ASSESMENT OF THE COUP ATTEMPT BY THE GREENS OF TURKEY
Turkey has survived a bloody coup attempt. On the night of the 15th of July, the group included many senior officers who formed a junta in the army went on an armed rising. The not insubstantial military forces involved used force to acquire strategic targets. The instigators of the coup attacked many institutions with fighter jets and helicopters, chief and foremost the parliament building. They conducted a commando operation to murder the president. They opened fire with heavy weapons on citizens who went out on the streets and squares and stood in front of tanks to prevent the coup thus killing 240 people, 173 of them civilians. They also made passes at low altitude with jets over Ankara and Istanbul, scaring and driving people to panic. Despite all this, the coup attempt proved unsuccessful, thanks to the resistance of the people, and to the president and government, opposition parties, civil society and press acting as a united front. This is a first in the history of Turkey.
The repelling of the coup attempt by all forces of democracy keeps our hopes for democracy alive. Immediately after the attempt, all political parties with groups in parliament (AKP, CHP, HDP and MHP) conveying in a parliamentary session to proclaim a common declaration against the coup is encouraging in terms of prospects of harmony.
We want to believe that there is an opportunity to come out of this crisis with our face turned in the direction of the democracy we long for.
The Gülen Community, understood to be the chief perpetrator of the coup attempt (yet which seems not to have been alone in the attempt) was able to organise in important institutions such as the army, police, and judiciary, despite all warnings in the past, and this is due to the AKP government’s turning a deaf ear to it and even enabling it. This community, functioning as a criminal organisation, filled bureaucratic ranks with their numbers through unjust appointments, stealing examination questions to place supporters to schools and state institutions, and conducting campaigns of frustrating and defamation to clear those outside of their group from military schools, the army, and civilian bureaucracy. With their members in the police and the judiciary, they created false evidence in court cases regarding previous coup allegations and were able to prevent justice being carried out, having those whom they see as rivals arrested and taken out of their way. Warnings that the group seized control to such a level were not paid enough attention by the political administration. The investigations started in the period up to the coup also seem to have been ineffective. As a result, this group led an unexpected coup attempt, and the failure of the attempt saved the country from plunging into much greater turmoil.
Right now, the litigating of the instigators of the coup attempt and the swift purging of this illegal community’s organization from the military and civilian bureaucracy is at the top of Turkey’s agenda. In order to dispose of the coup threat completely, it is necessary to determine and prosecute all those trenched in important institutions, who were involved in the planning and organisation of the coup. Still, following the declaration of a state of emergency, the government decrees with statuary effect that can be understood to be disproportional and pose the danger of being misused in an arbitrary fashion make some of the experience in the process unlawful and unacceptable practices. We are living through a period when the assurance of justice is nullified through the frequently issued government decrees with statuary effect that seem to overstep the bounds of stopping the coup attempt and purging institutions of its extensions.
The government has taken into custody a considerable number of civil servants it sees to be related to the Gülen Community, it has suspended more out of concern that their staying on the job will impede the investigation. Yet, many including journalists, writers and academics were also some how traced to have relations with the Gülen Community and have started to be taken under custody. Universities, NGOs, newspapers, television stations were closed in one day, with a single government decree. The government response is reaching a point where thousands of civilians, citizens including teachers, low-ranking civil servants and NGO workers are wronged and dispossessed of their livelihood while they have no relation to the attempted coup other than simply being close to the group, working in schools related to the Gülen Community. If there are, among these people, those involved in the many crimes and rights violations the Community steered in the past, those should be investigated and proven individually without restricting their right to legal defence and in just trials, per the principle that crime and its punishment are personal responsibilities. We oppose the fact that tens of thousands of people are being judged wholesale without due process. It seems unavoidable that all state institutions will go through a restructuring now. This restructuring should not be, as in past examples, politically motivated and based on the whim of those in government; all civil society and citizens should pay close attention so that this is done in a way that upholds the democratic functioning of institutions and universal norms, and is based on merit and human rights. Most importantly, Turkey must be taken out of the state of emergency where it is ruled through government decrees with statuary effect as soon as possible; democratic politics must be allowed to function, the parliament must work, and the rule of law instated.
