The final phase of democracy is not this

The final phase of democracy is not this

After the publication of the governmental decree on the Official Gazette about the restructuring of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said, “The last stage in democratization has been reached.” 

Therefore, in order to reach the final phase in democratization, it was required that the force commands be put under the Defense Ministry, the military schools be closed, a National Defense University be founded and the appointment and proportion system in the TSK be changed. 

In addition to all these, if the constitutional change occurs, then the office of the chief of general staff will be reporting to and working under the president.  

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said the restructuring of the TSK was the result of a very well prepared, very well planned work. 

We never heard of such a preparation before. It looks as if, in my opinion, these are rushed decisions that were reached after the coup attempt. I have limited knowledge about the management of the TSK, so I will not go into that. But I have to go back to the beginning and mention the matter of “final phase in democratization.”

I do not agree with the prime minister. 

The final phase of democratization does not come with the closing of military schools, putting force commanders under the Defense Ministry’s rule and increasing the say of civilians in appointments and promotions. 

Also, you cannot prevent coups with these; the coup plotters did not emerge because the force commanders were under the rule of the chief of general staff or because military schools were open. 

The army has a tradition of staging coups since the Ottoman era; this did not emerge for the first time in 1960. There is only one way for this vein in the TSK to be eliminated totally: Preventing the force, military or civilian, from concentrating or centralizing in one hand, a singular authority. 

If the governing power is concentrated in one hand in Turkey, there will always be one who, on any given day, wants to seize that power and dominate everything. That one may be a civilian or come from the military. Moreover, it may even cause the one who has been legitimately elected to derail. 

For this reason, we should move into the final phase of democracy and this can only happen with the separation of powers; a constitutional order where legislation, execution and the judiciary are precisely separated from each other, where they can check and balance each other, with an accountable and transparent public administration. 

Having said that, we should not forget that decentralization channels should be open and civilian society should also be included in decision-making processes for the broadest possible participation. I should add that I have not seen any positive light on this matter. 

Let us not victimize the coup plotters  

According to Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi, the coup plotters will be punished in such a way that they will beg to be killed. He said, “We will make them beg. We will stuff them into holes; they will suffer such punishment in those holes that they will never see God’s sun as long as they breathe. They will never hear a human voice. They will beg us to be killed.” 

I know the reason for this “humanitarian” approach by Zeybekçi and I can understand why he said that. With the heat of the first days, they somehow invited and supported the “death penalty” calls coming from the streets but now they have seen that there is no possibility that they can do it. They are trying to cool down the hearts of mobs furious with coup plotters through these sharp statements.

This is a normal situation; a politician, whoever he/she is, cannot easily close their ears to the voices on the streets. If these guys were good politicians, they would have come up with other things to direct the masses before the death penalty fell into the minds of those on the streets; well, but this is a separate subject matter. 

However, in this case, a situation emerges that I can explain as the “victimization of the coup plotter.” Everybody, including the most violent criminal, has basic rights for being a person, and torture and maltreatment are crimes incompatible with human dignity. 

Let us also think this: If top officials mention such punishments as torture, bad treatment and the death penalty, then they would be playing into the hands of the coup plotters who have run away abroad and are hiding there.