliament?
The SETA report has emphasized several times that the Student Selection and Placement Center was a critical institution and there was evidence of alleged theft of questions beforehand. For instance, you may remember that those journalists who reported the incident were accused of being terrorists. It was regarding the questions of the 2010 Public Personnel Selection Examination (KPSS), which were stolen and distributed to Gülen Community members beforehand. Those whose rights were violated and who wanted to take the allegation to court, were also accused of being terrorists.
None of the answers to any of these questions are secret. However, for any piece of information to be included in the judicial process, the mechanism leading to courts should allow it. The July 15 coup attempt is regarded as a gift by certain individuals and groups. Minimizing the coup attempt by calling it a fight between the AKP and Gülenists is a part of the same political-legal problematic situation. The platform of specialized relations where the public and the public law are excluded provides a wide range of operational areas to the regime, which has been stomping on us for five years.
Last week, shady former Interior Minister and former police chief, Mehmet Ağar has responded to the accusations against himself, by saying, “Let the state investigate me.” This is indicative of the ‘specialized’ law in Turkey. What he is really saying is “These guys already know what I have been doing.” He sees no need to hide what has been going on.
By saying that he was brought to the management of the Bodrum, Yalıkavak Marina in order to protect the port from the mafia, he is implying that he has solely been performing the duty of the state. Ağar, as a former government official, is organizing criminal activities with gangs because the state cannot. He is acting under the supervision of the state. This situation is reported on in the inspection documents. He is protecting the marina from the mafia, with what power? The power to exert violence - that monopoly - that we know belongs to the state, has this been delegated?
The political platform of this regime was formed with intertwined interest relations. The relations between the Gülenists and the AKP developed and led to the coup attempt on July 15. Following the coup attempt, we have been observing this same relationship take over the mechanism without interruption. We already have a theory that the state is an organization in which the interests of the dominant classes are represented and protected. But we need a theory regarding the situation in which the government’s special interest relations are organized parallel.
There is an account which needs to be settled, which was not settled before or during the September 12, 1980 coup, but it needs to be challenged after the July 15 attempt. This account does not belong to the AKP; it is the account of the public. What I mean is transforming Ağar’s suggestion that the state should investigate him, into a search for the truth, a search for justice. We should use the tools of justice of the transition period where truth becomes part of the process of seeking justice.
Second, we need a realistic settling of accounts with regard to the state of emergency announced on July 20, 2016. The state of emergency forced millions of citizens into a legal vacuum, in which the powerful could destroy the less powerful. First, we should ask the questions that will allow us to better understand the situation. We should try to solve the mechanism that eliminates the answers to these questions.
What I describe as “a state of nature” is not a situation that prioritizes the state or civilized society. On the contrary, it is a metaphor for the collapse of the state, as Thomas Hobbes said. Thus, I am talking about an exclusiveness which the relationship of sovereignty always requires. For this reason, the calls to return to constitutional boundaries are not reacted at any level. On the contrary, in the circumstances of the state of emergency, the executive power, which has taken over the sovereign apparatus, suspended public law in such a way that constantly challenges both its own legal status and the legal status of its citizens. More precisely, the state of emergency took measures against the threat of the collapse of the state functions by breaking up the state. The legal void expanded and citizens were pushed out of legal protection while the executive power withdrew from the legal field.
We, as Turks, have exclusive interests and power relations established parallel to the government. We have criminals, scammers, and drug dealers who had their pictures taken with the Interior Minister before they got caught. They say it was to expand their credibility. The opposition has been asking all along: What are they doing there? As a matter of fact, should we also not ask this question? What is the Interior Minister or the commander of the gendarmerie doing there?
A war should be waged against those who have violated rights, who have removed the constitutional order, and taken away the rights of citizens through executive actions. More importantly, the real question that will allow us to understand and challenge the exceptional regime in Turkey is: What has filled the gap where rule of law was present? Here, our path crosses again with Mehmet Ağar’s declaration.
Let me remind you of one other incident and ask you one more question. The parliamentary Commission on Examination of the State of Emergency Procedures has been investigating me, as one of the hundreds of Academics for Peace, for nearly four years. During the investigation process, my civil rights were suspended, including the right to work, the right to access health, the right to travel, the ban on stigmatization, the right to education and the right to be elected. What could they possibly be investigating?