We are worried that the operation to root out coup plotters will not abide by universal human rights and law standards and may be seen as an opportunity and turned into a witch-hunt that will persecute all dissent. The attempts by crowds at lynching the surrendering soldiers after the coup attempt, the torture of those that were captured can in no way be condoned. The 30-day custody period under the state of emergency and the denial of the right to have an attorney present, and thus where the right of legal defence is violated, increase the chances of torture. Allegations of torture and of other right violations have to be taken seriously and independent organisations have to be allowed to inspect the places of custody. We are also concerned that the calls by the government for the people to keep filling the squares after the coup, involves the risk of encouraging a discourse that does not serve societal peace. The continuing demonstrations are positive in showing the people are claiming ownership of democracy and in remembering those who were killed by the coup attempters. Yet, both the language used by the government and the anti-secular and overly nationalistic political discourse on the squares is and continues to be divisive, polarising. More nationalism, more religious fundamentalism, more personality cult does not serve to strengthen democracy but rather the authoritarian autocratic regime that the governing party has for several years been attempting to establish.
We are deeply disturbed about the discussion around the return of the death penalty that has been stubbornly kept on the agenda by the AKP, even if with populist concerns, and the promotion of gun-ownership, in this climate. The return of the death penalty will mean the elimination of Turkey’s most important gains in terms of democratising, in the single stroke of a pen. Neither would the sense that the government is trying to create an armed civilian militia loyal to itself serve to promote societal peace.
Yet, we are equally disturbed by the proposals voiced in Europe for Turkey to be rejected from its EU accession process and the halting of Turkey’s accession negotiations in light of such violations and concerns in the post-coup attempt environment.
One must never forget the role of the laws promulgated and policies implemented in the process of EU negotiations where the struggle for human rights and democratisation in Turkey is concerned. Chief among these, the abolition of the death penalty, the effort against torture, the wider avenues for seeking justice are all reforms promulgated by parliament as part of the EU negotiations process. It is evident that halting or cancelling Turkey’s accession process will serve no one’s interest.
We deem European criteria as essential for democracy to regain function in Turkey. This is also the key to democracy and political stability in Europe. Many crises that Europe are living through, chief among them the refugee crisis, are directly related to the erosion of democracy in Turkey. Thus, we see the need to revitalise EU-Turkey relations in the spirit of a new beginning. We urge that Turkey’s EU accession talks should not be halted, but on the contrary, accelerated towards a result. We call on the government of Turkey and the European Union and political parties and politicians in EU countries to act now to revitalise Turkey’s EU accession process.
We are concerned that the interpretations of rightful calls by EU leaders may be used to foster anti-European sentiments in Turkey. Both the amity between the EU and Turkey and political conditions necessitate that political circles and civil society in Europe on the one hand keep warning Turkey about not ignoring human rights and universal legal rules and on the other make calls for a fast return to democracy and continue its support, that all political parties and civil society keep in dialogue with the government. In these days when EU-Turkey relations have hit rock bottom due to a multitude of reasons, we expect Europe and European leaders to avoid an attitude that may be construed to argue they support the coup or coup-plotters. It is essential that we stand aside the people who went out on to squares to stop the coup attempt, so that we can together advance the struggle for democracy.
The ripping of Turkey apart from Western democracies and its condemning to solitude will not be good for those who fight for democracy in Turkey, nor will it be good for Europe. It will regress Turkey where democracy and rights struggles are concerned. European Greens have always expressed Turkey is part of Europe in the highest of voices and have shown they are beside Turkey even in hardest times. Our expectation from European Greens is that they try to better understand the extra-ordinary times we are going through, that they advocate cooperation and support so as to prevent Turkey drifting further away from European norms of democracy.
