The mistakes that cast shadows on the coup probes

The mistakes that cast shadows on the coup probes

There have been a series of mistakes by the government and by the courts that have cast a shadow on the investigations into the bloody military coup attempt of July 15 in Turkey.

Those mistakes have meant that the attention of the democratic world has been diverted from the coup attempt itself, which might have led to a disaster if the plot had not been foiled by the people, their representatives in parliament, the president and the majority of the military and the police who remained loyal to the democratic regime in Turkey despite all its problems.

Those mistakes could be summarized as follows:

* The government failed to explain properly how it was possible for them to spot thousands of names in a few days, dismiss them from public jobs and arrest them in batches. The obvious question in the West is that if the government knew who was involved in the plot, why did it not do anything to stop it? The obvious answer was that most of the names were already in the files of the government thanks to the ByLock application which the conspirators used in their secret communications and which was cracked by Turkish intelligence just a few weeks before the coup. The names did not give any information about a coup setup but merely belonged allegedly to the Fethullah Gülen network. And because they were worried that the military officers in the network could be dismissed in the Supreme Military Council late July, the plotters decided to move prematurely in mid-July in order not to risk the military positions that they had. When the attempt took place, the government took action on the names they had at once, thinking that they could make the discrimination between being a part of the network and being a part of the coup later.

* One of the first steps that the government took after the coup attempt was to close down media companies (formerly) owned by the followers of Gülen, the Islamist preacher living in the U.S., which had already been confiscated in March 2016. Most of them were already in the control of the government. But acting in a fury, the government announced their closure as soon as the state of emergency was declared. Then came the arrest of columnists writing for pro-Gülen papers and magazines. Most of them like Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç, Lale Kemal, Nuriye (Akman) Ural were senior journalists and writers. Then came another wave of arrest for left-wing writers like novelist Aslı Erdoğan and linguist Necmiye Alpay who had nothing to do with the allegedly Gülenist coup but were writing for the Özgür Gündem which was also closed by the government under accusations of being in line with the policies of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The arrest of journalists and writers without showing any criminal evidence led to the conclusion that they were put in jail only because what they had said or written. Some of them have been released, but the majority are still inside.

* When thousands of leftist teachers were dismissed along with supposedly Gülenist ones, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which has been giving full support to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) against the coup attempt, started to claim that the government was abusing the post-coup atmosphere in order to silence all dissident voices. Both the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have formed desks in order to receive the applications of those who claim they were unfairly treated, dismissed or who have relatives who were arrested. When the reports increased in the press about the relatives of those arrested or dismissed were also dismissed or lost their jobs and passports, the complaints also increased.

* Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım acknowledged that there were mistakes in a live TV show last weekend, giving the example of former court cases like Ergenekon and “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer), during which thousands of people were taken in and spent years in jail without being tried and without any discrimination as to whether they were involved in any action; Yıldırım said the prosecutors should not do the same now. The prosecutors and judges of those cases are all out of a job, with some of them arrested and some of them on the run. And all the accusers are free, although the PM says some of them might have managed to rescue themselves because there were innocent people alongside them.

President Tayyip Erdoğan is upset when he hears criticism from inside and outside of Turkey about the coup investigations, but those mistakes are partly due to these criticisms.