Not very pleasant pictures of Turkey
There was a tense court case yesterday, Feb. 3, in the Central Anatolian city of Kayseri; yes, the “city of Kaisers,” ancient Ceasaria, also the hometown of Turkish President Abdullah Gül.
It was the first hearing of the court to try eight people, including the police officers accused of beating a 19-year-old Ali İsmail Korkmaz to death in another Central Anatolian city, Eskişehir. That was back on June 2, in the middle of the Gezi protests, which were strongly suppressed by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government. Actually, Korkmaz was not killed on the same day; suffering a brain hemorrhage, his young body craved for life for 38 days in a coma and could not resist any longer on July 10.
The governor and the police chief of Eskişehir first denied the reports that he had been severely beaten by police and local shopkeepers, who were “helping” the police give a lesson to this lonely young protester in the narrow street. However, when security camera recordings of the surrounding buildings started to be sent to media, a court case had to be opened.
The Justice Ministry then decided that the hearings should not be held in Eskişehir (the only city in Central Anatolia that is run by a social democratic mayor from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, CHP), but rather in the conservative city of Kayseri, “for security reasons.” When thousands of people tried to travel to Kayseri in order to support the Korkmaz family, the police took extraordinary measures to prevent them from getting into the town to join people there in order to observe the hearing. They were not able to see Ali İsmail’s mother shedding tears for her son, but managed to make their point in front of the courthouse.
“A plot put me behind bars and a tumor is being pulling out.” Those are the words of retired Turkish commodore Cem Aziz Çakmak, right after being released from Silivri Prison near Istanbul on Feb. 2. He had been sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2013 in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) case on charges of taking part in a coup plot against the Erdoğan government. He has not been released because he has served his term, but because he grew cancer during the time he spent inside; he has received six month’s permission to be treated in a military hospital under judicial control.
The plot he was talking about had nothing to do with the charges of the court. He was referring to the words of Yalçın Akdoğan, the political advisor of PM Erdoğan, who said “honorable officers of the national army” had been put behind bars as a result of a plot, which included the fabrication of false evidence against them. Akdoğan was referring to alleged sympathizers of Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-resident moderate Islamist scholar, once an ally of Erdoğan, but considered a foe since the graft probe started on Dec. 17, 2013.
There is another cancer patient in jail, a civilian. Dr. Fatih Hilmioğlu, a transplant surgeon who used to be the rector of the University of Malatya, a town in Eastern Anatolia. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison because of a similar accusation in a separate-but-similar case called Ergenekon. He has already lost his son during his imprisonment, has more than one tumor growing in his body, and has reportedly developed a suicidal depression. President Gül is ready to pardon him on health charges when the forensic medicine report comes, but there has been no report in sight for months, as the time grows short for him. İlker Başbuğ, Erdoğan’s former Chief of Staff who had been sentenced for life, also in the Ergenekon case, has been complaining from day one they have been charged and sentenced on false evidence by the Specially Authorized Courts, brought by Erdoğan’s government, no matter who are running them, as judges and prosecutors. Başbuğ does not want a pardon; he wants a fair retrial, believing he did nothing wrong and would be acquitted.
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Those were only two; unfortunately, there are more unpleasant pictures from today’s Turkey.