Turkey: Mud and Millions in Shoe Boxes
Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan
Turkish political culture may have never known a very clear, ethical or sophisticated atmosphere, yet it has never ceased to be entertaining. That is, if you are not among those who suffer the consequences of all the political turmoil and scandals that govern the daily lives of even the most ordinary citizens… The most recent entertainment in the political scene in the country has been a huge scandal involving AKP ministers, their sons, mayors, government officials, bureaucrats, businesspeople, investors and brokers. A bribery and corruption scandal has revealed that all the people listed above have been interconnected in what appears to be the biggest corruption in history, with the numbers to far topping around $100 billion.
Between the OccupyGezi protests and the graft probe, millions of people were resentful towards the police-state tactics and gulag-like structures that are dominating the streets, creating new enemies within the society to legitimize certain actions and police presence. Among all this, seeing these publicly frowned-upon figures being detained gave a kind of revealing feeling to many people, quickly followed by the shock of seeing shoe boxes full of millions of euros, dollars, and lire, as well as money-counting machines in the homes of the people affected by the probe.
Even as the fanatical supporters of AKP chose not to believe the scandal and define it as a set-up, an international conspiracy, a combined play by Israel and the Gulenist movement that is operating in Turkey, the scandal continued to get bigger and more obvious. As detentions stemming from the were made, the penguin media of Turkey again continued with its glorification of the “silence is golden” attitude, and many mainstream newspapers – being owned by pro-government businesspeople or people in the government – wrote about the “conspiracies,” pointing fingers at critical media for revealing the bribes and scandal.
As a broadcast ban was issued by the state, millions of people were getting their news from social-media accounts by the journalists who work for serious newspapers, as well as several new whistleblower news portals. Interestingly enough, a censorship movement began to extend the broadcast ban to all media platforms, and thus the media institutions that do not follow the directives of the government were blocked from access. Already a week earlier the Prime Minister had accused (whistleblower) journalists of “treason to the fatherland,” and this week there was a court decision at their doorstep to shut them up, in contempt of citizens’ right to acquire information – which in this case would benefit the citizens dearly, as they will be the ones to pay back all the corrupted amounts in the years to come!
When several news portals did not stop publishing news about the detentions, court cases of ministers’ sons, and arrests being made, DDoS attacks on their servers were organized, resulting in illegal blockage of access to news sources. Fortunately the Twitter accounts of the journalists were still up and all the news was being shared – as well as news about the censorship itself – in real time.
While the majority of the hashtags on the trending-topics list were about the graft probe and the shaming of those who are being accused, at certain times it was possible to see manipulation of hashtags, as pro-government hashtags kept coming up and dropping into the lists all night. The majority of pro-AKP tweets focus on how this is a dirty plot to frame ministers, businesspeople, important people in Turkey in a “disgusting play” just at the time when “Turkey is about to start a space program!” This unrealistic defense of corruption began as a way of holding onto power, yet it also reveals a very important truth…
Many people, including the ministers, keep asking why this probe has been unleashed just now. That is the question occupying many minds. Of course if there is to be an operation, there needs to be a time of preparation. However, if this probe is going as deep as the last whole decade, it means that a lot of the material in the dossiers have been present for a long time without any action being taken. Either the partners in corruption have been having a fight and one side is trying to win over the other, or this has turned into an internal coup within an unholy alliance where the ultimate war of two camps will leave us all in mud for a long time.
Lastly, it might be worth mentioning that the police chiefs, directors, and managers that have been fired are now replaced by people who have an even tougher attitude. If any Gezi Park protester is glad to see that the former chief of police is now gone, it might be bad news that the new chief has dreams about the park beyond a shopping mall. Alas, at the end of the day it is not international law or human rights standards that govern this quest for justice, but the urge to destroy a former ally or to avenge a big wound. Hopefully the people will question those whom they elect and vote for, and take more time to think about whom to vote for in the next elections.
More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com
More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/
Photo by Ceyhun (Jay) Isik released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.