Turkey's 'concentration camp' for secularists

Turkish prosecutor probes opposition over plot trial remark
Turkey's main opposition leader is being investigated over critical remarks he made about a prison near Istanbul and the integrity of judges presiding over the "Ergenekon" trials, state media reported on Monday.

The probe into remarks by Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu was launched three days after the arrest of a former armed forces chief in the sweeping investigation into alleged plots to overthrow the government by the underground Ergenekon network.

The arrest of Ilker Basbug, who retired in 2010, was a stunning blow to the prestige of the military, once the most powerful body in the country.

Hundreds of people, including military officers, academics, lawyers and journalists, have been arrested in the Ergenekon investigation, though many people are sceptical about the existence of the shadowy network described by prosecutors.

Ergenekon is seen as part of a power struggle between the secularist establishment and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's AK party, which has roots in a banned Islamist party and swept to power in 2002.

The investigation of Kilicdaroglu follows remarks he made on a visit to two party deputies - both Ergenekon defendants - in Silivri prison west of Istanbul, and his critical comments on special courts set up for Ergenekon trials.

State media quoted him as saying Silivri prison was like a "concentration camp." ...
Turkey's Former Top Soldier Arrested Over Alleged Coup Plot
General Ilker Basbug, Turkey's top soldier until 2010, was jailed Friday morning, the highest ranking officer arrested to date in a group of court cases alleging a terrorist plot to topple the government.

The former Chief of the General Staff was taken to jail to await trial following an hours-long interrogation by prosecutors Thursday afternoon. Shortly after midnight, a court accepted the prosecutors' request to formally detain Gen. Basbug.

The questioning and arrest were in connection with an alleged internet campaign launched by lower ranking military officers that established news and other websites aimed at discrediting the Islamic-leaning government of Turkey's Justice and Development Party, or AKP, with a view to toppling it after its election in 2002.

Hundreds of defendants, including more than 100 military officers, plus journalists and academics are currently awaiting or on trial in cases related to the alleged coup plot. Defendants and many analysts argue the cases have become a political tool to discredit and weaken Turkey's once all-powerful armed forces...

In the early hours of January 6, 2012, General İlker Başbuğ, who served as chief of the Turkish General Staff from 2008 to 2010, was arrested and imprisoned on allegations of “founding or directing an armed terrorist organization” and “inciting the overthrow of the government of the Turkish Republic or the prevention of it fulfilling its duties”. For many, the arrest of Başbuğ on terrorist charges will be regarded not so much as demonstrating that the General staff is no longer untouchable but that the Fethullah Gülen Movement has the power to imprison whoever it likes...

Başbuğ is the highest-ranking member of the Turkish military to be arrested since the Ergenekon investigation was first launched in June 2007. When news of his arrest broke, pro-AKP journalists fervently proclaimed that it marked another step towards the “normalization” of civil-military relations and was proof that, with the former commander of the once untouchable General staff behind bars, nobody was now above the law. In reality, the picture is considerably more disturbing.

Defenders of the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases often argue that, even if they contain some flaws, they are nevertheless necessary in order to break the political power of the General staff. In fact, the Ergenekon investigation was only launched when the AKP was confident that the General staff was a spent force politically and that the era of military tutelage was finally over. Since 2007, over 600 defendants have been charged in the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer cases, including nearly 400 serving and retired members of the military. In the Sledgehammer case alone, 250 officers are currently in prison pending trial, including more than 50 serving generals and admirals. The case against them rests on a purported coup plot which prosecutors allege was initiated in December 2002 and finalized in March 2003 – even though it contains references to events in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. As with the prosecutor’s claim that approval of propaganda websites is proof that Başbuğ is a member of an “armed terrorist organization”, the irrationality of the Sledgehammer allegations has failed to halt the case or to persuade the court to release the defendants pending the completion of their trial.

If, as currently seems likely, Başbuğ is eventually explicitly charged with membership of Ergenekon, he will join a motley collection of defendants whose only common characteristic appears to be that they are opposed to the AKP or have alienated followers of the exiled Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. Critics maintain that Gülen’s supporters now control large sections of the police force and judicial system and are driving both the Ergenekon and the Sledgehammer investigations.
Turkish ex-president Kenan Evren faces coup charge
A Turkish court has accepted indictments against the country's seventh president, Kenan Evren, for his role in the 1980 army coup.

Prosecutors are seeking life terms for Gen Evren, 94, and another retired general, Tahsin Sahinkaya, 86, the only survivors among the five coup leaders.

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday the time for coups was over...

The indictment of the surviving leaders of the 12 September 1980 coup is seen as a result of changes to Turkey's 1982 constitution, under which the leaders of the army had been given effective immunity from prosecution.

The authors of this video, Pınar Doğan and Dani Rodrik, are the daughter and son-in-law of Çetin Doğan, currently in prison as the alleged leader of the Sledgehammer plot.

File under: democracy is a train ride in Muslim countries, a one-way ticket to Islamic theocracy.


  1. If Turkey is supposed to be the role model for the Arab Spring then the whole of Arabia is doomed to revert to 7th Century Islam. This is what Obama has wrought.

  2. Yeah, go figure. Obama has "bent the arc of history" back towards fundamentalist Islam. Such is the ignorance of Islam today.