EU has been heaping praise on Turkey for ‘democratisation,’ while turning a blind eye on the mass arrests of journalists, former military commanders, and other critics of the regime, mostly on trumped up charges.
At least seventy journalists in Turkey are incarcerated as prisoners of conscience. Two prominent investigative journalists, Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, are facing long prison terms for working on a book that has never even been published. A retired army general, Engin Alan, now an elected MP, is being denied his seat in Parliament while he awaits trial ‘for failing to show respect to the Prime Minister.’ The renowned surgeon/transplant specialist, Prof. Mehmet Haberal, also an MP, is facing charges ‘for trying to mobilise an opposition to the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party).’ Another journalist, Mustafa Balbay, has been in jail for more than three years ‘for being in contact with organisers of the opposition and attending legal meetings to report their views.’ And 45 high-ranking officers from all branches of the military (approximately 1 in 7 of all general officers) are being tried for an alleged plot to topple the present pro- Islamist AKP government in 2003.
The general procedure in most of these cases has been to arrest the accused and then gather evidence, often from dubious sources and by questionable means. Most evidence is merely circumstantial, frequently based on telephone conversations having to do with the private lives of the accused. There have even been suspicions that digitally manufactured evidence has been planted on the electronic devices of the accused.
The trials are conducted in special courts whose judges and prosecutors are carefully assigned by the government. Uncooperative judges and prosecutors are often dismissed or forced into retirement. It is manifestly clear, the message to the judicial branch of government is, ‘If you are not with us, you are against us.’ In November 2008 the Constitutional Court found the AKP in violation of the provisions of the Constitution, which define the Turkish State as secular (Turkish Constitution, Rule 2). But since coming to power in 2002 the AKP government has continued to systematically subvert the Judiciary and the Parliament in order to establish one-party rule. They have locked up prominent opposition figures and now control.
According to Committee to Protect Journalists, Turkey has become World’s Leading Jailer of Journalists”. CPJ Report Oct, 2012. Baris Terkoglu, a journalist from OdaTV newspaper who spent 19 months in prison stated at the National Press Club in Washington, DC that “There are two big threats to democracy, rule of law and therefore to press freedom in the country. The first is Prime Minister Erdogan‟s repressive policies. The second is the followers of Fethullah Gulen, a religious leader who currently resides in the United States, who are illegally organizing in the Turkish police force and the judicial system.”
The Atatürk Societies of UK and USA