Serving up more Ergenekon Kool-Aid

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Here is a copy of the report entitled "Ergenekon is our reality," which I talked about a bit in my post from the other day.   
One of the more striking features of this report, which was produced by a couple of organizations that I know nothing about, is the manner in which it is argued, with a series of "claims" being posited, and then refuted. But many of the biggest problems surrounding the Ergenekon narrative are never explored, and the "claims" that are made are often diluted, thus making them easier to refute. Finally, for a report that was supposedly created in order to help non-Turkish speakers better understand the Ergenekon trial, there's very little argumentation or detail. Arguments are made in the form of declarative sentences, "supported" by a series of footnotes relating to documents and materials printed in Turkish.

For example, the first "claim" to be refuted is that "Ergenekon does not exist" (pp. 14-15). This argument is refuted with the help of literally dozens of documents, none of which are explained or discussed.

But more importantly, who cares? What's implausible about the Ergenekon case in this regard is not that someone, somewhere has described themselves as part of an organization called "Ergenekon," but rather that literally hundreds of sensational crimes have occurred at the behest of a single coordinated network called Ergenekon. It's the claim that a single gang, devoted to unseating the AKP, has brought about all of this havoc that is patently unbelievable.

The second "claim" to be made is that "the Ergenekon indictments have come as a result of a conspiracy theory that brings together unrelated individuals and incidents." This "claim" is refuted with the "evaluation" that "Ergenekon-like formations bring together individuals who appear to be unrelated and even those who are not aware of one another thought they work for the same purpose." The reader is then instructed to go look at what the European Parliament said about the mafia in 1990.

Blah, blah, blah. 

The more important issue here pertains to the claims that are not made. In particular, I'd be interested in hearing the folks who wrote this report explain why, if Ergenekon is really about investigating the "deep state," the main figures in the Susurluk scandal been not been detained, or even questioned, in relation to this case. If I were prosecuting a case on the deep state in Turkey, the first people I'd want to talk to would be Sedat Bucak, Mehmet Agar, and Tansu Ciller. Of these three, the only person who has been questioned by police was Mehmet Agar, who was released immediately after making his statement. Notably, Mehmet Agar was not questioned in relation to the Ergenekon trial, but rather simply on charges that he helped to form a criminal gang. In any case, the case has gone nowhere, despite clear evidence that this man was at the very center of the deep state. (Look at my other postings on Ergenekon for some background on Susurluk, Bucak, and Agar).

What bothers me perhaps most of all about this report are its mealy-mouthed apologies for violations of civil liberties in Turkey--and this coming from an association that calls itself a human rights organization!

By the minister of Justice's own admission, 70,000 telephones were tapped in Turkey between 2006 and 2009 (and if this is what they admit, I think we can feel reasonably certain that the real number is far higher). But tapping telephones is okay, say the report's authors, because:

"the telephone conversations of Ergenekon suspects have been wiretapped in accordance with the law.

However, wiretaps are often carried out in violation of the law, another chronic problem of Turkey. Wiretapping the phone conversations of Ergenekon suspects has not encountered any legal problems." (p. 59)
Elsewhere, concerns about lengthy pre-trial detention periods (some suspects have been in prison for over a year awaiting trial) are likewise blown off with the observation that hey, this stuff happens in Turkey.

Turkey has been penalized many times by the European Court of Human Rights for lengthy periods of imprisonment without a judgment. Detention pending trial is generally an improperly implemented practice in Turkey, and it is problematic from the perspective of protecting the rights of the accused. However, it would not be fair to say that Ergenekon suspects are subjected to more injustice than suspects in other cases in terms of period of imprisonment. [58]
So this means...what? That the fact that some people are being detained for eons prior to trial should not impact our understanding about the nature of this investigation? 

Look, the deep state exists in Turkey. Susurluk was real, and Ergenekon started off as an investigation that was supposedly going to root this stuff out. It hasn't happened. Instead, the course of the investigation has been hijacked, and transformed into a search for the enemies of the AKP government. Surprise! They found them.
And what about the military? Are there folks in the military who would like to take the AKP out of power? Are there others who have at least studied the possibility? I'd be shocked if there weren't. But the idea that the Turkish military--which has made four major military interventions into Turkish politics since 1960--suddenly can't carry out a coup without bringing hundreds of university types, minor-league NGO figures, and journalists into their plan is ridiculous. Meanwhile, the real criminal networks--those that only people like Bucak , Agar, and company could tell us something about--are likely never going to be uncovered.
Zaman and others hoping the non-Turkish reading audience laps up their Ergenekon Kool-Aid

I know nothing about the people who prepared this report, but their objective seems crystal clear to me. Reasonable and informed people can disagree about the nature of the Ergenekon investigation, but the authors of "Ergenekon is our reality" seem much more interested in obfuscating, rather than illuminating, this debate. Hopefully, the non-Turkish reading audience that this publication is targeting will find more reliable sources of information to read.

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