Justice cannot be left to individuals

Justice cannot be left to individuals

Justice should never be left to individuals or segments of a society. It should not be left to the president, government, ruling party or parliamentary majority either, even though penal codes and other laws regulating how justice should prevail are best made in parliaments under the guidance of universal norms.

The latest emergency law decree providing immunity to those involved in the “fight” against the July 15, 2016 coup was nothing abnormal in light of the reality in the country. It was not the first time that ordinary people who stood together with the state in quelling an uprising were granted amnesty for actions they undertook to fight the mutiny through the extraordinary legislation.

In 1931 for example, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of the Turkish Republic, requested to issue a similar blanket amnesty for actions taken by ordinary people in the fight of an uprising. The difference between the immunity law during Atatürk’s time and the current decree is perhaps that the 1931 law was legislated by parliament and was valid only up to a certain day in 1931, while the current one is an emergency rule decree that cannot be appealed by the Constitutional Court for its annulment.

The 1931 law clearly stressed immunity was valid for actions undertaken by ordinary people until a certain day, while the current one has not only specifically mentioned the July 15 coup, but says the immunity could apply to people that stand with the state in fighting similar uprisings and terrorist events.

The government and pen slingers of the presidential palace in the media have been denying that the decree could be used to instigate civil strife by some Islamist hordes. Indeed, who could guarantee that tomorrow someone could get away with a crime committed in the name of stopping a terrorist act or a political threat that was a “repeat of July 15”?

In 2011, I had shared a message on my account, which recently made me question whether I would share it again. I initially said perhaps I should, but then decided against it. The message was short: “I hope tomorrow we will still be in a position to defend the rights of those Gülenists with whose concoction so many people have been suffering today.”

Those were the Ergenekon times. Those were the years when the center of excellence in concocting all sorts of fake evidence against Kemalists and nationalists had been working round the clock. It was a time when thousands of people had been banished to the Silivri concentration camp on the grounds that they had been preparing to stage a coup to topple the government.

Once again, there is currently an ongoing human tragedy. The special commission for a remedy to the thousands of people sacked with emergency rule decrees have started delivering decisions. There is complete disappointment, as most of the appeals for reinstitution have been flatly rejected. As of the beginning of December, there are 145 journalists in prison. In the Ergenekon era, the highest number of journalists in prison was 76.

I had read a letter from Şahin Alpay, a 74-year-old colleague with serious diabetes and complaints of heart failure among many other illnesses. He has been in prison for almost the past 15 months. Did he participate in any act? No. Furthermore, he has confessed many times that he had been deceived and was very sorry to have supported the Gülenists. Is it necessary to keep him in prison? Can he not be released pending the outcome of his trial?

Turkey, Yusuf Kanlı,