Cops are detaining cops. Senior police officers who were “all powerful” until Monday evening were all of a sudden rounded up in the middle of the night to join other former all-powerful colleagues behind bars. What is their crime? They are all alleged to have belonged to a grotesque “parallel state structure” or the Fethullah Gülen Islamist brotherhood, or the “Hizmet” (Service) organization.
What did Sun Tzu (544-496 BC) say in his famous “The Art of War?” “If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.”
No… No… I have some people with whom I strongly disagree on some issues, but definitely do not have enemies, and I do not expect to see their bodies float by at all. I just wanted to recall that famous quote from Sun Tzu for those prosecutors and police officers who detained so many people in nighttime operations in more than 56 cities. Similarly, the quote is a reminder for those who were detained.
Knocking on the door of Türkan Saylan, a legendary woman on her death bed, searching through her home and trying to belittle her was very sad. Saylan could not be detained because those that were “all powerful” at that time were scared of the probable public outcry. Yet they were brave enough to snatch the octogenarian İlhan Selçuk, the publisher and chief columnist of daily Cumhuriyet and banish him to prison. To remind those “presently aggrieved” friends, Selçuk was released from prison shortly before he lost his life. Obviously the plush prison conditions were of no good to his frail health.
Is there any reason to celebrate with a revanchist mentality and say: “You deserve worse; see who’s being detained in a midnight operation; see what is being done under detention and what sort of a torture it is to be deprived of all freedoms, headed by being able to see your beloved ones whenever you wish?”
This period of allegiant civil servants must come to an end in Turkey if this country is to proceed toward a healthier democracy. Just lend an ear to the ever-yelling, tall, bold, bald and always-angry prime minister: “My teacher … My policemen … My civil servant … My soldier.” It is as if he owns the country and everyone living in it. It is as if he is the worshipful and sacrosanct son of God, who cannot be criticized at all. No one should blame him for “owning whatever is on and under this country.” He is just coming from an absolute ruler’s dynasty unaware of the tenets of democratic governance, absolutely alien to the notion of pluralism and has no interest in sharing power with anyone, be it the judiciary or the legislature.
Yesterday, some other individual from the primus inter pares was in power, civil servants, including the police, were their servants. What did that former Chief of General Staff say? “The lady prime minister says, we immediately obey and deliver.” Constitutional compatibility, conformity with the notion of law and serving the nation and the state, rather than turning into the serfs of whoever is in power cannot be just described as bootlicking, it is further than that. This is a perennial illness and there appears to be no end to it.
Seeing journalists, for example, succumbing to “delicacies of power” and for the sake of cheap houses from the government’s TOKİ mass housing scheme, free domestic and overseas trips or just to be considered by the day’s all powerful team as “he is our boy” or “girl,” it becomes all the more difficult to maintain optimism that there will eventually be a democratic way out of the current mess.
There ought to be no place in democratic governance for a culture of allegiance or full surrender to the absolute leader. Anyhow, can there be an absolute ruler in a democracy?
Still, I have not given up hope and am still waiting at the side of the river of time to see the bodies of today’s all-powerful float by.