One of Erdoğan’s best witch hunt: Ergenekon Trials
Republic of Turkey has suffered 3 military coups and a fourth military intervention against the Islamist coalition in 1997. However since 2002 Erdogan’s AKP has been ruling and offering Islamic politics with a mixture of neoliberal economic development. Although Erdogan has been bent on a slower Islamic agenda he has been fighting against secularism on various levels. One of these is the witch-hunt called the Ergenekon Trials.
Ergenekon is the name of so called secularist ultra-nationalist criminal organization. Its name comes from old Turkish legends that were promoted in the first days of the Republic of Turkey when Atatürk sought to establish a myth of the nation. According to the legend after a defeat only one surviving Turkish family retreats to a valley, and under protection and leadership (?!) of a grey wolf they encounter Turks once again breed and return to the scene to extract revenge. Just like all the other Turkish nationalists symbols this organization holds this wolf as its symbol and Erdoğan has stroke a spear and killed that wolf. Ergenekon is believed to be the deep state organization that has been acting out as a sequel to Operation Gladio’s Turkish branch. This organization is believed to be controlling every terrorist organization and carrying out every single act of political terrorism for the last 30 years. Although there are true connections and people who had served under Ergenekon, it has been spoiled and turned into a witch hunt against the Turkish secularists. People with secular agenda have been thrown into this case and it has officially turned into a model of Turkish justice corruption.
Ergenekon case has 4 indictments around the size of 5 terabytes of data which equals around 9 million pages. There have been many objections about this claiming that logically it was impossible for the jurisdiction to read it thoroughly. Around 60,000 telephone numbers have been tapped. 1360 people have been called in to give their testimonies. Some of the defendants have been elected as MPs on national elections yet they have never seen the parliament, 7 of the accused have died and 7 caught cancer while the case has been ongoing. Around total of 3000 suspects have been arrested mostly journalists, politicians and top brass. There were 44 secret witnesses, of some which were also the accused. It’s probably the first case in the human history of justice to include a person as accused and as a secret witness at the same time. 15 cases have been merged and it has been turned into a mix tape of best political terrorism hits including: the murder of Hrant Dink ( a dissident journalist of Armenian descent ), murder of Italian Priest Father Andrea Santoro and murders of three other Christians in Karadeniz region, murder of German in Malatya, bombing of Cumhuriyet newspaper ( which is pretty interesting because the bombed and bomber are in the same trial and the both parties are claimed to be the same part of the organization ), establishment of Dev Sol, Hezbollah, Hizb ut-Tahrir , PKK and Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party / Front thus raising ethnic hatred between Turks and Kurds. Once they have even claimed Abdullah Öcalan was a member of Turkish ultra-nationalist Ergenekon organization and much more including an intent for a military coup.
During the investigation process there were many cases of media servings such as “ WE HAVE DECODED ANOTHER SECRET FROM ERGENEKON” and thus code would be a couple of hand grenades stashed in a shanty house with its owner having no clue or connection to Ergenekon organization or its members. This has been the motif of the Turkish government for a while. There have been around 600 court meetings.
The legitimacy of this trial has been longed debated. Previous Turkish Armed Forces chief of staff , İlker Başbuğ was also accused of conspiring and setting up Ergenekon organization. His outcry was “ I was the commander of the Turkish Armed Forces, if I had wanted a coup I wouldn’t have set up a terrorist organization, I would have topped the government right away. “ Although he has been ruled as the head of the organization and sentenced to a life in prison. There have been also many arrests for journalists for reporting the case. This has caused a big concern for the press rights in Turkey on the international level. New York author Paul Auster said a year ago he won’t visit Turkey because so many authors and journalists are in prison for no reason. Erdogan responded sarcastically: “Oh, we need you very much!”
On 5 August 2013 verdicts were announced. Many of top brass, journalists and politicians were sentenced to life in prison while the bombers, old grey wolf gangsters were acquitted although this is not the end of the Ergenekon. The defendants will also apply for another appeal which could take 2 more years. Considering some of accused have been in the prison around 5 years and expecting 2 more years. There were also major protests around the verdict court, police intervention and fire that broke out due to the gas canisters blisters. On that day there were extreme nationwide preparations for the trial by the state . Manhunt began previous to the court date. Raids and arrests on secular Turkish NGO’s such as TGB ( Turkish Youth Alliance ) and on international level especially with Greek authorities on leftist took place. Also buses from all around Turkey heading to court were stopped and searched truly by the authorities. “DHKP-C is planning to break-out the Ergenekon” was served on the mainstream media with 30 July Greek-Turkish boat arrests claiming that the weapons found on the boat were going to be used to break the prisoners out of the court that day. This story and the cooperation of Greek and Turkish authorities has been already been published on Vice by Yiannis Baboulias.
From a victim of the deep government activities perspective Ergenekon trial is nothing short of a travesty. Justice has not been served to gray wolves’ members whom have been mostly acquitted while many other non-related people such as journalists have been persecuted. Erdoğan will continue on his witch hunt on Turkey’s secularists.