Saturday, January 18, 2014

Turkey: An Action Movie without a ‘Good Guy’

Special for the Armenian Weekly
In Turkey today, a very high-tempo, high-tension action scene is unfolding, with a life-or-death fight at the top of the state apparatus. A volcano of corruption is erupting once more, releasing all the filth from below the surface. We’re seeing the sons of cabinet members being taken from their homes, alongside prominent businessmen, and put into custody; the mass removal of middle- to high-ranking security officers; and comprehensive changes in the juridical organization. But there are no prospects for a better Turkey, because both parties of this fierce fight belong to the “bad guy” club—the ruling AK Party and the informal but all-mighty clandestine organization of the “Gulen community.”
erdogan gulen 1 Turkey: An Action Movie without a ‘Good Guy’
Gulen (L) and Erdogan (Photo:
The audience is deprived of the expectation of a reward for watching these horrors play out. There is no hope for the emergence of a good guy, who will punish the bad and set things right. There is no need to wait for it, because there is no good guy at all in this action film. None of the already-few forces of democracy in Turkey have the slightest role to play in the plot.
The new enemies are, in fact, old comrades-in-arms. Until very recently, both were acting in perfect harmony in their evil-doings—their vulgar, gross denial of the genocides of Asia Mnior’s Christian population, their repression of the Kurdish resistance, their involvement in judicial scandals (Turkey has the highest number of political prisons in the world), in human rights violations of every kind, in public racism and discrimination, in the prisons where life becomes hell for the inmates.
The disintegrating state apparatus
Now, let’s take a short look at what happened: On Dec. 17, 2013, the İstanbul police detained 47 people for their involvement in corruption and bribery. The names of the detainees created a stir: they included the sons of three cabinet members, Muammer Güler, the Minister of Interior, Zafer Çağlayan, Minister of Economy, and Erdoğan Bayraktar, Minister of Environment and Urban Planning; Mustafa Demir, the mayor of the district municipality of Fatih (known for the much-debated “urban renovation project” that left thousands of Roma homeless); as well as a number of prominent businessmen, including the Iranian-Azerbaijani Raze Zarrab and Süleyman Aslan, the general manager of the state-run Halkbank. Newspapers have also reported that Egemen Bağiş, the Minister of European Union Affairs, may be a potential suspect of bribery related to businessman Reza Zarrab.
The police reportedly confiscated some $17.5 million used for bribery during the investigation; $4.5 million came from Aslan’s residence, and $750,000 from the Interior Minister’s son’s home. Prosecutors accused 14 people, including 2 sons of cabinet members, of corruption, fraud, money laundering, and smuggling gold. On Dec. 21, the court ordered their arrest. Reports indicated that a new investigation would be held on Dec. 26 involving Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s sons, Bilal and Burak, as well as certain al-Qaeda affiliates from Saudi Arabia, such as Yusuf Al Qadi and Osama Khoutub. But police officers in the Istanbul Security Directory, newly appointed by the government just a few days prior, reportedly refused to carry out the orders of arrest. The deputy director of public prosecutions also didn’t approve this new operation. The man behind this second investigation, Prosecutor Muammer Akkaş, was dismissed on the same day. Akkaş said he was prevented from performing his duty.
A few days later, on Jan. 7, the police force was purged, and the positions of 350 police officers were changed, including chiefs of the units dealing with fraud, smuggling, and organized crime.
The public’s amazing state of numbness
The only good thing in this show is the possibility that the Turkish people, still loyal to their “father state,” may take one tiny step towards doubting the morality of the entire mechanism that dominates their life. With each new scandal, the Turkish public is shocked at the extent of the corruption revealed. Yet, it always falls back into an everlasting state of oblivion, forgetting that corruption seems to be an integral part of the establishment.
The republican history is full of scandals that tell stories of large-scale irregularities, embezzlement, and abuse. Not very long ago, in 1996, the famous “Susurluk Accident,” during the peak of the armed clashes between the PKK and the Turkish army, had prompted  many to believe that nothing would be the same again. The car crash victims included the deputy chief of the Istanbul police department; a member of parliament who led a powerful Kurdish clan serving as the paramilitary armed support of the Turkish army; and the leader of the ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves, who was a contract killer on Interpol’s red list.
The scandal had revealed the close relations between the government, armed forces, and organized crime in a wide variety of unlawful activities that ranged from drug trafficking, gambling, and money laundering to extra-judicial killings and gross human rights violations in the Kurdish provinces. Although then-Interior Minister Ağar, who was shown to be closely involved with outlawed gang members, and then-Prime Minister Çiller, who led the state-sponsored assassinations, resigned after the scandal, no one received punitive sentences. Ağar was eventually re-elected to parliament as a leader of the True Path Party (DYP), and the sole survivor of the crash, chieftain Sedat Bucak, was released. In short, the perpetrators escaped justice. A number of Susurluk investigators subsequently died in car accidents suspiciously similar to the Susurluk car crash itself—two in 1997, and one in 1999.
The corruption that gave birth to Turkey
Nothing—no restructuring of the state apparatus, no reformulation of the founding values of the government, no enlightenment on the part of the Turkish public—came from this outpouring of immense filth that lay deep beneath the surface.
Corruption forms the very texture of life in Turkey, because corruption is the initiator, the founder, the very reason for its existence. Less than 100 years ago, it was founded on the massive plunder of Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian property, and the unlawful transfer of their wealth to the state and to the local Muslim population.
Since then, since this tremendously large-scale theft, embezzlement, fraud, and corruption, we in Turkey all live on a vast land of sticky, stinky swamp, bubbling continuously, emitting nauseous vapors, fuming sickening smoke and, from time to time, creating small volcanoes that throw up the age-long filth the swamp has struggled to keep inside.
Parliament is now (as of Jan. 12) debating a government-proposed bill that would strengthen the Justice Ministry’s hold on a council that appoints judges and prosecutors and oversees their work. Opinion makers, academics, and politicians are on TV heatedly protesting (rightly) that this would put an end to the already feeble independence of the judiciary system.
The judicial system and denialism
From the start, the judicial system in Turkey was designed to serve denialism—the denial of the founding essence of the Turkish state, the genocide, the suppression of all opposition. It was the High Court of Appeals that, in 1974, decided that the minority foundations’ “1936 declarations”—given at the request of the government to record the immovable properties they presently possessed—should be considered to be the foundations’ charters and, therefore, unless it was clearly indicated that the foundation could acquire new immovables, acquisitions made after the declaration had no legal validity. So hundreds of immovables acquired by foundations after 1936 (by way of donation or passed on by elderly non-Muslim individuals, as they were once sources of income of the non-Muslim communities’ churches, hospitals, orphanages, cemeteries, and schools) were seized by the state. What was unbelievably unlawful in this decision was that these foundations of non-Muslim citizens of Turkey were referred to as the institutions of “foreigners”! Such is the lawlessness practiced by the highest body for justice in this country.
The swamp is sticky and contaminates everything that it comes into contact with. The recent scandal that led to a wide-scale cabinet reshuffling broke out during the so-called “peace process” between the PKK, the armed organization of the Kurdish liberation movement, and the Turkish government. While generally, individual Kurds and some prominent local officials in the Kurdish provinces display an honest and conscientious attitude towards Armenians’ demands for genocide recognition, recently one of the top-level Kurdish leaders, a woman, Bese Hozat, made anti-Armenian, anti-Greek, and anti-Jewish statements, causing great disappointment and resentment among democratic forces in Turkey.
In an interview with the Kurdish Firat news agency about the “parallel state” (a trendy phrase nowadays to refer to the Islamic Fethullah Gulen movement), Hozat said: “The Jewish lobby, the nationalist Armenians and Greeks are such parallel states. Such parallel states are in touch with one another and have interests from each other. Parallel states do not have formal and constitutional rights. It seems they do not have troops either, but they have an organized and a strong structure and they hinder the efforts for democratization in Turkey.”
It was only a couple of weeks before that Rupen Janbazian, in the Armenian Weekly, wrote how he was deeply impressed by his visit to Diyarbakir/Dikranagerd. “What is interesting, however, was that nearly a century after the genocide began, the descendants of those Kurds not only accepted our delegation in Dikranagerd with open arms, but actually apologized, time and time again, for the part some of their ancestors had in the genocide—something Armenians across the world wish to hear from the government of Turkey,” he said. “Hospitality is a trait Armenians have been known to value for millennia, but what we experienced in our six days in Dikranagerd was something I had, quite unfortunately, never felt in Armenia nor in the Armenian Diaspora, not to that extent, anyway. These people, who I had heard only negative things about from so many of my compatriots, were not only taking us to all the sites of Armenian civilization and culture in the city, but were giving us the factual, unadulterated history behind these places.”
The only hope for a ‘Good Guy’
Were Bese Hozat’s words an answer to Rupen Janbazian? No, this discourse has its roots in the original corruption, the initial one—the genocide and its denial, the one that gave birth to the still-fuming swamp that contaminates everything, even the politics pursued by the most radical opponent of the present Turkish state, the PKK.
These words reflect the dirty politics that the PKK leadership is itself caught up in, in this fight between the two bad guys, believing it has to choose the one that will maintain official power for the sake of the “peace process,” which will mean nothing if the original corruption is not revealed, recognized, and compensated.
These words also reflect the Turkish state’s biggest fear: the possibility of mutual understanding and cooperation between the politically involved Armenians and Kurds. The PKK leadership is forced to give into the government’s demands for a concession by declaring that it will not challenge the official Turkish thesis on the Armenian question.
But these words do not belong to the people of Dikranagerd who welcomed Janbazian. Here is how Janbazian described them in the Armenian Weekly: “One would assume that a stadium full of Kurds who don’t understand Armenian would be bored, uninterested, and ultimately indifferent—especially since we were speaking as representatives of a people who once called these lands ‘home.’ Yet, we witnessed the exact opposite that day. As I read out loud what we had written in the Western Armenian dialect of my forefathers, the audience watched and listened attentively. It almost seemed like they understood everything I said.”
It is clear that the politically conscious sections of the Kurdish people are far ahead of the PKK leadership, which is more interested in gaining ground in the negotiations behind closed doors than adhering to the ideal of justice.
The emergence of a “good guy” in this disgusting action film will depend on whether or not the movement for recognition from below can become strong enough to challenge the denialism that spews from the swamp of corruption.

23 Comments on Turkey: An Action Movie without a ‘Good Guy’

  1. “Corruption forms the very texture of life in Turkey, because corruption is the initiator, the founder, the very reason for its existence. Less than 100 years ago, it was founded on the massive plunder of Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian property, and the unlawful transfer of their wealth to the state and to the local Muslim population.”
    Thank you, Ayse, for writing this truth. Please be safe wherever you are.
  2. avatar David Marshall // January 17, 2014 at 11:46 am // Reply
    Balanced. Well written, well said. Provides a critical and necessary background for the uninitiated.
  3. I guess you could say we have the government we deserve.
  4. Another masterly written, revealing analysis of the state of affairs in present day Turkey by Ayse Gunaysu. Thank you Ayse. Your insightful wiritings should help both Turks, Kurds as well as Armenians to better define where they stand towards each other. I will pray for your safety and well-being.
  5. avatar Ralph Magarian // January 17, 2014 at 12:40 pm // Reply
    Turkey: An action movie without a “good guy.” A well written concise narrative of present day Turkey problems in all aspects of Turkish life. But what can one expect from a country that extolls republicanism yet the government still has a residual Ottoman mentality.
  6. Ayse. I am speechless by your frank article on the truth of the Turkish State. I can only say THANK YOU!!!!! Please be Safe!
  7. LOL..After I read armenian articles about Turkey,I have feelings of pity and anger towards armenian groups..on the other hand I am of the opinion that you armenians have a huge desire to explain everything in terms of 1915…You live in the past because that’s where your thoughts are..I understand you are desperately seeking out an answer to a question everywhere but that’s all..May Allah help you inshallah!
    • This is surely a typical response from a typical ignorant and “loyal” Turk who neither has the integrity nor the intellectual capacity to express a point of view to defend or to try to dispute the author’s frank and eye-opening words against the corrupt leadership of a country with blood on its hands. Instead, just like a pre-programmed robot, he can’t help but throw in a poisonous remark completely unrelated to the topic of discussion in attempts to change the course of reality being discussed about the country to which he must remain loyal unconditionally like an illiterate brainwashed peasant.
      The truth and the words expressed in this article must be a kick in the face for the likes of you for whom his nation can do no wrong and anything negative spoken about it must be the works of some foreign conspirators. You indeed represent a model Turkish citizen and you deserve the government you got and more. Obviously, it is you who needs pity because Armenians “living in the past” is nothing but an expression of a hidden fear in you for exposing your criminal and genocidal past.
