Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Submitted by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan, from Istanbul

Update from Turkey 25-06-13:

The use of excessive force had drawn reaction from all around the world, to which PM Erdogan had said “The police officers responsible will get their due punishments if they have gone beyond their duties and orders.” Hearing this statement and still very suspicious whether the government was to be trusted or not – as the very same government had promised not to do any of what has been unleashed onto the people –, millions of people started waiting for the investigations. The initial result of the investigations revealed that there was only one police officer who used excessive force, but his name would not be released. The great discontent after this grew much greater after the court decisions of the last few days.

Recently a court case was closed against four military officers who had raped a 13-year-old girl. They received no punishment; the court ruled that “the 13-year-old girl was willing to have intercourse with four men.” Anger against the justice system was triggered with this decision and thousands joined in protests to call for officials to actually abide by the law and serve justice. While during weekend the rape case was still hot, a new day came with a court decision to free the police officer who shot and killed Ethem Sarisuluk. Whereas Ethem’s killer was released, a boy who threw a stone at a policeman in Mersin was given a 92-year prison sentence for “attacking the State” just days ago.

Ethem was shot directly in the head by a police bullet. The court did not care to look for evidence, yet video footage shows how he was killed, and witnesses have described it. The policeman’s statement was “I was being attacked by protesters, they got my armor, my helmet and my baton. I was scared and whatever I did was in self-protection against thte disproportionate violence of protesters.” Hearing these words and considering that the PM had already stated his full support for the police forces, the judges decided to release the policeman on grounds of self-defense.

It is now important to remember what has changed since Erdogan stated that there would be investigations and that those responsible would get their punishment: Thousands of policemen across the country started falling into unrest, and the opinion of a majority of them could be generalized in one sentence: “If you punish us for applying the orders you gave –orders that came with the threat of losing our jobs if we didn’t obey –, then we will join with the protesters.”

The protest of the police forces deepened the police-state attitude of the government, thus leading to even harsher handling of protests and protection of police forces. On Monday, during the graduation ceremony at the police academy, Erdogan gave a speech and addressed the “heroes of our times.” He glorified every police action and defended them against criticisms. Fearing the reaction of 250,000 police in country-wide protests and having to use the military to suppress these protests, Erdogan went so far as to say “my police have written a legend recently, it has epic value. You are the heroes of this country. I will not let anyone touch my police.” The Mayor of Ankara also sent banners saying “We are thankful to our police forces for everything” to the scene where Ethem was killed, glorifying the violence.

The policemen, seeing how they are already protected by the government and will not be punished for any unlawful act they carry out, have already been terrorizing the streets by applying arbitrary violence or unnecessary tension through shows of force, such as directing their rifles at people, asking for ID cards on streets, randomly grabbing people’s bags/purses and checking inside, taking those who protest such actions to police headquarters, etc.

This morning, there were dawn raids against 30 homes. People who participated in the Gezi protests were detained on the grounds of “supporting terrorist activities.” The definition of terrorism seems to have been broadened in Turkey recently… While the state TV TRT has become the government’s propaganda machine, the Mayor of Ankara, Gökcek – infamous for his threats against journalists and hate speech directed at them – stated that CHP (the main opposition party) should be closed down for the sake of democracy, as CHP was a “terrorist” party for supporting the protests. Gökcek continued to state “This is all a global Communist conspiracy to topple AKP, they are supported by England, Germany, Russia, Iran, all around the world; all the world is against AKP and conservatives and democrats.”

It is also important to remember that justice only serves the government when needed and that non-AKP civilians cannot seek it. Whenever there is any kind of criticism towards the government, either the PM himself or another official from the party declares “I have given orders to my judges, they will handle this.” Or each time someone criticizes the Mayor of Ankara, he gets sued. And it’s also important to note PM Erdogan’s remarks about two months ago: “Seeing the support of the popular will, the vote share of 50% that we received, the law should know its place and bow to the national will.” Seeing that there is also now a powerful brake on appeals to the European Court of Human Rights – a major court at the top level slows down the process of using all possible judicial steps in the country –, there is great arrogance from a government that feels it is untouchable by the people.

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