Aktar: A society that has been able to digest huge crimes such as genocides digests the unlawfulness, injustice, malpractice and the stolen money easily. There is an enormous digestive capacity in Turkey society. But, today we need to face it; it’s that simple.
Political scientist Cengiz Aktar is one of the leading experts of the European Union. He worked as an executive for many years in the United Nations. Especially the European Union’s migration and asylum politics, he worked on and wrote about democratization in Turkey, westernization, decentralization and human rights. He took part in the deepening and enlargement processes of the EU. We talked about Turkey’s future with Aktar who examines Turkey’s domestic and foreign politics regularly with his studies, books, and articles.
In this interview, we discussed the repressive regime in Turkey, the stance of the opposition, the next elections, the relationship between the political forces and Turkey’s foreign policy. With his extraordinary comments, Aktar explained bravely not only the political life, history, crimes, mood and habits of the country, but also Istanbul elections that will be repeated in Turkey.
Where is Turkey going?
It’s not going anywhere, it’s gone as far back as it can. A clogged society can’t go anywhere.
If we start with the phrase “one who is standing falls”, it is regressing. The majority of society is not capable of responding to the question, “Why are we in this situation?”
Do you think they’re asking the question?
The question is not even asked. The answer of those who ask it is short: Political Islam. “Political Islam did this, if it were Atatürk, Kemalism, we would not be like this.” The whole approach, question, and answer proceeds in this manner. Is it possible to get something out of this manner? No. That is why Turkey is not going anywhere. There are missing questions and answers, laziness. I am not hopeful. It’s a very timid society to ask real questions. How easy is it to decay? How everything is dumped? These questions are legitimate but no asking.
LAUSANNE PEACE TREATY IS A SAVING INTERNATIONAL CONTRACT FOR TURKEY
Is this decay just a problem of the last period?
Of course not. I’m taking it up to the genocides because I have a preliminary assumption: a society that has been able to digest the huge crimes such as the Armenian Genocide and the genocides will digest the illegality, injustice, corruption and stolen money easily. There is an enormous digestive capacity in Turkey society. Nobody wants to ask these questions. They don’t want to go back that far, not even my best friends. “Passed, gone, finished, let’s look at the present,” they say. But today, we need this confrontation to make things happen, to be stable. It is that simple.
How many communities did this? What is an exemplary society? German society, of course. There are a few other communities, but they are very problematic. When there’s no confrontation, ghosts come running back. Poland and Hungary, for example, have not asked themselves the right questions about the Holocaust. How are they doing now? Because their foundations are not solid, and also Turkey. It didn’t go into World War II, so it avoided asking these questions. It was left on the sidelines and forgotten. Lausanne is an international treaty that provided Turkey not to ask those questions.
I offer to face it now, but young people do not even know what the Armenian, Greek mean. They treat as foreigners to the Armenians and the Greeks. Therefore, it is very difficult to cope with these issues for Turkey. In the past, there was light: the European Union. I think if Turkey joined the EU, maybe, it could have a chance to recover such as Poland and Hungary. But, there is no opportunity. It is no longer a possibility. We have a very difficult period ahead, including civil war and coup.
Your answer pushes me to ask a lot of questions, but let’s go in turn. You talked about the confrontation, and we see that the Gülen Community has recently taken a different position in the Armenian Genocide and the Kurdish problem. I think their starting point is that“If they did to us so, who knows what they did to them.” Do you find this approach sincere? Did people begin to realize it after what happened to them, or because they are alone, are they trying to approach the other ones?
Some of the community’s thinkers ask the questions you mentioned, but others don’t, which I see. It is not an interrogation that covers the whole community, but yes, these questions are asked especially by the writers and readers. What you’re saying is actually a human approach. This interrogation is very understandable because people realize when something like that happens to them.
Is it good to realize when something like that happens to us? Does it take us anywhere?
Sure it will. As different from other communities, the Gülen community wonders and reads books, and they tend to ask these questions. But, it is a dream that they can create momentum in Turkey.
If we rearrange the question, must people be exposed to more injustice to seek justice, demand and reach it?
Let’s leave the Gulen Community aside; take the Republican People’s Party (CHP), voters. The CHP voter has been beaten up for years now, and will probably continue to be beaten because the party administration is still a monoblock. CHP is still squinting at the Kurdish issue and does not know what to say. It is extremely nationalist and struts of the regime in the final analysis. There are many examples of this: in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, there was a vote about the government’s mistreating to the selected people in Turkey and the damage of the legislature. The members of the CHP voted “no”. Why? Because the CHP is a state party that established the republic and identified with the state. it is not easy to have empathy and sympathy for the Kurds and all the oppressed. Doesn’t anyone at the party say that? Yes, Sezgin Tanrıkulu and a few others…
CHP and other so-called opposition, in fact, not the so-called opposition, let’s call them domestic and national opposition are more royalist than the king about what happened in the occupation of Afrin, Cyprus, the Greek island. So there’s no dynamic here. The CHP will continue to be beaten up because the government will continue to have the opportunity to exploit them in all respects with the tactic of divide and rule as long as there is no alliance between the beaten up parties.
PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATİC PARTY (HDP) IS THE ONLY REAL OPPOSITION IN TURKEY
You say the opposition cannot make a real opposition. the AKP is becoming more conservative, and you don’t see any chance of renewal or transformation in the CHP. How will the change occur? Is there a chance that those who are in favor of democracy in the CHP pass to the HDP?
Certainly. Something like that should be considered. I’m not sure how many problems the CHP has with the 2017 regime. I see that this freak regime called the Turkish presidential system has not been adequately examined by the CHP executives.
Their opposition is not to this system. As if they are dealing with the sex of the angels; “Do we put the phrase ‘T.C.’ to the Municipal Building, or not;” etc. I’m not sure that the CHP has different policies from the government. It’s just outdated secularism. As far as I see, it does not offer any policy proposal other than to replace the Kemalist infrastructure that political Islam tries to disrupt. They find their proposals adequate, but Turkey needs many more proposals. In this sense, the only real opposition in Turkey is the HDP, because they say something different; Do they all say, what is the relationship between them and the PKK? These are separate issues. There is not a formation except for the HDP when we look for a new discourse in Turkey. It is difficult for HDP to be carriers of the dynamics of Turkey, which is why Turkey is not going anywhere. It pauses.
CHP has no proposal. All offers and wishes are for returning to the past. For example, Turkey needs administrative units between municipalities and the center. In such a large country, it is not possible to manage the locals only through the municipality, but the CHP is against it. They don’t think. they’re wearing swords. They had already done it. They did it in the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission. At that time the BDP had brought it up, and the CHP was opposed to this concept such as the MHP’s opposition.
– Why the CHP can not produce policy?
The state party thinks like the state and so do the masses. Before the June 23 elections, the mood is as follows: We will vote one, we will give it to Ekrem İmamoğlu, everything will be very nice, everything will be fine ”. there’s a huge audience in Turkey living in a fairy tale that Turkey will have an early election, and İmamoğlu will be the President.
YOU CAN NOT GIVE A NAME TO THE REGIME IN TURKEY
– Why can not we give a name to the regime? Why do not they accept the problem to solve it?
You can not give a name to the regime in Turkey. The opinion leaders have a great responsibility for this issue. For example, the concept of authoritarianism, which describes every political regime that deviates more or less from democracy, is a complete example of the truism, so it is not true. There is an illusion in this approach. If the head of the authority goes away, the system will operate normally. And there is an assumption that someone who is democratic can replace the authoritarian. Not so, Erdogan is not the only man in Turkey. In Turkey, there are millions of large and small, women and men, young and old Erdogans. There is a mass of supporting this regime in Turkey. When we look at the theorists who find and develop the concept of totalitarianism, we see the emphasis on mass. Central Asian dictatorships and African dictatorships are not totalitarian. There are dictators or autocrats, oppressive regimes, forced labor. Turkey has no forced labor. People do not want to understand it. at least 50% of the society want Erdoğan wholeheartedly in Turkey with their tears from their eyes, trapped in his feet… such as Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. It’s something else; people don’t want to see them. they think the audience we’re talking about is tricked. There is also scorn: “You are fools, Erdogan is fooling you through religion”. No, it’s not. This mass is fascist and wants to stay fascist. It’s a desire. It’s a mass that kills dogs and women, so I’m talking about the possibility of civil war and coup.
