|Wednesday, June 10, 2009|
The other day, the Turkish newspaper Taraf ran a story about the efforts of Mesut Elfeti to justice the people responsible for his father's death. The body of Elfeti's father, Abdullah Elfeti, was found two months after he was detained by the local gendarmerie in March of 1995.
The killings--all of which occurred in the southeast of Turkey, where Temizöz was then stationed--are thought to have taken place within the context of a pattern of illegal behavior undertaken by Turkish military and security forces. Nobody knows for sure how many unsolved mystery killings could be traced back to state authorities, but estimates range in the tens of thousands. Recently, Ahmet Türk--leader of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), a party associated with issues pertaining to Kurdish rights--said there were 17 thousand such cases in Turkey.
The ostensible rationale behind the emergence of state-sponsored death squads in Turkey was the Turkish government's battle against the PKK in the 1980s and 1990s. At the same time, however, it also seems likely that much of this activity amounted to free-lancing on the part of local authorities, who were allowed to shake down businessmen for personal profit without having to fear that they would be held accountable for their actions.
When you look at Turkish newspapers these days, there's a truly sad tendency to tell only one part of this story. Taraf does a great job of relating stories like that relating to Elfeti, but for whatever reason is strangely uncritical of the overall direction that the Ergenekon trial has been taking. To read the pages of Taraf (which, as I've discussed elsewhere, is an influential news source for foreigners who write on Turkey professionally), one would never get the impression that the focus of the Ergenekon investigation has changed dramatically over the past eighteen months, or that the timing of this shift coincided with the beginning of the AK Party's struggle for survival against closure.
Meanwhile, opposition newspapers like Cumhuriyet and the various Doğan Group papers (including Hürriyet and Radikal, whose owner has recently been the target of a major tax investigation) write frequently on the dubious direction of the Ergenekon investigation but relatively little about the horrible and intolerable crimes which prompted popular desire for an uncovering of the deep state to begin with. Opposition leader Deniz Baykal of the Republican People's Party (CHP) has denounced the Ergenekon investigation as "a political trial, not a legal one."
Amid the politicization of Ergenekon and fears that the government has been abusing this investigation to go after its political rivals, the crimes that are allegedly connected to the state may end up getting lost in the shuffle.
|Tuesday, June 2, 2009|
It's been a busy week or so since getting back to Istanbul last Sunday. I'm heading off again for the United States on Thursday of next week, so basically I've been hitting the archives, seeing friends, and trying desperately to finish up some work that I'd really like to complete before leaving Turkey. I hope to spend most of this summer working on a manuscript for a book, so before getting back to Michigan I hope to be able to mail off an article that I've been kicking around for the last few months.