      The Armenians don’t need allah, whose teachings were used by racist Turkish Imams to help expedite race extermination, to help them with anything. You, on the other hand, need help from a shrink to get you out of that darkness you live in.
    • Well said Ararat. Well said.
  8. avatar David Marshall // January 17, 2014 at 2:56 pm // Reply
    I am not an Armenian, nor a Kurd, nor a Greek, or a Assyrian, but I have been working in the field of human rights for 40+ years, and I will say it again Atilla: “Balanced. Well written, well said. Provides a critical and necessary background for the uninitiated.”
  9. To: Atilla “the Hun”: Clearly a fair description of you and Your Government.
  10. would that be ATTILA THE HUN.
  11. Ayse Gunaysu is exceptional. She writes with clarity and truth about the criminal foundations of the Turkish state. Without coming to terms with this past (and present!), Turkey will remain stuck with corrupt and defunct governance.
    I hope Ms. Gunaysu’s article is available to the misnformed Turkish public. They can’t all be as closed-minded as poor Atilla!
  12. Allah=Death, inspired by Evil
  13. @ Atilla
    I advise you to learn good about our “PAST” , as your and your nations “future” is going to be shaped by our “past”…
  14. Ironically (or sadly for us Armenians), Turkey is doing much better in terms of democracy and corruption than Armenia. Folks in Armenia would dream to see their corrupt “leaders” go to jail. Here are the corruption index ranks of the two countries:
    Turkey: 53
    Armenia: 94
    These numbers should be embarassing for every patriotic Armenian. Until Armenia is a democracy, Armenians cannot even start to hope to gain anything out of anything going on in Turkey. In fact, given the demographic trends, my prediction is Armenia will not even be around in 20 years. That is, unless it becomes a democracy.
    • No, not really, Yıldırım քոչվորoğlu: read the title of the report. It says ‘Perceptions’. Nobody actually _measured_ it, buddy boy.
      These numbers not only are _not_ embarrassing, but they are meaningless.
      And my prediction for the next 20 years is this, Turkbeijani քոչվորoğlu:
      -your fake homeland of Turkbeijan will break up into several parts: Talyshstan, Lezgistan, Avaristan,…,Sultanate of Baku Khanate.
      -NKR will expand to the Kur river. Nakhichevan will be voluntarily returned to RoA.
      -Turkey will be effectively broken up into 3-4 parts, like Iraq: Kurdistan, Alevi/Shia, Islamist Sunni, Secular Kemalist.
      -RoA and (Turkish) Kurdistan will begin negotiations on how to come up with a mutually beneficial mechanism regarding Western Armenia.
      About those surveys and indexes. Here is a couple for your edification, sonny boy. I can come up with dozens and dozens more that measure something or other, but if you remember last semester you failed to progress to double-digit arithmetic: we are eager to educate you, but we do not want to reverse what little progress we have made with your education by causing an overload, son.
      [Global Food Index: Armenia is far ahead Azerbaijan in food quality and affordability]
      {In the Global Food Index affordability, quality and diversity ranking of food, compiled by the Oxfam International organization, Armenia is significantly ahead of Azerbaijan. Armenia took the 57th place in the overall ranking, Azerbaijan – the 91st. Georgia is not noted in this rating. Iran is on the 80th place, Turkey – on the 77th.}
      Armenia: 57
      Turkey: 77
      Turkbeijan: 91
      [Armenia Ranks High in Economic Freedom]
      {Armenia is ranked 18th among 43 countries in the Europe region in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom released by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation.
      Armenia’s neighboring countries and Customs Union member states are ranked as follows: Georgia, 22nd; Iran, 173rd; Azerbaijan, 81st; Turkey, 64th; Russia, 140th; Belarus, 150th; and Kazakhstan, 67th.}
      Armenia: 41
      Turkey: 64
      Turkbeijan: 81.
      And about that Democracy: go and spread your fake democracy in your fake homeland of Turkbeijan, Yıldırım քոչվորoğlu.
      Democracy reminder nomad:
      China: one party, autocratic rule.
      India: full democracy.
      China leaves India in the dust in every measure of human development, and economic & military progress.
      China just landed a robot on the Moon: only the 3rd country to do so.
      Meanwhile, India is making tremendous progress in the Gang Rape Index.
    • avatar Random Armenian // January 18, 2014 at 3:47 pm //
      You have a seething, irrational hatred of democracy. Why? There is a very high correlation between the level of democracy and the level of quality of life and a strong economy.