– Can we say for Turkey, ‘Kemalism was planted at the beginning and’ …
We should be careful. At that time, they were minorities, Kemalists were minorities. It was a minority dynamic. Not so now.
SAVE US, EKREM!
– Then, it is a real democracy. People choose what they want.
Yeah, we could say that. The Kemalist era you were talking about was an imposed, forced period, and now there is voluntary servitude. They’re still taking votes for Erdogan in this case of Turkey.
– What’s their motivation? Religion?
Chaotic. There are religion, fraudsters, those who have self-interests and play doubles. there are also worshipers inside and outside the figure represented by Erdoğan. Like Hitler worshipers. It’s not easy to substitute.
It is also sad to think that things will change with this single person and presidents are saviors. We have experienced this in our youth, “Save us, Father!” and “Our hope is Ecevit!”. 50 years have passed, and we have the same thing “Save us, Ekrem!”. Why we came here and how to get out of here cannot be predictable
– Nature does not like gaps, have Nationalists come to the vacant of the Gulen Community? I mean, wouldn’t the AKP have been so nonsense if it was alone?
Of course. The AKP has never been alone. Since 2002, the AKP has always moved between reform and the state. Kurdish initiative and other policies were not the only things made to collect votes. There was a quest, and the party had a will to transform Turkey in the true sense. Something was broken due to the AKP’s indecision; a conservative state, and the fact that it came between reforms like Pandule. The state has two red lines; fundamentalism and separatism. When the AKP came to power, the red line of fundamentalism was lifted. It was difficult to digest, but the state absorbed it, leaving the red line of separatism.
– Can we open the state a little? What is the state?
People, bureaucracy, army; the state is not an abstract concept. The State is always in front of people in Turkey and always puts its existence in front of human life, which is called survival. In other words, even if there are no people in these lands, the state should remain, and this is the state. There are factions, mobs, parties, people who support this idea. When the community came out, a strong wing of the state came back in an alliance by saying ‘politics does not like the gap.’ Now, they are in an alliance with the rightists, leftists, Ergenekons, Eurasians, and political Islamists. There seems to be no opposition, but there are. they are the passengers of this path. Everyone is pleased with this request, one way or another. To seek the solution in this context does not take Turkey to a new social and permanent or a democratic constitution, because it is impossible to solve the Kurdish issue in this context. This could be done with the EU acceleration, but this opportunity escaped.
TURKEY WAS LEFT ALONE WITH THEIR FAKE INTERNAL DYNAMICS
– When did they give up their intention about the EU?
There are also external factors, but in fact, the AKP got bored on the way back and forth between the state and reform, but there was no pressure to return this way inside or out. the signature was there. the signature is important for Europeans. They left the EU process spontaneously, I have seen disobedience here from the beginning. The EU process has exceeded the AKP. But, other than the AKP, no one adopted the process of neither the CHP, the community, nor the Kurdish political movement. When the AKP started to fend off the process, no one came out and said “EU membership is important for this country and its people, let’s continue our way despite everything”, and the opportunity escaped. Everything has been so much harder because Turkey has been left alone with its own fake internal dynamics. Done.
– Is the ongoing relationship with NATO intimidating the West or is there a serious will that wants it to break?
They don’t know what to do because the country has no resources, no savings, no money. It’s not in a position to sustain itself. For example, Turkey is not an Iran, Iran has oil. So it shouts, criticizes, but turns and continues on its way by shutting up.
THOSE ARE LOW STANDARD PEOPLE
– Simply, you say Turkey can not break its ties with NATO.
It’s not obvious, because there’s no control due to irrationality and unlawfulness. There is no internal control mechanism, no separation between the forces, and the team is unpopular.
These problems can not be solved with those who gather around Erdoğan, or Çavuşoğlu and Albayrak. Those are low standard people.
– You said civil war, who gets out on the street?
On June 23rd, I think that the ruling party will win the election…
– Will it win the election?
