Did a Turkish minister really say ‘f*** the rest’?
Interior Minister Efkan Ala addresses the crowd in Erzurum. AA photoThere was a funeral on March 12 for Berkin Elvan, killed by the police during the Gezi protests. The 16-kilogram body of a 15-year-old child was laid to rest amid protests and anger.
Berkin spent 269 days in a coma after being hit in the head by a gas canister. There is still no suspect for the murder. Police officers working in the area on the day of the murder testified months later, and all said they could not remember the incident. Some even said they did not remember if they had been on duty at the site of the murder.
This is not the first time police officers or soldiers murdering citizens have been protected by the judiciary and state officials. But the latest phone recordings leaked onto the Internet, so shocking that one does not want to believe are real, reportedly show what the government has been busy with instead of finding the real culprits of a killing.
Two phone recordings published on YouTube late March 11 reportedly show Interior Minister Efkan Ala, the prime minister’s undersecretary at the time, speaking separately to Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu and Tayfun Acarer, the head of the Information Technologies Board (BTK). The alleged conversations on Dec. 19 are about reporter Mehmet Baransu, who was publishing on his website documents about the Dec. 17 corruption probe and the accusations in the investigations against four ministers.
Ala allegedly asks Gov. Mutlu to intervene in the situation, arguing that Baransu was publishing classified documents. Gov. Mutlu says he will talk to Chief Public Prosecutor Turhan Çolakkadı. Minutes later, Ala calls Gov. Mutlu back, furious that nothing was done.
“Tell that prosecutor to issue a search warrant,” Ala tells Gov. Mutlu. “If he can’t, they should enter [his house] to stop a crime. We will protect you in any way. Knock down the door and arrest [Baransu].
There is no need for a court order. The man is publishing the testimonies taken by prosecutors, this falls within interfering in the secrecy of the crime [talking angrily, Ala says crime instead of probe]. Arrest this man immediately, if the prosecutor says anything, arrest him, too.”
The target is Baransu, once treated as a prince by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) circles for publishing the secret documents in the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot cases. The Balyoz probe started after Baransu delivered a suitcase of documents to the prosecutor’s office. But he quickly became an “enemy” for the AKP supporters when he published documents incriminating ministers in a high-level corruption probe.
In his reported conversation with Acarer, the head of BDK, which has the authority to shut down websites, Ala again demands immediate action. Acarer says he is waiting for a court decision to act, prompting Ala’s anger.
“Do not wait [to shut down the website]” Ala reportedly tells Acarer. “It is a crime to allow this.”
This is the reported speech. Ala, eager to ease Acarer’s concerns, says they will do anything to protect him in the event of any trouble.
“My brother, we are the ones who make the laws,” says the then-undersecretary. “If need be, we will make the necessary laws and what you did will no longer be a crime, if it was a crime before. This is the [national] will, the will of a party that got 50 percent of votes. F*** the rest. It’s not a big deal.”
If true, based on the AKP majority in Parliament, then Ala, a government official, puts himself in the place of the legislation and allegedly promises laws. He puts himself in place of the judiciary and orders the arrest of a journalist. Welcome to the separation of powers a la Turca.
People read, people listen and people are getting increasingly angry. The majority still hope that the government will act to decrease the tension ahead of the March 30 elections.
I want to believe that the government’s motto to deal with the anger is not “F*** the rest. Not a big deal.”