Turkish News Folder, 21 February 2012

CHP to Appeal MIT Act to Constitutional Court

AKP missed another major chance to democratize Turkey by passing a one-article MIT Act. The act requires prosecutors to obtain permission from the Prime Minister’s office before investigating or interrogating MIT operatives.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu bashed the act in the starkest terms possible:

“Turkey’s main opposition accused the prime minister on Tuesday of trying to tighten his grip on the security services with a proposed law that would curb the powers of the judiciary to investigate senior intelligence officials.

It was hastily drafted after prosecutors summoned Turkey’s top spy last week and lawmakers from Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party pushed it through a parliamentary commission on Tuesday night. It will be put to a general assembly vote this week.

The law would mean top officials from Turkey’s spy agency could not be questioned without the Prime Minister’s permission.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party – CHP, said by limiting the powers of the state to investigate top spies, the prime minister would effectively be creating a “gang” answerable only to him.

“Will Tayyip Erdogan be given the power to establish a gang? Even if this gang betrays its country it will not be able to be tried,” Kilicdaroglu said.

“The prime minister could say to his gang: ‘Go kill the president’. Is this a possibility? It is a possibility.”[1]

As it is its custom AKP refused to heed the warnings by the opposition, passing the bill unilaterally. It was signed into law within six hours by Turkey’s docile and pro-AKP president Mr. Gul. Thus, Premier Erdogan’s pet bureaucrat MIT chief Mr. Hakan Fidan and all of his associates have been decked in a mantle of immunity, a privilege nowadays not even granted to Chiefs of Military Staff, or to 8 deputies who still languish in the prison.

On Monday, CHP announced its appeal of the law at the Constitutional Court:

“The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Monday announced that it will challenge a law passed last week making changes to the law on the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), which was swiftly adopted after a prosecutor attempted to summon five former and current MİT executives as suspects in an outlawed investigation.

The announcement came from CHP parliamentary group deputy chairman Akif Hamzaçebi. “Mr. President might have ratified this law,” he said. “It might be in force. The prosecutors might have ended the probe [into MİT execs], but we will speedily challenge this law at the Constitutional Court.”

Hamzaçebi did not specify when the CHP will make the move, but said “in a very short time” in response to a journalist’s query on the planned timing.

He also said the CHP found the president’s speedy ratification of the law questionable, saying the hastiness the president showed in ratifying the law was a “violation of the will of the nation.” He added the parliamentary majority of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) did not reflect the will of the Turkish nation.

The MİT law was changed to necessitate special permission from the Prime Ministry for investigating high-level intelligence officials after a prosecutor investigating the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), an outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-related network, alleged that some MİT agents inside the KCK/PKK had collaborated in terror crimes.

The amendment, Hamzaçebi said, was a “grave” mistake, noting that the law concerning MİT, which has been in force since 1983, was very specific about the sphere of MİT duties. He said that according to this law, the prime minister did not have the authority to give assignments to MİT. “The prime minister did not have the right to give an assignment to MİT until the latest amendment. This has opened the possibility of the government using MİT outside its own sphere of duty and for its own interests. This new amendment implicitly gives the prime minister the right to give assignments to MİT. This is unacceptable in a democracy.”

Hamzaçebi also expressed his opinion that the public was against the legislative change that amended the law on MİT. He recalled that two MİT officers had been arrested as part of a probe in Erzincan last year. He claimed that the government’s move to change the legislation to prevent the interrogation of MİT officers by a prosecutor this time could open a “shady area” in which the government will have greater room to maneuver.[2]

Kilicdaroglu Proposes Abolishing Special Criminal Courts

AKP’s opportunism is a major misfortune for Turkey. The MIT bill could have been enlarged to amend the Anti-Terror Law, Felony Court Procedures Law and finally the notorious Special Criminal Court Law to rein in a judiciary—largely appointed by AKP- running amok with human rights, civil liberties and freedom of expression in the country.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu expressed his views on Special Criminal Courts in an interview with private broadcaster NTV:

“Special Criminal Courts date back to the coup era. Courts established under the supervision of the military junta…. As Turkey retuned to civilian control, somehow the authorities could not let go of these courts. Hence, they were re-named “State Security Courts”. Then, as accession with EU began, to counter objections they were re-named a second time. The military judge on the bench was replaced with a civilian, and they were called “Special Criminal Courts”. They still get their powers and inspiration from the junta-drafted constitution. In a state where rule of law reigns supreme, there is no room for special courts using extralegal methods to try the defendants.

Special Criminal Courts are not expert courts, either. I mean they are not like family court or juvenile courts. These courts act as the sharp end of the political authority, to oppress the society, to intimate it by demonstrating the politicians’ power by employing special methods of trial against defendants. We strongly advocate the abolishment of these courts. There is not one example of Special Criminal Courts in EU. We emphasize that the judiciary is an integrated whole that treats all the defendants equally”[3].

CHP Secretary General Bihlun Tamayligil Defends HEPP Victims

With most of the judiciary firmly under AKP’s thumb, and the rest-reportedly—taking instructions from religious leader Fethullah Gulen, Turkey is rapidly becoming the country in Kafka’s nightmarish novels. CHP is the only party that is putting up a principled resistance against the politicization of the judiciary and its increasing propensity to become a tool for totalitarian control.

CHP Secretary General Mrs. Bihlun Tamayligil defended 17 year old Ms Leyla Yalcinkaya, currently charged with nine years in a sham trial for protesting against the construction of a HEPP that would destroy her village and her way of life. “With each passing day, Turkey is distancing itself from the rule of law. The latest and most tragic evidence for that are the charges against 17 year old Leyla Çetinkaya for protesting against the HEPP in Tortum, Erzurum. She is charged with 9 years.”

She is not the only one, for the grand crime of protesting peacefully, many women from the village including 86 year old “Grandma Nafiye” have been dragged on the ground, detained and mistreated. Ms Leyla Çetinkaya was slapped a gag order forbidding her to speak with her grandma and the rest of her family.

[1] http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-turkey-intelligencetre81d21k-20120214,0,6534084.story

[2] http://www.worldbulletin.net/?aType=haber&ArticleID=86083

[3] http://avrupabirligihaberleri.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/genel-baskan-kemal-kilicdaroglu-ozel-yetkili-mahkemeler-icin-ntv-yayininda-bana-soylesinler-su-avrupa-birliginde-su-mahkeme-vardir-benzer-bir-mahkeme-vardir-desinler/

About CHP EU Representation

The CHP was founded on 9 September 1923, about one and half month before the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey. The first President of modern Turkey’s oldest party was M. Kemal Atatürk. Today CHP is a social-democratic party, member of the Socialist International and associate member of the Socialist Group at the European Parliament. The scope of the CHP bureau in Brussels is not limited to the bilateral framework of Turkey's EU accession process. Issues such as the information society, energy policies, social development, climate change, international trade and security are among the different focus areas. The EU-Turkey relations are about integration and need multiple, plural and horizontal channels of communication. The CHP supports and promotes Turkey's EU membership process also by being more present and active in Brussels The CHP's Representative to the EU is Ms Kader Sevinç who previously worked as an MEP advisor at the European Parliament and in the private sector.
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