Neither Absolute Ruler Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, nor the Islamist Fethullah Gülen brotherhood have ever been in such a mess. Indeed, I must perhaps use another description to explain the situation they plunged into with the unprecedented confiscation of printed versions and deletion of digital versions of the unpublished book “İmamın Ordusu, or “Imam’s Army,” by eminent researcher-journalist Ahmet Şık, under arrest presumably in connection with the serial probe which might be simply referred to as the Ergenekon thriller.
Though on his way to a two-day visit to Iraq, Erdoğan ridiculed rising protests in Europe condemning the confiscation of the unpublished book as a clear violation of the freedom of expression fundamental pillar of democratic governance as meaningless because every country had its own standards of democracy – perhaps a confession that Turkey should be considered a “peculiar democracy” or a “partial democracy” – it is obvious that developments are giving some serious headaches to the absolute ruler and his political clan.
Shall I make a summary of the oddities? 1- Police find a draft copy of the unfinished, unpublished book, the “Imam’s Army” by arrested journalist Şık, during a raid on a Web portal, grab it and report it to the prosecutors. 2- Prosecutors jump on the draft book and set a global precedence (naturally only for countries that claim to be democratic) by getting a court order for the confiscation of an unpublished and indeed unfinished book. 3- The court not only ordered confiscation of the printed and electronic copies of the yet unpublished book at the house of its writer and at the printing works, but also ordered defense attorneys for Şık to hand over any electronic copies they might have. 4- With a court order police raided the headquarters of daily Radikal and asked friends of Şık prosecutors suspected might have a copy of the draft book on their computers to delete the book or they will be prosecuted on charges of supporting and abetting a terrorist gang. Indeed, at the Radikal newspaper and elsewhere – after the court decision was made public – some copies of the book were deleted from computers of Şık’s friends. 5- Initially some leading members of the AKP government and later the prime minister and the president implied that Şık was not arrested because of the unpublished book; that it was sad to see an published book confiscated but there must be a valid anti-terrorism reason behind such an undertaking by the “independent” judiciary; that the fact that the developments were indeed an unprecedented PR work and once published the book would perhaps sell hundreds of thousands of copies. 6- Responding to European criticism that banning an unpublished book contravened with the notion of democracy, the prime minister said Europeans should mind their own affairs; that everyone should know that there was no universal democratic standard and indeed every country has its own version of democracy and Turkey would continue advancing its democracy.
The list might be further continued, but even this much is not only exhausting but also is sufficient to demonstrate the absence of a democratic mindset and fundamental notion of respect to justice and freedom of expression, is it not?
To start with, what does “every country has its own democratic standards” mean? Naturally, there might be variations in practice from country to country but principles, norms and institutions of democracy are valid throughout the world in all countries that claim to have democratic governance. Yet, as regards general principles and particularly the three fundamental pillars – that is supremacy of law, equality of all in front of law and freedom of thought – in the absence of which there cannot be democracy in a country, there has to be full conformity. In a way, the Copenhagen political criteria of Europe corresponds well to the standards of democratic governance which the government of Erdoğan agreed to adhere to and consequently was given the green light to start accession talks but since then has forgot about them.
Is there need to further question the sincerity of those people in European governments or in the Commission who complain about rampant antidemocratic applications of the police and the judiciary in Turkey under directives and control of not only of the government but as it appears by the mechanisms of political Islam, including the Gülen brotherhood gang?
What’s going on in this country for some time has taken the dimensions of tragicomedy? It is indeed very uncomfortable to be a citizen of a country that has a judicial system which can ban an unpublished book and a government which try in vain to support such an oddity!