There is another danger in that when the President of Turkey met with leaders of parties with parliamentary groups, HDP, which has the third largest group in parliament and which has signed the declaration against the coup attempt along with other parties, was singled out and not invited. The pushing out of the political sphere of the HDP, which has been speaking out against the coup attempt since the night of the 15th of July and which has the restart of peace negotiations in Turkey as its primary goal, will not serve societal peace. We have seen what polarisation and declaring certain parts of society as enemies results in. As much as the rekindling of the EU accession process, what we need for normalisation now is the silencing of weapons and the opening of avenues for civilian, democratic politics in the solution of the Kurdish question. To serve this purpose, we demand primarily the parliamentary decision removing MPs’ immunity that was instigated in order to dismiss HDP MPs from parliament needs to be cancelled. Further, there must be a return to the 28 February 2015 Dolmabahçe consensus, and the peace talks must restart. The Kurdish political movement too must continue to voice loudly that no problem can be resolved through war and violence and that weapons must be silenced. European political circles too must do all they can to end the war in Turkey, for the silencing of weapons and for the resolution of the Kurdish question in a non-violent, democratic way.
We will continue to on the one hand keep damning the 15th of July bloody coup attempt as we have opposed all previous coups, and on the other keep working and warning in order that Turkey attains a sustainable democracy, the parliamentary system lives on, its EU perspective is preserved, peace is achieved, and universal rules of human rights and law are applicable, so that we never again face the threat of a coup.
Ahmet Atıl Aşıcı, Özgecan Kara, Sevgi Mutlu, Sevil Turan, Ümit Şahin
On behalf of a group from the Greens of Turkey.
Wir als Grüne Jugend Hessen sind äußerst besorgt über die Entwicklungen in der Türkei. Erst kürzlich äußerte der türkische Wirtschaftsminister Nihat Zeybekçi, „[man werde die Gefangenen] so hart bestrafen, dass sie flehen werden: ,Lasst uns sterben, damit wir erlöst werden!‘ [man werde] sie in so tiefe Löcher werfen, dass sie kein Sonnenlicht mehr sehen, solange sie atmen. […] Sie werden in zwei Quadratmeter großen Löchern sterben wie Kanalratten.“ Menschenrechtsorganisationen wie Amnesty International berichten von Misshandlungen, Vergewaltigungen und sogar Folter. Vielen würde über einen längeren Zeitraum hinweg der Zugang zu Wasser, Essen und Medikamenten sowie Rechtsbeistand und Kontakt zu Angehörigen verwehrt. Zudem werden Grundrechte wie die Pressefreiheit massiv eingeschränkt. Besonders die massenhaften Entlassungen und Inhaftierungen und der Umgang mit den Verhafteten bereiten uns große Sorgen.
Wir fordern die Türkei zur Einhaltung der Demokratie und Menschenrechte auf. Wir warnen gleichzeitig vor einer Vereinfachung der Probleme und schließen uns daher den Aussagen einiger türkischer Grünen Politiker*innen an, die erklären: „Sowohl die von der [türkischen] Regierung verwendete Sprache, als auch der anti-säkulare und stark nationalistische politische Diskurs auf den Straßen ist und wird weiter entzweien und polarisieren. Ein starker Nationalismus, ein starker religiöser Fundamentalismus und ein starker Personenkult führen keinesfalls zu mehr Demokratie, sondern fördern das autoritäre und autokratische Regime, das die Regierungspartei seit einigen Jahren zu etablieren versucht. […] Wir verurteilen einerseits den blutigen Putsch-Versuch vom 15. Juli, wie wir es auch mit allen bisherigen Putsch-Versuchen getan haben, andererseits warnen wir [vor den aktuellen Entwicklungen] und werden unsere Arbeit weiterhin fortsetzen, bis in der Türkei eine nachhaltige Demokratie errichtet und das parlamentarische System gefestigt ist, die Perspektive auf einen EU-Beitritt erhalten bleibt, Frieden erreicht und die universellen Menschenrechte sowie Gesetze angewendet werden, so dass wir nie wieder vor der Gefahr eines Putsches stehen.“
Der vollständige Brief der türkischen Grünen: