The current state of Turkish justice and the media

The current state of Turkish justice and the media

There are a few cross sections from today’s Turkey that have to be shared in order to get a better greater picture of what is actually going on.

The first one is a photo showing Hüsna Sarı, a reporter for Ulusal TV, thrown into the air by a police water cannon during a protest in Ankara on Feb. 13. Carrying a microphone in her hand, it is not possible to confuse her with demonstrators marching toward Parliament on a retrial law. And it can be understood by a simple glance at the picture that she was particularly targeted by the police from a close distance.

The second cross section from the media is the ongoing allegations about the unregistered funding of the pro-government media group Sabah-ATV through which businessmen, mainly building contractors, have been getting giant government tenders allegedly orchestrated by PM Tayyip Erdoğan. 

The third on the media is Erdoğan’s direct intervention against the broadcasts of another media group, Habertürk, to force them to stop giving news about opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli’s call for President Abdullah Gül to prevent the Gezi protests from turning into a crisis.

The fourth is a broadcast by Kanal D on Feb. 13 of security camera footage showing the Kabataş ferry station in Istanbul on June 1, during the Gezi protests. Erdoğan said at the time that a woman with a headscarf and her baby were attacked by “nearly a 100 protesters, half-naked in leather trousers, that had beaten up the lady” and even urinated on her. That produced a major campaign by pro-government media against the Gezi protesters, yet the footage did not show anything as such.

Almost at the same hours as the Kanal D broadcast, Erdoğan was telling a group of AK Parti politicians that children of ex-AK Parti ministers and his son, Bilal Erdoğan, who is facing allegations in a corruption case, were going to open court cases against the prosecutors who had started the Dec. 17 graft probe.

The next morning, an Istanbul criminal court released Süleyman Aslan, the ex-general manager of government-controlled Halkbank. The police had found 4.5 million dollars stashed in shoeboxes in his apartment flat, creating yet another symbol of corruption in Turkey. Two sons of two ex-ministers are still in jail together with Iranian-origin businessmen Reza Zarrab over gold-for-oil trade with Iran.

Another cross section from Turkish justice today is the preparations in Ankara to open court cases against prosecutors, judges and policemen who were involved in corruption probes on accusations of spying against the government. The weird part of it is that the Justice Ministry advisers could not settle on the name of the country to put the blame on for the source of espionage. 

Perhaps there’s no need to say at this point that most of the people being targeted are alleged sympathizers of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based moderate Islamist scholar who was a close ally of Erdoğan up until recently.