It was Nov. 3, 2002. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) had come to power.
A prominent businessman, the late Sakıp Sabancı, voiced the feelings of the business world: “We are on board the second Özal train. We are on board the train that will take us to the European Union.
Democracy has won. Turkey will be re-built. There are no fights, there are no brawls. Everybody rests at ease.”
That day, the head of the prestigious Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) was the owner of Efes Pilsen, Tuncay Özilhan. Today, beer is banned… The name of the basketball club has been censured. It is even prohibited to say “Pilsen.”
After Tuncay Özilhan, Ömer Sabancı became the head of TÜSİAD. He criticized police violence. The prime minister responded immediately: “I am dealing with the extradition of his uncle’s murderers, but he has stepped in and now talks with the language of his uncle’s murderers.” Sabancı also criticized the insistence of the government on the issue of the imam hatip schools, the vocational religious high schools. The prime minister answered immediately: “If you talk like this, then they will call TÜSİAD a disbeliever.” Having been accused first of abetting terror, then of being a non-believer, Ömer Sabancı has not been seen around since that day.
After Ömer Sabancı, Arzuhan Doğan Yalçındağ became the TÜSİAD president. Her family, which is the biggest taxpayer in Turkey, was fined with an unprecedented tax penalty, never before seen in history.
After Arzuhan Doğan Yalçındağ, Ümit Boyner became the head of TÜSİAD. Because she opposed the Internet ban and defended freedoms, she was accused of being a porn-lover. She was threatened during the referendum campaign that unless she took sides, she may be removed. The prime minister spoke at a rally and called for a boycott of goods from Cem Boyner’s stores.
After Ümit Boyner, Muharrem Yılmaz started heading TÜSİAD. Because he criticized corruption and defended the rule of law, he was personally accused by the prime minister of treason. His company was targeted, the “pool media” executed him.
Mustafa Koç who occupied the position of chairman of TÜSİAD’s High Advisory Council for the longest period during the AKP era. Because he criticized the fact that the rector of Van’s Yüzüncü Yıl University was arrested through a conspiracy, the public prosecutor started an investigation against him, they were just short of arresting him. His Divan Hotel was declared a “cell.” We have listened to it in the tapped phone transcripts; they took Milgem from him and gave it to their own men. They showered inspectors on Koç’s companies. They imposed fines on Tüpraş one after the other. They associated him with “Pennsylvania” by saying “pineapple,” etc.
We are quite far from the EU.
Law has been ruined.
Press freedom has been destroyed.
Our democracy is being called a dictatorship.
The Turkish Armed Forces have been paralyzed.
Turkey is being divided.
Unfortunately, the late Sakıp Sabancı, who started the fireworks in the name of bosses, made a vital mistake, both for TÜSİAD and for Turkey, when he said: “We are on board the second Özal train.”
This was not the Özal train.
It could only have been the Midnight Express…