Questions getting in the way of Turkey

Questions getting in the way of Turkey

The latest report on the U.K.’s relations with Turkey by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee shows important clues on the new theme developing in the West about the role of the Gülen community in the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. 

The report has extremely weak aspects when covering topics on the identity of the community, its past activities, how deep it infiltrated institutions such as the police, the judiciary and the military. Those who have penned the report have not fully comprehended the moves the community have made over the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) and Ergenekon cases on the path to the coup attempt. 

The report, with an ambitious argument, is trying to refute the thesis that July 15 was the direct action of the Gülen community. It proposes that “there is a relative lack of hard, publicly–available evidence to prove that the Gülenists as an organization were responsible for the coup attempt in Turkey.” 

On the other hand, the report suggests that the Gülenists were only one of the opposition groups that were involved in the coup. Based on the hearings of several witnesses, the report says there were four categories within the military behind the coup. They are; Fethullah Gülen and his supporters, elements of the military who acted in the name of the ideology of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, elements in the military who acted to preserve their positions, and those in the military who were lied to or tricked into participation, or compelled to participate by their commanders.

What is interesting is that the report approaches, with skepticism, the volumes of evidences collected up till now on July 15. It has a criticizing tone referring to evidences on the involvement of Gülenists as “overwhelmingly anecdotal or circumstantial, and often based on confessions.” 

It also argues that “the validity of these confessions has been called into question in some cases, amid accusations that they were detained under duress.” 

Then the statement of Gen. Hulusi Akar, Chief of the Turkish General Staff, is reminded, where said he was held hostage by the coup plotters, and that his aide at the time, Lt. Col. Levent Türkkan, had confessed that “he was a member of ‘FETÖ’ [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] and that ‘FETÖ’ had orchestrated the coup. “But, in Türkkan’s case, images have emerged to suggest that he may have been injured in detention,” the report said.  

At this point, we need to focus on an important matter that exists in reports and publications in the western world: the photographs showing the maltreatment of putschist soldiers arrested right after July 15, some of them battered. It is a fact that now these photos have started to get in the way of Turkey.   

These photographs are being presented to Turkey to question the validity of certain critical confessions.

The interesting aspect here is that the Minister of State for Europe, with responsibility for Turkey, Sir Alan Duncan has told the committee that Gülenists were “a state within a state.” 

Another noteworthy aspect of the report is that it has stated, “The coup attempt has also been used as an opportunity to dismiss large numbers of non-military government employees that were opposed to or critical of the government and president, as well as those suspected of links to the Gülen movement.” The report also read, “However, actions justified in the name of the coup attempt or counter-terrorism are further undermining the fundamentals of the democratic culture that they are justified as protecting. These actions carry implications that may outlast the causes of the coup itself, and the current threat that Turkey faces from terrorism.”

Perhaps, this is one of the most important issues the ruling Justice and Development Party government has to tackle in the near future. The question marks that erupt in the West on the violation of rights unfortunately cast a shadow on the justified platform the government sits on as a victim of the coup attempt.