I think that there will be no elections. Even if there is, there won’t be an election for four years, and this process will force the economy and foreign policy regime very much. we don’t know about how this is reflected the domestic, and how a part of the community reacts, how the regime reacts to the reaction. But there is a possibility of civil war and a coup to suppress it. In economic policies and foreign policy, the back of the regime rests on the wall, and there is no way to go. The economic crisis will bring tremendous dissatisfaction. we don’t know how hot friction will occur between those who can’t tolerate and the supporter of the regime.
-You said that the opposition and the power have not produced very different policies, and they have met briefly around the “Turkishness Convention”. There are also Turks who are absolutely uncomfortable from this situation, but they are not many. Let’s put them aside. Non-Muslims are not also many. They will cut their voices to adapt, but the Kurds are not. What about the Turkish-Kurdish relationship or friction in this process?
There are two kinds of Kurds. Although they are uncomfortable with the AKP’s repulsion of Kurdishness, Kurdish identity and culture, there is a considerable Kurdish population that supports the AKP. The Kurds have divided in half. Not all of them have a fighting attitude. The Kurds have at least one Rojava. if nothing happens to it, which seems not to be going to happen, Rojava is a hope. The civil war that I am talking about will be between the Turks and Turks, not between the Kurdish and the Turks, and I don’t know what the Kurds do in this civil war. I think they do not support any of the two conflicting Turks.
-What could be the salvation plan?
I can’t even imagine. Erdogan does not go himself he is a politician who has committed tremendous crimes. So, he will not go spontaneously or by-election, because every crime he has committed will be revealed from the moment he goes. As I said, there is a culture of impunity and irresponsibility in Turkey from the Armenian Genocide year. It may also be said to Erdoğan: ” transfer your power, we will forgive your constitutional and legal crimes that you have committed many times a day during this whole period.” However, we have nothing from this approach. This impunity has penetrated us so much that we are a society that digests so many sins easily. It is not a solution to say Erdogan to sit in his corner. what will be so many victims? It’s huge victimization. Turkey needs courts like the Nuremberg courts. there’s huge debris. The debris is institutional; all institutions have been razed. There has been also moral debris for 100 years. you can not wait for all the solutions from one man, Ekrem İmamoğlu. He’s gonna do everything. Can he turn into a superman and do something like that?
Davutoglu and Babacan have no chance. To lower the regime, the president and the parliament by dividing the AKP, finding 360 deputies, which means that the Good Party and the HDP cast the same vote, and to trigger new elections; these are dreams.
–Why don’t they resign collectively?
This is important. If HDP turns back to the nation alone, it doesn’t have any effect. They already want HDP gone. If the CHP resigned collectively, it would work, but the CHP does not even think about it. The decision-making boards do not have this discussion. they cannot even boycott.
THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REGIME, THE OPPOSITION OF THE REGIME, THE CAPITAL OF THE REGIME
-Is it important to remain a member of parliament, to receive a salary, and to be respected?
In the final analysis, yes. Demirtas called it a “democracy” game. The Parliament is the garbage of unregistered proposals. Thousands of questions are given, but not even spoken. They are ignored. everyone is satisfied with not only the salary but also the system. These are the national opposition, the CHP is so in the final analysis. The opposition of the AKP regime is like the capital of its regime. TUSİAD(The Turkish Industry and Business Association) criticizes the government, takes a sharp answer; then, it can not stand against the government as before. They had an ad in the newspaper against Ecevit, can they do it now? He makes them regret because the state is the main employer. These are the parliament of the regime, the opposition of the regime, the capital of the regime.
THEY SEE TURKEY AS THIRD WORLD COUNTRY
-How do they see Turkey abroad?
There are those who have an attitude of appeasement if they have an economic profit. They invested in the country because they thought Turkey would eventually become an EU country. It is impossible to take out the money from the country. The factories are left, so they undertake. Turkey won’t collapse like Greece or Portugal. The NATO relationship is decisive, and this is the fact that they do not want Putin to rein Turkey. Except this, they see Turkey as a third world country. For the West, both Turkey and Egypt are the same. It is the funny thing that Turkey does not know the Middle East. Its mind has been closed to the region since 1923. In 2011, although there was no information on the region, they jumped to the region. In foreign affairs, the number of people who speak Arabic does not exceed 10; now, there are probably more, even if they do not know the culture of those countries. nobody knows and cares about what happened on 6 May 1916 that Cemal Pasha executed the Arab political elite in the Damascus square. From 2009, they have emerged with a completely hollow fallacy called new Ottomanism. This was the motivation for neglecting the EU; ” what is EU? We are good on our own,” they went into the air and flew.
