What the release operation demonstrates - ATILLA YAYLA

What the release operation demonstrates

As you already know, the judiciary in Turkey does not have a clean and proud record. Unfortunately, the judiciary has never been fully independent and impartial, nor did it act in such manner. It did (and could) not hesitate to position itself against democratic politics and the society as part of the state apparatus. For decades, it served as the least conspicuous but the most fortified tool of the bureaucratic tutelage system, and to express it more clearly, it served as the stronghold of that system. Whereas it had to serve as a tool of law, it was instrumentalized in a way which would make it serve the needs of the tutelage system, which the law was a part of. It is this pathetic situation of the judiciary which would draw the attention of those who write about the history of the Republic-era judiciary.

The judiciary has many issues which are perceptibly reflected. From time to time, I try to point these out in my pieces and speeches. Without a doubt, one of the most important issues is the fact that the judiciary is very eager to exploit detentions as a tool and rather insistent on prolonging detention periods as a means to turn it into a sort of punishment. This serious problem which has existed for years has especially drawn public attention during the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer coup attempt) trials. This practice, which had not been noticed by the public when ordinary people were victimized, has cut a wide swath when prominent people in society and military bureaucrats were subjected to it. In the aforementioned trials, many military officers were imprisoned rather than being released pending trial and –by means of stripping them of their freedoms for a long period-were virtually punished in advance, violating the principle of presumption of innocent until found guilty.

Now we are facing crucial trial periods again. Many bureaucrats, who are allegedly members of the autonomous structure within the state (referred to as the Gülen Movement) are slowly appearing before the courts. Claiming that these trials are unnecessary means turning a blind eye to the truth and the needs of the state governed by the rule of law. For those who are allegedly responsible for unlawfully wiretapping hundreds of thousands of people, plotting against innocent people to harm them through the judiciary, the wiretapping and release of confidential political meetings within the state, carrying out operations against the Turkish National Intelligence Organization's trucks carrying humanitarian aid to Syria, the theft of exam questions to be handed to affiliated members must certainly be brought to justice. Otherwise, kissing democracy goodbye, never achieving the sovereignty of law and surrendering to unlawful powers, which have infiltrated state apparatus, will be the determinants of our fate. However, utmost attention must be paid in these trials to ensure that the mistakes made in Ergenekon and Balyoz trials are not repeated again. Under this framework, detentions should not be resorted to unless they are necessary, and they should not be prolonged and turned into a punishment.

Having said that, it is evident that the release operation we witnessed which took place last weekend was unlawful. The fact that the main actors on the surface were judges does not suffice to ensure that they were done in line with the law. The methodological and fundamental rules of law primarily bind legal officials. Under this framework, nobody can violate the way trials are conducted, step in areas where they have no authority, nor attempt to carry out processes violating the laws and procedures. The details reflected on the media indicate that the judges have attempted to –by overstepping the scope of their authority and creating unlawful template justifications- collectively release some suspects who were detained. Even though it is desirable to not keep people under detention for a long period and to release them pending trial, the attempt to do this through unlawful means is unacceptable and intolerable. The information shown on the media prove that the general methods and authorization rules have been violated and the related judges have carried out this operation through unusual means and exclusive proceedings.

Another truth revealed by this operation is that an autonomous structure exists within the state –which has extensions in the judiciary-. All data indicates that the structure acts based on a chain of command in an organized manner and utmost effort has been spent to enable the affiliated judicial bureaucrats to take action. This incident presents yet another proof about the existence of the autonomous structure and its activities. There is quite a number of neo-nationalist, Kemalist and other judges who share a common ideology with the military officials, who were being tried. However, these, too, did not attempt to carry out such an operation. Either they did not think of doing such a thing, or because they did not act in accordance with a hierarchy like the autonomous structure called the Gülen Movement. Therefore, the existence of the structure and its activities has once again been proved through this operation. I think, it is highly likely that those who did not realize the autonomous structure until now will once again –for whatever reason they did in the past- turn a blind eye to the explicit dimensions of this dire and terrifying attempt and its connections with the structure. However, their attitude will not change the verdict given by history about this incident.


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