      Putting a rover on the moon is not an indicator of a good government. India for example has its own space program with their own indigenous rockets. They’re sending a probe to Mars. The Soviet Union put a man in orbit first, built space stations and also put rovers on the moon (there is an Armenian connection with that rover btw). But I doubt you’d want to live under a soviet/communist system of government. Even Iran is putting rockets and test animals into orbit.
      For all your cherry picking, it’s insanely easy to do the same by picking prosperous, low corruption, democratic countries to make authoritarian and autocratic countries look bad.
      You feel threatened by a democratic style government and country. Why? My guess is you don’t want your guy, Serj, threatened by votes and democracy.
      Are you currently living in a western, non-autocratic, country? I assume you are. Why aren’t you living in Armenia?
  15. avatar Garbis Yessayan // January 18, 2014 at 1:43 pm // Reply
    “Balanced. Well written, well said. Provides a critical and necessary background for the uninitiated.”
    “Thank you, Ayse Gunaysu, for writing this truth. Please be safe wherever you are.”
  16. The corruption in Turkey is further evidenced by those who have followed nato to their own shame I’m speaking of minister who tried to blame my President for being in cahoots with isis LOL
    The recent false and treacherous accusations spewed from the mouth of Turkish Foreign Minister Davutaglu are a sign of the growing desperation of the defeated west to salvage their standing.
    Their plots to take Bashars honor are in vain. Never would a honorable commanding officer ever give support to forces arrayed against his own brothers in arms.
    To suggest such a thing is dishonorable and surely an indication of Davutaglus own character.
  17. So let me get this straight … Vahagn here, when he voices opinions against Armenia (as you perceive it as such), then he is a fake Armenian or at least a bad one … But Ayse, when she does the same to her own people, then she is a sublime human being?
    My opinion on Ayse … There are certain kinds of people in the world who derive pleasure from being contrarian or anti-establishment. It is from such people that Soviet communism tried to build a revolutionary group in Turkey. The cold war is over, but these confused souls are still left there, influencing a next generation of rebels without a cause … Some, like Ayse, have found a cause in the Armenian Genocide. Which in itself is a noble cause. The problem is, doesn’t Turkey have its own deep problems with poverty, democracy, etc? If she is trying to do good, why does she do it for another nation’s interests and not her own? Well, that would not be contrarian enough, that is why! Not to further deconstruct her motivations, she also seems to be a narcissistic person seeking at least some form of praise (even contrarians need it). What is the point of her coming and saying all this to Armenians if not to get a pat on the back, WHILE at the same time feeling like she is a true contrarian. A great bargain indeed.
    Ayse, yes, Turkey, as any former empire, has a lot of skeletons in its closet. One does not build an empire without them. Look at America. Built upon the genocide of MANY nations … a whole race in fact. And has constructed a country on the back of slave labor, and still exploiting their descendents. The only country that has used a nuclear bomb upon civilian cities. Yes, Turkey is not perfect. But that does not give you a moral right to trash it amongst its sworn enemies. You have every right to say what you say. But why say it here? Are you that desperate for an applause?
    • avatar Ayşe Günaysu // January 18, 2014 at 6:26 pm //
      Karim, whoever you are (I am using my own name, written exactly as it is written on my official Turkish ID, but I don’t know who you are, I am in the open but you are not, you are hiding, I am not), you ask if I am that desperate for an applause. Here is the answer: I am saying all these in my home country for 20 years and am hated by the majority of my compatriots, seen as a traitor, insulted in internet forums, even threatened. I have written hundreds of articles in Turkish in Turkey hundred times more in length than I have written in Armenian Weekly. I am in the conference rooms, meeting halls and on the street as well. It’s just that you can’t believe an ethnic Turk and Sunni Muslim by birth can sincerely, honestly believe what he/she is saying against his/her own country’s government policies, isn’t it? Well, I am not alone. We are here in Turkey, openly doing what we do, writing what we write, unmasked. Where are you? THis is the first time I answer an insult in AW website, and it will be the last.
  18. Dear Ayşe,
    I have to congratulate you, and thanks to you, for your determination as a Turkish lady journalist with a such a courage, and bravery, uncovering the hidden truth of Turkey’s past, where most liberal minded Turkish intellectuals are afraid to do so!

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