The advantages of a law-abiding Turkey

The advantages of a law-abiding Turkey

Recent debates on the reinstallation of the death penalty are shedding light on many other issues.  

We want the Western world to have a firmer stance against the coup attempt in Turkey, don’t we? We want the West to see the true face and the secret organizational work of the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization” (FETÖ), act accordingly, and for instance, extradite Fethullah Gülen, right? 

Some 19,000 people are under detention; 10,000 people have been arrested, including judges, prosecutors, journalists and businesspeople, some of them due to real evidence, but some others due to reasons that would not even require a statement at normal times.

With such an outlook, what kind of an impression would the mention of the reintroduction of capital punishment create about Turkey – particularly retrospectively? Both in terms of the trust in the law domestically and in terms of Turkey’s direction internationally? 

I’ve previously written in this column that bringing back the death penalty would mean turning Turkey from the West to the East. I also wrote that even if we change the constitution and reinstate capital punishment, this would not apply to crimes that have already been committed. I called on legal experts in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), primarily Parliamentary Speaker İsmail Kahraman, to give an explanation on this matter.

For about 10 days, there was silence. On July 30, AK Party Deputy Chair Hayati Yazıcı spoke on Habertürk TV, saying, “Those who were tried in the ‘Balyoz’ [Sledgehammer] case would have been given the death penalty; it would have been us that had hanged them.” 

He said capital punishment could be reinstated for certain crimes like treason, but immediately added that it could not be retrospective. 

Yazıcı also said denaturalization could be an option, but this is a separate matter. 

I congratulate Hayati Yazıcı, who is an intelligent law person, for his explanations on the death penalty. He was the one who drafted the sections on law in the statute and the program of the AK Party. In these sections, the separation of powers is emphasized, stating that national sovereignty is made up of the legislative, executive and judicial powers. Today, there are voices coming from the ruling party that national sovereignty is limited to the legislative and the executive.

In my opinion, the death penalty will not be reinstated. When matter-of-fact debates are held with legal, diplomatic and economic experts, it will be realized that the death penalty would not only fail to be a deterrent, but would also create major new problems for Turkey. Mobs may ask for capital punishment in the heat of the moment; they may ask for it at normal times as well. 

If a referendum is held, the outcome would be “the Syrians should go.” The issue is beyond the matter of “should the death penalty be reinstalled or not?” 

It is a scandal that the German Constitutional Court banned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from addressing an anti-coup meeting of Turks at Cologne via video conference. Can you see the dimension of the prejudices? 

Since we need to “increase our friends,” then we have to act rationally, find interlocutors in the multi-colored West and develop effective language and communication. 

In today’s situation, our issue is to be able to explain, with all the facts, that the “community” had a totalitarian secret organizing aspect other than its exposed face, as well as the other aspects of the truth about the coup. How can we explain this, PKK terror and our other issues? 

A Turkey that is known and accepted for its meticulousness on legal concepts, values and rules will be able to better explain these matters, be more influential and obtain better results. If concerns increase over commitment to the law, then anti-Turkey prejudice will feed on that.