What that photo tells about our future

Have you seen the photo from the inauguration of the judicial year? After seeing the photo, did you wish you hadn’t? I did. What we saw at that opening ceremony will be our future.

Where do we see justice? The answer is simple: Nowhere. We cannot recognize justice anywhere. Yet, we always look for it. We humans somehow recognize injustice and inequality. We experience it as pain in our bodies and souls. Because of this, we object to injustice and inequality. Thus, justice and equality become the ultimate objective.

Faces of injustice

Let’s look at the faces of injustice first. Are you familiar with the names Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ? They are behind bars. They were the co-chairs of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Their crime was that they were successful in the elections and their party passed the election threshold. The election threshold is now down to 7 percent according to the new election law drafted by the government. This 7 percent makes the leader of the partner of the ruling alliance, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, very happy. However, these imprisoned co-chairs received more than 13 percent of the vote when the election threshold was 10 percent.

How about Aysel Tuğluk? Do you know her? She is also in prison. She was in politics even before the HDP was formed. She was a co-chair. In other words, she committed the crime of representing her people as a politician. As punishment, it was not enough to imprison her. When her mother Hatun Tuğluk passed away, her body was taken out of her burial place and taken to Dersim. Now, Asyel Tuğluk is sick in prison. She needs treatment and care.

Do you know Osman Kavala? Ne was not the leader of a political party, nor did he pass the election threshold with his party. He is also in prison. No one knows why. There is only one thing that is understood: If a judge or a prosecutor makes any decision in his favor, they are dismissed.

Do you know Mehmet Emin Özkan? He is 83 years old. He has been imprisoned for 26 years. He is seriously ill. His pictures show that his condition is serious. There is no evidence of him committing any crime. What about İlhan Çomak who has been in prison for 27 years? There is also no clarity surrounding him having committed any crime.
The hall of such faces of injustice extends on and on.

Ribbon cutting party

While such injustice sits around us like a heavy fog, we must watch the celebration of the new judicial year opening! The new buildings of the Supreme Court of Appeals were opened at the ceremony. Spotless, glittering, huge buildings. It was in front of this building that the infamous photo was taken. In it we see the Head of the Supreme Court, the Head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) and the president. The head of state had difficulty finding the words to congratulate the builders.

At the ceremony, the leader of the main opposition party, who has spent the last six years crying out for justice, was in attendance. His name was called and he came to the podium for the ribbon cutting. There was no other representative from the opposition. Moments before the opposition had the ribbon in one hand and scissors in the other, the Head of Diyanet was praying on stage. While he had a microphone, the guests had scissors. When he attended the reopening the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, he had a sword in his hand as he climbed the pulpit.

Being equal

The most powerful and angry man in the government, MHP leader Bahçeli, was absent. If it were up to him all the courts in Turkey would be closed, starting with the Constitutional Court.  He was not present but his spot was taken by ultranationalist Great Unity Party (BBP) leader Mustafa Destici. The latter was not part of the ribbon-cutting party, but the president still called him to the stage. Then it became clearer that they had invited Kılıçdaroğlu to show him he is equal in importance to the contractors who built the building and Destici.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the main opposition leader, is at times necessary for the government. He was said to be equal to the Chief of General Staff at the Yenikapı meeting in Istanbul on 7 August 2016, which was a display of solidarity against the failed coup on July 15 the same year. At the opening of the Supreme Court building, he was deemed shown as equal to the contractors and Destici.

Sexist members of the judiciary?

Let’s not forget, the President of the Supreme Court of Appeals gave a bizarre speech at the ceremony. The state-run Anatolia Agency summed it up like this:

“Pointing out that social media carries risks and violations of the principles of independence, impartiality, and honesty, Akarca said that members of the judiciary should not send political, ethnic, sectarian, or sexist messages through social media.” Such profound words! It would have been more effective to tell the sun not to set. He also said, “trial without detention is essential.” If he believes what he is saying, then Kavala is not on trial at all; he must be going through another procedure entirely.

Then, there was the gift giving part of the ceremony: The Head of the Supreme Court gave a gift to the President. The president knew the seriousness of the business. This time, he did not throw tea bags at anyone. Perhaps the lack of hurled tea bags indicates there is no disaster within our judiciary!

Attacks against Armenia

I cannot end this article without mentioning the Head of the Bar Association who also gave a speech. He cut the ribbon next to former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım. While his name was not read aloud, he cut the ribbon anyway. He made it clear that he supports the government, saying, “The office buildings and the working environment are important for the quality of service.” He also took pleasure from the fact that Armenia was attacked together with Azerbaijan, saying, “Two states, one nation.” The sad part of his words was that Heydar Aliyev could not hear them, but, nonetheless, his son must have heard it.

The constitution will change, President Erdoğan said. The Head of the Supreme Court of Appeals was also happy with the preparations for the new constitution. The position and responsibilities of the judiciary regarding the new constitution were clear in the photo from that opening ceremony. Right next to head of the executive power is head of the Diyanet, who extends his hands out in prayer.

March 24, 2021 A Turkey without Kurds