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Ergenekon, gut feelings and facts (1)

HDN | 1/5/2010 12:00:00 AM | JOOST LAGENDİJK

With the increasingly complicated nature and daily revelations of the Ergenekon case, one wonders how many people can still distinguish between fact and fiction.

Emptying my mailbox this weekend to prepare for a fresh start to the year, I found an interview with independent left-wing deputy Ufuk Uras in which he makes very harsh comments on the discovery of the so-called Operation Cage Action Plan, a document allegedly prepared by naval officers with the aim of discrediting the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government by assassinating non-Muslims.

The plan came to light as a result of the Ergenekon court case. In the interview, Uras is highly critical of the journalists and columnists who deny the seriousness of these kind of plans.

“The ones who see it and do not write about it become accomplices to the crime. Those are crimes against humanity. Choosing to ignore this is to become a party to the crime,” he said.

Because I have always respected Uras’ opinions, his words stuck in my mind. Until now, I did not write about these plans or about Ergenekon in general. Was I making a big mistake that might haunt me for ever?

A day later, I was struck by another article, written by Yusuf Kanlı, chief columnist for the Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review. Kanlı expresses his approval of a remarkable piece by Hürriyet writer Ahmet Hakan who wrote a modern version of the famous “Traitor” poem by Nazım Hikmet, renaming it “I’m a member of Ergenekon.”

Kanlı could not agree more with Hakan: “There are plans afoot to promote political Islam and moderate Islamic governance in this beautiful country at the expense of a modern democratic secular republic and the national and territorial integrity of this country.”

Kanlı clearly thinks the whole Ergenekon case is set up by plotting Muslim fundamentalists, eager to get rid of honest Turkish patriots.

These are not the first or only examples of the totally polarized climate that exists in Turkey around the Ergenekon court case. There seem to be two camps that strike at each other with a growing aggressiveness.

One side fully supports everything that comes out of the investigations. Every new disclosure is presented as another piece of evidence of the treacherous plans of a hard-core, pro-status quo elite that was, and still is, willing to use all means to stay in power. All suspects are considered to be natural born culprits that should not complain about their treatment because they are finally getting what they deserve.

The other side believes every document that is found by the Ergenekon prosecutors is fabricated and has only one aim – to discredit the military and other defenders of the secular character of the country. Every mistake made by the police or the researchers is used to show that the whole undertaking lacks substance and is only a well calibrated attempt to silence AKP opponents by creating a “Republic of Fear.”

I wonder how many people in this country, let alone abroad, still really understand what is happening and are able to distinguish between fact and fiction, between strong evidence and flimsy proof.

To be honest, I find it more and more difficult myself. I try to follow all the news about every new plan that is unearthed, about every possible link between Ergenekon and horrible events in the past.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think the Ergenekon investigations are a very good thing for Turkey after so many previous cover-ups. My problem is, that my opinion seems to be influenced more by a gut feeling about who and what is right and wrong in Turkey then by a balanced assessment of the facts.

I am afraid that the whole thing has become so complicated that many, like me, have lost sight and, out of sheer necessity, fall back on basic instincts that have little to do with the content and the procedures of the ongoing investigations. More in my next column.

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