Post-Gezi witch hunt deepens EU’s concerns over Turkish democracy

Post-Gezi witch hunt deepens EU’s concerns over Turkish democracy

News reports over the last few days make crystal clear that the government has no tendency to stop the witch hunt it began immediately after the termination of the massive Gezi Park protests. On the contrary, it seems that it has intensified the hunt by expanding the scope and increasing the number of people taken into custody through consecutive waves of operations in many different cities.

While the police are very able to identify protestors who allegedly committed crimes during the demonstrations through city surveillance recordings, detaining dozens of them; they prefer to remain indifferent to the public’s calls to find the murderers of Ali İsmail Korkmaz. Plus, they are continuing to protect their colleague who killed Ethem Sarısülük, through ridiculous crime scene reports.

This counterattack from the government also targets the umbrella organizations of a number of professional groups of lawyers, engineers, architects and doctors who openly opposed the government during the protests. A recent legal amendment curbing the rights of one of the country’s leading civil society organizations, which brings together more than 400,000 architects and engineers, is being assessed within this frame.

Furthermore, the government has pushed the semi-autonomous regulatory boards to investigate financial orders at brokerages and foreign-currency transactions, seeking details as to who was trying to make excessive profits during and after the Gezi Park protests. It believes that an alliance of national and international financial actors – the interest lobby - was behind the social uprising that shook the country in June.

Everything that the government is doing in the aftermath of Gezi Park is under the close monitoring of the European Union, which also frequently slammed the Turkish government over the excessive use of force against protestors and the violating of very fundamental rights of expression and assembly.

According to EU diplomats, concerns in Brussels over the Turkish government’s revanchist moves against protestors and their supporters are deepening. The first thing that the EU Commission did was to amend the first draft of the Progress Report, which has enormous importance in shaping future negotiations between Ankara and Brussels.

A good majority of ministries and government institutions have also refused to give appointments to EU diplomats who wanted to collect data (about the number of detainees, the number of wounded, the latest on probes against police officers who violated laws, etc) on the Gezi Park protests - some out of fear of government circles, some out of anti-EU sentiments.

The report is not going to be pleasant for the government, as its content could push some member countries to block the intergovernmental conference for the opening of the chapter on regional policies. Signing the Readmission Agreement, curbing the army’s duties and responsibilities, and pretending to resolve the Kurdish question will be insufficient to change the picture if the government insists on its aggressive revanchist moves against its opponents.