CHP leader slams government in article for Washington Post
WASHINGTON – Hürriyet Daily News
Kılıçdaroğlu says the government is ‘systematic and ruthless in silencing opposition.’ AA photoTurkey’s main opposition leader castigated the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in an open letter to the Washington Post yesterday, claiming that the Turkish government was systematically and ruthlessly silencing opposition.
“[In Turkey], one gets arrested; then authorities gather evidence to establish an infraction. Presumed guilt is the norm. Sadly, all opponents of the government are viewed as potential terrorists or plotters against the state,” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said in his letter to the leading U.S. daily.
The AKP cannot serve as a model for the Arab Spring either, as some have been debating in Washington, due to its lack of democratic credentials, said Kılıçdaroğlu.
The CHP’s leader also pointed to the hundreds of journalists, publishers, military officers, academics and politicians who are being held in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison on coup- and terrorism-related charges. Many of those indicted have already been detained for years without a trial, he added.
“These trials could have been an occasion for Turkey to achieve a much-needed catharsis for correcting past wrongs, but they have been turned into instruments to silence the opposition and suppress freedoms,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu further said heavy tax fines, as well as illegal videotaping and phone-tapping, are also widely used to silence opponents.
The CHP has also been subjected to inquiries on the charges of “seeking to influence a fair trial,” and “insulting public officials,” while the Constitutional Court levied a fine of $3,000 on the main opposition party when they asked that the chief justice be recused from the case, he said.
“Turkey today is a country where people live in fear and are divided politically, economically and socially. Our democracy is regressing in terms of the separation of powers, basic human rights and freedoms and social development and justice. Citizens worry deeply about their future,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
In a seperate interview, the main opposition leader has urged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to explain why and how the Turkish police was allowed to brief the U.S. embassy in Ankara on the Ergenekon probe.
“This is a grave situation. Turkey is becoming a colony. The prime minister should make a clear explanation on the issue,” Kılıçdaroğlu told the Vatan newspaper in remarks published yesterday.
According to a U.S. diplomatic cable, made public by whistle blowing website WikiLeaks, Turkish police briefed the U.S. Embassy in Ankara on the investigation into Ergenekon at least on two occasions in 2008 and 2009.
Kılıçdaroğlu said the information published by WikiLeaks might be inaccurate but stressed that neither the Turkish police nor the U.S Embassy in Ankara had denied the the briefings.
“These briefings are not innocent. Consider a state that shares certain information with the United States but withholds it from its won public. If the U.S. authorities know what the Turkish people do not, this is a serious problem. This is a matter of Turkey’s reputation and it has been severely damaged,” he said.