The Afyon sham

The Afyon sham

In the “advanced democracy” of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his very special Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, the recent explosion at one of the biggest arms depots in Turkey can be described as “an accident,” even though 25 jewels of this country were smashed to oblivion in it.

Just in order not to hurt the feelings of a dull-looking, almond-mustached officious governor, that very special commander may exchange a placard for a local rug, immortalizing the top commander’s visit to that town, 2.5 hours distant from the capital.

Immediately after the blast the forestry minister, whose previous job description was general manager of dams, flatly ruled out sabotage or a terrorist attack and downsized the explosion to a “simple accident,” and the government “strongly advised” the entire media “to take into consideration supreme national interests and not to exaggerate” the explosion at Afyon, which could have happened anywhere.

The forestry minister immediately recalled similar blasts in India and Pakistan. Why India and Pakistan? What resemblance do those two Asian countries bear to Turkey? These two countries have the atomic bomb; do we have nuclear capability? Pakistan is constantly under threat of a coup; India is flourishing and is biggest democracy in the world. Apart from shared history and the cultural commonalities that shared history provides them, India and Pakistan have almost nothing in common; what might these two countries have in common with us? Obviously the minister said this because he could not discuss other issues, as he did not know what to say.

He and his government might have recalled what happened on the Greek side of Cyprus, when an ammunition depot exploded there due to an administrative oversight, killing 12 people. If this country is in the league of Pakistan and India (the two are not in the same league, but anyway), comparing it with those two countries might be meaningful. But, if this country is a European country, aspiring to join the European Union, perhaps Cyprus would be a better example to take into consideration.

What happened in Cyprus after the munitions depot explosion? National mourning was declared. The National Guard commander resigned immediately. The defense minister stepped down soon after, emphasizing his responsibility for the incident. A while later, because it came to light that some Syrian arms that had been captured by the Americans on their way to Hezbollah were temporarily stored at that facility, the foreign minister resigned. An investigation was launched into the matter, and President Demetris Christofias was bitterly accused in the report it produced. That report is believed to have killed Christofias’ political prospects; in any event, he is not seeking reelection.

Like the similar explosions in Pakistan and India, the Cyprus ammunition depot blast was also described as “an accident,” but in the Cyprus example all those responsible for the negligence that resulted in the deadly accident were adequately punished in one way or another, within limits of the law and the culture of democracy. No one exchanged placards and rugs, no one tried to decree some sort of censorship for the media, and no one tried to play down the dimensions of the disastrous development.

Very much like the Uludere sham, in which the state “accidentally” killed 34 of its own people, and for the past many months has been using every possible tactic to cover it up, this was an “accident” that should not be “exploited.” Is that really so?