Turkey must fight terrorism within limits of law

Turkey must fight terrorism within limits of law

Turkey was shocked Tuesday morning with yet another deadly terrorist attack. As has become a routine application of the advanced Turkish democratic governance authorities immediately clamped a news blackout on the heinous incident. The details of the attack cannot be reported. There are people killed and wounded.

The prime minister was vouching last weekend once again for the press freedom in the country. Justice minister was boasting last month that there were no journalists in Turkish prisons. Yet, in this country of great and free media reporting on a deadly terrorist attack can be prohibited and despite assurances of the justice minister there are 32 journalists behind prison walls.

Tragicomedy as it is, Turkey is heading full speed to a very uncertain and dangerous situation… Since the November polls, or perhaps since the June polls, this country has been sailing through a very different and troubled period of its recent history. Everyone lost track of counting how many people were killed in terrorism-related violence not only in the terrorism stricken southeast only but in western parts of the country, including capital Ankara and largest city Istanbul.

Many cities and towns of southeastern Anatolia, that were turned into ammunition depots of the separatist gang in front of the watchful but still eyes of the government and the security forces all through the so-called Kurdish opening, have become targets of a massive operation. Several towns have been almost constant curfew since the November elections. A very prominent Kurdish intellectual, Diyarbakır Bar Association Chairperson Tahir Elçi was shot dead in front of security forces in the heart of Diyarbakır. The state was so desperate and so incapable that even the on the spot examination of the crime scene could not be performed for almost two weeks after the murder of Elçi. Who killed him? That as well remained a mystery with the state accusing the separatist gang and the terrorists blame a “summary execution” by the security forces.

Unfortunately, because of the dark and sad history of the recent history of the country no one can say in confidence that police or the military of this country never ever exceeded their limits as described in the laws. Unfortunately, it cannot be said either in all sincerity that there is confidence in the public that the state has always remained within the framework of democratic governance. 

It must be clear for everyone, including those in administrative positions, that the foremost duty of a state is to provide “within the limits of law” and “in full respect to the norms and values of democratic governance” the security and wellbeing of the citizens of that country.

In Paris or in Diyarbakır, if there is a serious challenge to public security, the state should take action. Emergency rule or curfew declarations are among the measures a state might take to ensure peace and order and eradicate the security challenges. Though many people, including this writer, consider decoration of cities with high definition cameras and the state watching every action of every one of us like a “big brother” of George Orwell’s 1984 novel, it is a fact that these cameras have been proven rather efficient in anti-terrorism efforts.

Yet, the bottom line of all anti-terrorism efforts must be the awareness the state security forces must possess that irrespective what great powers they might be ordained by the laws and regulations, they just cannot act like the terrorists. Security forces must always stay within the limits of law and under all conditions should upheld the norms and values of democratic government abiding with the principle of supremacy of law. Terrorists might be ruthless, as should be expected from them. Security forces, however, neither in Paris, New York, London nor in Diyarbakır can arbitrarily and indiscriminately apply excessive use of force on people or worse kill people.

Today, once again the nation is appalled with the sad news from Istanbul. Irrespective whether their relatives or friends were living anywhere close to the Sultanahmet area where the heinous crime was staged, were on the phones, trying to reach their beloved ones. Sultanahmet, is at the heart of the historic quarter of Istanbul, in close proximity to many tourist attraction places. Were all the killed Turks, were there any foreigners hurt? Were the perpetrators aimed at hurting further Turkish tourism already suffering a serious challenge over the crisis with Russia?

The challenge is serious… The response, however, must be within democracy in conformity with supremacy of law.