-How did we get here?
Political Islam, represented by the AKP, was not a movement with a strong infrastructure in itself. ıt was never a movement. The Gulen Community was the brain of political Islam. When that brain went away, there was a huge brainless body, like Frankenstein.
A great opportunity escaped on June 7, 2015. The CHP and Deniz Baykal were those that worked hard to escape the opportunity. What they did was a complete national stance. The state focused on how to get rid of a parliament full of Kurds, which was a breaking point for the country.
The 2013 Gezi Park and 17/25 December events had already been in the meantime. Erdogan was already sleepless, and at the end of 2014, the government decided to settle the Kurds. Then the State entered into the repressive spiral of today. The decision made by the SBE on 6 May is the natural result of this process. It is one of the last pillars of the continuous blow. After that, the closure of the parties may come. It’s possible, he may close them.
The election in June may not be made. Neither the economy nor the foreign policy nor the domestic public can endure this situation. He won’t go by-election, but he will go with chaos. After that chaos, what is established instead current system, what will be the size of the debris? The answers will be certain at that time-exactly, for this reason, I claim that there is a possibility of a coup. However, getting rid of Erdoğan is not a solution to Turkey ‘s being itself again. “First, we should get rid of him, and then, we see what we’ll do!”, which is not a healthy approach, because no one produces policies in this direction, even HDP. Briefly, no exit without sinking.
– Is there any loss of soil in that sinking?
Could be. Of course, it couldn’t be willingly, but yes it could be a break. It’s an old approach “give, get rid.”
-Does the longing for secular life support this rupture?
But then they will have to “clean the unwanted Muslims and Kurds from the area where they live.
Jailed cadet’s mother stands up against oppression, conquers fear
Melek Çetinkaya is the mother of a jailed 19 years-old former cadet. A campaign led by her broke the spell cast by the Erdogan regime’s reign of terror. She gets detained by police whenever she steps outside her home. However, she has no intention to remain silent.
Lives of millions in Turkey turned upside down on July 15, 2016, with the coup attempt Erdogan labeled as “a gift from God.”
Cadets, many 18-19 years of age, were among those arrested on the night of the coup bid. Çetinkaya’s 19 years old son was one of those students.
Her mom kept telling during post-coup trails that former cadets, including her son, did not involve in any illegal activities on the coup night and highlighted that they were taken to different locations at the behest of their superiors, without touching any weapon. And forensic reports confirmed her claims.
Lawyers of the Presidency were present in the courtroom when 256 former cadets were sentenced to life in prison. Çetinkaya’s son, Furkan, was one of them receiving a sentence of life imprisonment.
Melek Çetinkaya tried hard to have her voice heard on social media. She has taken her struggle a step further by staging protests in favor of jailed cadets in Ankara’s crowded streets.
Her fight also brought other mothers together. Cadets’ mothers got detained whenever they cried out for the plight of cadets sentenced to life in prison.
Çetinkaya has been taking to the streets for three months to draw public attention, and she was taken into police custody for hours in each attempt.
Çetinkaya, trying to reach out to the public through her Youtube channel, has announced her plan to start a “March for Justice” from Ankara to Istanbul.
She said she would hold the March for Justice for cadets sentenced to life in prison, jailed pregnant women, children in prison, and dismissed public servants.
March for Justice, which kicked off on January 19 in Ankara’s Guven Park, met a police intervention which saw the arrest of Çetinkaya along with 66 people.
Police encircled Guven Park and surrounded the protestors. It was a clear message saying that police would not allow a march of 450 km between Ankara and Istanbul.
Çetinkaya was detained right after stepping out of the metro, before making to Guven Park where the march would start.
“I am an aggrieved mom. You gave life sentences to 19 years-old cadets. We have been silent for three and a half years, but you will no longer be able to silence us. Justice will be served in this country,” Çetinkaya said while being dragged away by police.
Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu was among the protestors when police waded in to disperse the group. Gergerlioglu confirmed the police intervention on his twitter account, saying, “Police violently suppressed Çetinkaya’s march for justice.” He also noted that the police physically assaulted him along with other protestors.
Police held Çetinkaya in detention for hours before releasing her late in the evening. And she was detained each day when she attempted to attend the march. Police went even further by apprehending Çetinkaya right after she left her home on January 21.
Anti-Terror Police took the stage this time. Çetinkaya was taken to Ankara’s Counter-Terrorism department. She had to endure waiting for hours while facing the wall and with her hands cuffed.
Police mocked her height and questioned her about how she learned to use social media. They did not provide her with a bed or mattress, and she had to sleep on the concrete ground.
Some people recorded videos on metros and buses to raise awareness about Çetinkaya’s situation. Those who recorded videos became the target of Erdogan’s fanatics.
Erdogan publicly acknowledges giving instructions to judiciary
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the judges who acquitted a former Turkish general and, for the first time, publicly admitted that he had given instructions to the judiciary.
Turkey has seen the dismissal of more than 30,000 Turkish military personnel from the army and the detention of thousands of former soldiers since the still-controversial failed coup attempt on 15 July 2016. The imprisoned military officers have received jail times ranging between 6 years and a life sentence in prison.
While the discussions about whether Erdogan used the coup attempt to re-design the Turkish army is still going on, Erdogan admitted his instructions to the judiciary to punish Turkish soldiers.
Acquittal of Turkish general angered Erdogan
Lieutenant General Metin İyidil was detained pending trial for three years and sentenced to life in prison over his alleged involvement in the coup attempt. However, the appeal court quashed the lower court’s ruling upon İyidil’s appeal and ruled acquittal and release of İyidil.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s arguments concerning the coup attempt have grown more controversial following the acquittal of a military general.
Any attempt to question the failed coup attempt is viewed as a taboo in Turkey. Prosecutors launch investigations right away into any claim towards the questioning of the trueness of the 15 July coup. The acquittal of İyidil has rekindled discussions on the coup, and the Turkish judiciary whose impartiality is disputed has taken action soon and ordered the re-arrest of İyidil.
Erdogan made some remarks in a press conference about İyidil’s case before flying off to Berlin for a conference on Libya’s civil war.
“It is a very upsetting development for the (Turkish) judiciary, it is not (even) understandable. How could a court take such kind of action? We have given the necessary orders”, Erdogan said in the press conference.
He further noted in his statement, “How could a court acquit or release a man previously sentenced to life in prison? Thanks to efforts of the Ministry of Justice and our prosecutors, he was apprehended soon later in a joint operation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He is now in prison and has started serving his sentence”.
Problem of judicial impartiality in Turkey
Erdogan’s regime purged about 5,000 judges and prosecutors over the past three years, and some 2,500 of them were put behind bars. The two members of the country’s top court (Constitutional Court) remain in prison. Erdogan has acquired the power with the new presidential system to appoint members of Turkey’s high courts, such as the Constitutional Court, the Court of Cassation, and Conseil d’Etat.
No access to basic rights for decree-law victims
A sizeable number of Turkish citizens do not have access to fundamental rights. Erdogan regime labels them in three letters: “KHK,” which is the Turkish abbreviation for decrees that have the force of law enacted by emergency powers, also known as decree-laws.
The social security numbers of these people are flagged with certain numbers for all employers and institutions to recognize that they are blacklisted by the government.
They are barred from civil service, they are not permitted to have a passport, banks do not give loans them, in some cases they don’t even open accounts, and it is near-impossible for these people to find a job in the private sector.
Thousands of these people, most of whom are college graduates, are in prison.
Many decree-laws were issued after the state of emergency that was declared after the controversial July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. KHK is the abbreviation for Decree-Laws.
With these so-called temporary measures, about 150 thousand public employees were dismissed. The majority of them are Gulen Movement affiliates. Some of them are pro-Kurdish and leftist activists.
The government defends the dismissal of thousands of people, pointing at the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin defends the actions of the Erdogan administration with the following words; “after the merger, 500 thousand public employees in East Germany were dismissed.” However, in Germany, these people were paid compensation and benefited from the welfare state rights.
