If we can talk about an alliance, it was around shared values of democracy, universal human rights and freedoms — never for political parties or candidates. In 2010 constitutional referendum I said that if these democratic reforms, which are in line with European Union’s requirements for membership, were done by CHP before, I would have supported them.
A broad spectrum of Turkish people, including Hizmet participants, supported AKP for democratizing reforms, for ending the military tutelage over politics and for moving Turkey forward in the EU accession process. We have always supported what we believed to be right and in line with democratic principles. But we have also criticized what we saw as wrong and contrary to those principles.
Our values or stance have not changed. We will continue to advocate for democracy. Whether the stance or actions of the political actors are consistent with their earlier record should be decided by the Turkish people and unbiased observers.
During the period between 2003 and 2010, the overall trend was toward democratic reforms and a broad spectrum of Turkish population supported them. This was evident in the constitutional referendum of 2010 which received 58% approval. Indeed Turkey has made economic and democratic progress over the last 15 years.
But we would like these democratizing reforms to continue. Turkish people who supported the constitutional amendments of 2010 with the phrase “good but not sufficient” are upset that in the last two years the democratic progress is now being reversed. A new, civilian-drafted, democratic constitution would consolidate the democratic gains and would anchor Turkey at democratic values of EU. Unfortunately, that effort has now been abandoned.
Shuffles and purges based on ideology, sympathy or worldviews was a practice of the past that the present ruling party promised to stop while campaigning before elections. It is ironic that members of the police force and judiciary who were applauded as heroes a few months ago are now being shuffled in the middle of winter without any investigation.
It is also why many people who agreed with my ideas have established various types of educational institutions from dormitories, exam prep centers, to private schools and free tutoring centers. These institutions provided a wider segment of the society access to quality education, which were hitherto available only to a privileged few.
I have encouraged Turkish people to be represented in all facets of the Turkish society and in every institution of their country, because it is important that these institutions reflect the society’s diversity. But the choices that are made by students and their parents are shaped by many factors such as employment opportunities and expected likelihood of upward mobility. I am not sure how influential my advocacy has been as a factor that these families have considered.
As far as the institutions established by Hizmet participants, I don’t have an accurate assessment of the career choices of their graduates. But contrary to what you may think, for students thinking of a career in the fields you mentioned (police or judiciary), historically it has been a potential cause for discrimination to have graduated from such institutions.
However, if the intention is to completely abolish the verdicts of thousands of trials, then such a move would both undermine the credibility of the justice system and reverse the democratic gains of the past decade. It would be very difficult to explain such a move to the 58% of Turkish population who supported the constitutional amendments of 2010 which made it possible to try former coup perpetrators in civilian courts for the first time in Turkish history. It would also present an irony as the leaders of the present government for years championed these trials as a triumph of democracy and applauded the brave prosecutors and judges, in their language, who took part in them. There have also been reports of political leaders bragging about subjugating the military leadership to the civilian authority.
The present rhetoric in which these trials are discredited and attributed to a certain group within the judiciary presents a complete contrast to the rhetoric of the political leaders during their ten years of governance. There is also an element of insincerity here. When the director of the Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT) was contacted by a prosecutor for questioning the alleged participation of intelligence officers in the terrorist acts of KCK/PKK units, the government immediately passed a law requiring prime minister’s approval for investigating the intelligence director. While the ruling party certainly had the power to do so, they did not pass a similar law to bring the same protection to the accused chief of general staff or army commanders. This inconsistency demonstrates that the recent rhetoric of retrials is politically motivated rather than a desire for justice for military officers.
Mr. Gul is currently our president. It would be inappropriate for us to speculate about future scenarios involving his name.
When the opportunities come, Hizmet participants, just like any other citizen will make their choices based on their values. It is possible that people who share core values will make choices along the same lines.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Source: Recto | Verso