Justice is the foundation of the state, not revenge

Justice is the foundation of the state, not revenge

In 1908, when the second constitutional monarchy was declared, people in all regions of the Ottoman geography took to the streets. The joyous crowds carried banners with the famous slogan of the French Revolution, “Freedom, Equality and Fraternity,” with one more concept added: “Justice.”  

We belong to a culture that somehow loves its state very much, that sees it as sacred and we take pride in having “justice is the foundation of the state” written in every court hall. 

It is so true; justice is truthfully essential for the state. A system not capable of serving justice, which cannot do justice righteously, cannot be called a “state.”

However, the desire for justice never ends on this land. It was no coincidence that the name of the ruling party in the 1960s and 1970s was the Justice Party (AP). It is also not a coincidence that, today, the political party ruling the country for 14 years has “justice” in its name.  

There is a calculation I do based on justice statistics released by the Justice Ministry every year. I have only done this calculation for heavy penalties. I have written this a couple of times before; here is another need for a reminder. 

The offices of our public prosecutors based on the articles in the Turkish Penal Code, open 45 cases for every 100 investigations they open. The remaining 55 people, even though they may have been detained during the ongoing investigations, which last on average more than two years, may be arrested, their phone conversations intercepted and their lives turned upside down, do not appear before a court during that period. But you will see in a minute that even though they have been victimized, those 55 people are actually the lucky ones; this nightmare in their lives only lasts two years. 

Out of the 45 people who have been indicted and put on trial, 23 of them are acquitted after their first instance trials that last two years on average. In other words, 22 of the 45 people are convicted at the trial stage.  

Then starts the appeal process, in other words the Supreme Court of Appeals stage. The penalties of only seven of these 22 people are confirmed; the penalties of the remaining ones are reversed for several reasons. 

Here, our country’s “issue of justice” is something that is reflected in these figures. The system generates more victims than it produces justice. Out of the 100 people who are investigated, 93 of them are victimized. 

Well, are all these 93 people innocent victims? No, it is not possible to say that. However, we can say this: The system cannot find the evidence at least to convict a large portion of these people and it cannot jail them after a just trial. Instead of that, it produces victims. 

The places where these victimizations begin are the offices of our prosecutors. If we are to begin correcting the justice system of our country, we should start from the offices of prosecutors. 

Our public prosecutors, most of the time, launch investigations for people that they know they will not be able to convict. Moreover, they prepare indictments and sent them to courts. The example that instantly comes to my mind is the “Çarşı case,” when football club Beşiktaş’s fan club Çarşı was taken to court. The prosecutor, instead of opening the case for a violation of the “Law on Meetings and Demonstrations,” chose the attempted coup. In the end, everybody was acquitted. 

When investigations and later cases are opened so negligently, one cannot but think, “Are these investigations opened to make life miserable for these people, to arrest and put them in jail for some time, simply to take revenge on these people?”

Let us look at the situation of dozens of journalists/writers who are being investigated, detained and arrested. 

While there is a concrete crime such as an attempted coup and while the first degree suspects are clear, what kind of a contribution it would make to communal justice by accusing people of very indefinite, extremely vague things such as these? (He said, “The weather will be hot in July,” so that means he knew about the coup beforehand; he gave a “subliminal” message; or he mentioned Fethullah Gülen very respectfully on television).  

Most recently, the detention of two people I have personally known since childhood, Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, gives me the impression that we are seeking revenge, not justice; that we wish to jail people we dislike.  

Well, why are we against the coup? It is to prevent those from governing us through unlawful and illegal methods. Well, what happens when we fall into the unlawful side and even to the illegal line while we want to fight these? 

It is not just a chain of words that “justice is the foundation of the state.” It is not revenge or arbitrary punishment which makes up the foundations of the state. It is justice.