We are going through dark times. The situation we are experiencing is akin to a mafia film – albeit a poorly written one – in which the evilness of the actor is a matter of suspense.
What I’m referring to is the Gezi Park trial. What we experience during that trial was the latest iteration of a series of nonsensical events that have unfolded for the past few years. The detention of civil society leader and philanthropist Osman Kavala cannot be grasped by logic.
From its onset, the abnormal aspects of the trial were a constant source of debate. It was said to be revenge.
The court did not release Osman Kavala though 70 days passed after the ECHR called on his “immediate release.” The board of judges accepted the murderer of a Gezi protestor, Ali İsmail Korkmaz, as an “injured party.” The same board rejected all the demands of the defense. After the tension in the court hearing room reached its peak, it suddenly decided on acquittal.
The head of the board of judges read the verdict from a piece of paper. This text could not have been possibly written physically during the very short break. The acquittal was based on the fact that “there was no concrete evidence relating to the charges.” In other words, the judge said just the opposite of what he had said for years, namely “the strong evidence presented by the prosecution” that explained his continued arrest.
The ECHR ruling – which the judged had previously refused to implement on the grounds that it was not finalized – was included in the verdict this time. The judge was the same, the case was the same, the defendants were the same but the verdict had changed. It came as a real surprise for those present at the courthouse.
For those who believed the case was always political, the explanation lies in recent developments in Syria. The acquittals were a sign that Ankara is turning to the West. It was a sign that the cracks within the governing alliance are deepening.
German Councilor Angela Merkel has promised euros for houses in Idlib to be built by TOKİ, Turkey’s Mass Housing Administration. Hence, economic elites push for a detente with the West. This can be interpreted as the Turkish government’s search for new partners as it faces mounting pressures on all fronts.
The search for a new route or partner while the government is facing failure in every field. It is likely an attempt to salvage the image of the judiciary or ease the pressure of the ECHR, or to have a better position in coup attempt and “FETÖ” debates.
Is this happening with Erdoğan’s blessing or despite him? This is a question that is asked repeatedly at many levels, from the economy to cabinet reshuffle discussions, to foreign policy and judicial verdicts.
In fact, like with everything else, it does not matter whether the cause of Osman Kavala’s re-arrest is the result of an actual dispute or a constructed scenario. It does not change the characteristics of the process or its results. There is a consistency in the nonsense.
A telling sentence came from President Erdoğan on Wednesday. “They attempted to acquit him with a maneuver,” he said. The chosen verb “attempt” refers to a process that has not been completed. Erdoğan called on people to respect and acknowledge judicial decisions. He urges people to respect the re-arrest decision but, as he has done before, actually he himself does not accept the acquittal decision. He does not say he wanted him out or that the judiciary was independent, but instead that “he will follow up the case.” This goes against the hypothesis that the acquittal was an attempt to seduce the West.
Erdoğan also supports the “Gezi coup” assumption that is frequently used in the pro-government social media campaigns.
Advisors to the president, loyal columnists and social media accounts have recently conducted a campaign to promote the idea that “a new coup could soon be staged.” Yet Erdoğan brushed them off by saying, “they are distractions from our target.”
In fact, every event in this country is followed by the perennial question “What will he do next? And for what motive?” No other actors are truly considered.