My comment: Slow-motion coup


It is the case of Sisyphus. The king of Ephyra was given a punishment wherein he had to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill, watch it roll back down and repeat this desperate action for all eternity.
After years of hard, abrasive work to shake off the remnants of its authoritarian, suppressive past, it is becoming more and more clear that Turkey is unable to resist the magnetic power of the model of rule designed by the generals who overthrew the government on Sept. 12, 1980.

We realize how powerful its impact on the political culture has been. Hunger for absolute power is definitely internalized among the civilian political classes and, no matter how much the people desire a life of freedom, serenity and stability, whomever they elect exposes his or her real self at the end, confirming the intensity of that political culture. In that sense, there is not much difference to be seen between Adnan Menderes, a prime minister of Turkey who was executed, and Kenan Evren, the leader of the junta. The only exceptions, perhaps, were the late politicians Turgut Özal and Erdal İnönü, both victimized for their “civilian normality.”

Now, we are witnessing a period where all the differences between the prime minister and a power hungry four-star general have swiftly evaporated.

Desperate to avoid all accountability, possibly fearful of the prospect that he may end up a case for the Supreme Court and defiant of checks and balances, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is now in the midst of a struggle. In a huge gamble for political survival, he has invested all in an authoritarian future.

If the Internet bill was an attempt to prevent the public from sharing realities, the successful push for passing the changes in the so-called Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) law is a defining attempt of the political executive. It is using the party’s domination in legislative numbers to curb the “third estate,” despite sharp warnings from home and abroad not to do so.

Now, we have the following situation: The bills have been passed in what could possibly be called an abuse of the mandate that was given to the ruling party in the 2010 referendum and 2011 elections. Erdoğan annulled the referendum vote on the HSYK reform, replacing the will of the people with his, and declared an open challenge to the integrity of judges and prosecutors, who are a big blend of affiliations, ideologies and professional experiences.

If the Internet law is a defiance of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR, which Article 90 of Turkish Constitution holds must be upheld), the HSYK law is, without a doubt, an unconstitutional act, since it apparently contradicts with Article 159.

Erdoğan knows this. But, nothing matters any more.

The fourth estate is more or less submissive. The main source of news, consumed by the overwhelming majority of Turkish society, TV, is now under a de-facto government monopoly. Each time the prime minister has a public rally to disseminate fervent propaganda, almost all the private news channels willingly air them.

The Internet law is intended to make sure that all attempts to establish independent venues for disseminating information and opinions are thwarted, or at least deterred.

But the subordination of the third estate to the political executive is even far more serious. Erdoğan’s myopia, caused by desperation, is preventing him from understanding the fact that he is sowing seeds of evil, which will only strengthen the appetite of all those who represent the culture of the Sept. 12 coup and increase its magnetic power. It is definitely not what the Turkish people of 2014 want, nor what this country needs.

All the moves and steps since Dec. 17 have remained steady. On Dec. 18, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) practically disbanded the commission that was put together to prepare a new Constitution. If anything, that drastic move was revealing enough to help understand what really is taking place.

Call a spade a spade: What we are witnessing is a new form of coup, one in slow motion and accompanied by “bogeyman” rhetoric, paranoia and a threat to the democratic order.


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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