In Turkey, on the other hand, health insurance and social assistance card that is called “green card” is not given to the people dismissed by decree-laws. One hundred fifty thousand people dismissed by decree-laws were not paid compensation too.
Even withdrawing money from banks is a problem
Teacher Suzan Uzpak’s brother sent money to her from abroad. The bank officer said that she couldn’t pay the amount that was sent by a Vakıfbank transaction. Uzpak was told that it was due to her dismissal by a decree-law. “The system gave a ‘banned’ warning, and similar occasions occurred previously too,” bank officials said.
Another victim of the decree-laws announced on Twitter that Garanti Bank resisted not to open a bank account on his name. Upon public pressure, Garanti Bank had to backtrack. However, the memo sent by the bank read, “We are just opening an account; you do not have the right to use loans, EFT, wire transfer, and internet banking.” The Spanish BBVA owns Garanti Bank. This practice became the subject of a heated debate in Turkey as many questioned the possibility of such demands being made by a bank operating in an EU member country elsewhere in Europe.
Insurance Company did not make the due payment
What H.B. experienced is more striking. His wife had a car accident. Doğa Insurance did not pay the 20,000 Liras damage citing the ownership of the vehicle, for it belonged to a person dismissed by a decree-law.
In Turkey, the banks and insurance companies are monitored by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Board (BDDK), which regulates the financial sector. Board sent an official letter and a blacklist to banks warning them not to make any transaction for the people dismissed by decree-laws.
Social services denied
Teachers make up the majority of people dismissed by decree-laws; almost all of them are university graduates and well-educated people. However, they cannot find jobs due to the decree-law codes that appear on their social security records. Teacher Cemil Özen is one of them. He says they were left to starvation for three years. His application for the Green Card that is obtainable for the poorest group of people in Turkey was rejected because he was one of the people dismissed by a decree-law.
Leaving the country is also forbidden
People dismissed by decree-laws are sentenced to civil death in Turkey, and they are likewise not allowed to go abroad. Seher Kılıç, one of the most qualified people who could find work abroad, tells her experiences as follows: “I haven’t been able to get a passport for three and a half years. I asked why I couldn’t obtain a passport with an application letter. They said there is annotation next to my identity number ‘Banned, Passport cannot be given.’ My credit cards were canceled, I can’t get new ones. I have problems withdrawing the money sent by my family who lives in abroad.”
Mehmet Alkan, who was expelled from the Turkish Armed Forces, is a graduate of the Faculty of Law. However, he cannot work because his lawyer’s certificate has been canceled: Being one of a decree-law dismissed people means you are socially banned. You have no rights at all.”
Ayşe Düzkan, the interim editor of the Özgür Gündem daily which was shut down through a decree-law, tells about the actions of the HSCB, an international bank: “After I got out of prison, HSCB didn’t want to provide service to me. No calls were made to notify me. One day I couldn’t withdraw money from the ATM. I called the bank and found out that they blocked my accounts. I got my money from the office, and my cards were canceled.”
Working for private companies is no option
The reason why thousands of people who were dismissed by decree-laws such as doctors, teachers, police, and engineers cannot find a career in the private sector is the “Banned” annotation that appears next to their social security numbers. Authorities issue separate codes for those who were dismissed from the civil service, those who graduated from schools that were shut down by decree-laws or who are subscribed to newspapers that were shut down similarly.
For instance, some people have the annotation “36” inscribed next to their social security number. When they apply for a job, employers who do not want to draw the ire of the government or tax officers see that annotation and do not employ them.
Thousands of well-educated citizens of Turkey, they can neither go abroad because of travel bans nor find a job in Turkey. Some of these people, who are exposed to civil death, lost their lives while attempting to flee Turkey illegally.
English teacher Uğur Abdurrezzak and his wife Ayşe Abdurezzak, a Turkish-language teacher, were among them. They were both dismissed by a decree-law over their affiliations with the Gulen Movement. The whole family perished along with their children, eleven, and three years old. Their boat capsized as they tried to cross the border with Greece through the Maritza river.
The people dismissed by decree-laws in Turkey established a Youtube channel called KHKTV, as they try to have their voice heard. The decree-law platforms, which they founded in various provinces, are constantly under pressure from the government, and the authorities frequently ban the meetings they want to hold.