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New phase for Turkish repressions?

AUTOCRATIC rule is characterized by several properties. More central is the strategic creation of a common enemy for distracting people’s attention from pertinent problems and register their sympathy and eventual support in dealing with that perceived enemy. To dictators, so to say, goals simply justify the means.

This is how the people of Turkey were driven to rally behind their President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his protracted fight against perceived perpetrators of the July15, 2016 coup that left 250 people dead. Branded terrorists, the people behind the coup, have all along, been identified as U.S.-exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet Movement, in particular, plus members of PKK (pro-Kurdish) party.

There is a general saying that you can cheat people but not all people all the time. And in Africa we say: “When you tell a lie, it does not take long to dawn.” In other circles they say: “Lies have short legs.” Now, the daylight has dawned on the lie of Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party. An ally of Erdogan has confirmed to the world that Gulen and the Hizmet Movement had not hand, whatsoever, in the orchestrated coup.

The purpose of this article is not to dig into the rubble. It is to go beyond what is now available on stage. The curtain has definitely fallen on the Gulen and Hizmet scene. But the Erdogan and AKP goal of the lie is still unmet. So, who would now constitute the new national enemy number one to be dealt with while keeping the people within close check? One component under the new ploy, the PKK, is there. Where does one locate the new Gulen and Hizmet members substitute?

How about the coup aspect, which we now know for certain was something crafted? This time round, what do we read behind or beyond the stage? In the place of the coup, Turkish soldiers have discovered 13 bodies during an operation in North Iraq. The world is told all but one had head gun shots. Initially, the government calls them Turkish civilian hostages. Then we learn later they included intelligence service, soldiers and police officers. This is after identification. Could they have been kept in uniforms? Some of them are said to have been held captive for about five years. Out of the thirteen how much remains of the civilian story?

This brings to light observations made by Dr. Jon Pahl during a well-attended discussion held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, about his book titled: “Fethullah Gulen – Why a Muslim Scholar in Pennsylvania matters to the world. A Life of Hizmet.” Dr. Pahl expressed what he called Erdogan’s regime disregard to even God’s “Thou shalt not lie” seventh commandment recorded in the scriptures.

If the North Iraq incident was an operation, which it was indeed, it must have been planned – the quality and, therefore, the outcome notwithstanding. Turkey did know where these hostages were kept in a cave. And it knew who they were by name and official status. After all, President Erdogan is on record for having told visiting Iraq Prime Minister of his dissatisfaction over how Iraq was dilly dallying about dealing with PKK militants and warning that he would eventually take over the responsibility in Iraq and Syria.

Of course the world is at liberty to sort out the North Iraq operation puzzle. While Turkey says the hostages were murdered, PKK accepts the responsibility of holding them but claims that their deaths were caused by Turkey air raids on the site.  

The U.S. administration of today is different from that of Trump when it comes to knowledge about Erdogan. Many officials, including President Joe Bidden himself, know him like the “Our Father” prayer. This is why a State Department statement said: “If reports of the death of Turkish civilians at the hands of PKK are confirmed, we condemn the action in the strongest terms.” They know that within an Erdogan statement there is always an unknown element.

Perturbed by this implication, Turkish Foreign Minister summoned the U.S. Ambassador to Ankara. Angered President Erdogan was quoted as accusing U.S. of supporting Kurdish enemy operations in Syria and Iraq.  “The U.S. has given them weapons and they have fought against us. If we are going to be together in NATO, you will side with us, not terrorists.”

Providence apart, with a narrow margin of error, one can conclude that if it were not for the air strikes, the hostages could not have lost their lives –the mode notwithstanding. Their PKK captors had lived with them for quite a long while.

Now, the thing is: “Was the operation necessary?”. Definitely not. Even one of the victims is on record for having communicated with family members suggesting negotiations with PKK. The Head of Turkish Human Rights Association confirmed to have been in touch with the families of ten hostages since 2015. According to him, Turkish security services have been adamant on military operation.  Couldn’t this be the eventuality?

Could this be one of the reasons why President Erdogan burst into anger? Members of HDP and human rights association have in the past offered to mediate with PKK and secure release of the hostages. Now they are dead. This paves a clear path for HDP to become the natural replacement of the Hizmet movement just is its leader is as good for Gulen. It is not surprising that the Interior Ministry has filed requests to lift parliamentary immunity on nine pro-Kurdish deputies, including a co-chair, over alleged role in a series of street protests back to 2014.

About two months ago the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s office prepared an indictment on 108 HDP members hinged on crimes the likes of first degree murders, attempted murder, robbery, incitement to violence and violating the integrity of the state.


These included co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, currently in jail despite orders for his release from Turkish and the European Court for Human Rights courts. The irony of it all is that Demirtas faces sentence of up to about one-and-half centuries (142 years). Some years he would have to serve after his life here on earth!

Among the latest indicators of the Erdogan’s regime resolve to turn to HDP network as a substitute for Gulen and Hizmet in the repression programme of different opinion in Turkey is better exhibited by what former mayor of Hakkari Province had to say. She claimed in court that she was beaten by prison guards and subjected to strip searches during her transfer from Ankara to Van Prison for the hearing of her case. All this is happening in the background of her removal from office and being replaced by pro-government appointees and then arrested and sent to jail where she has been waiting since for trial.

Will the world now agree to be taken for the second ride after Erdogan’s falsified Gulen and Hizmet story when corruption  is.the Turkey’s problem?

Civil society groups founded by people like Kavala face closure while public tenders worth U.S. $ 2.9 million go to AKP- linked companies.

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Felix Kaiza is a Tanzanian journalist with more than 50 years of experience currently working as an independent media consultant. Learned in agriculture, journalism, political science and international relations, his main fields of consultancy, besides the media, are good governance, nature conservation, tourism and investment. He was the first Tanzanian Chief Sub-Editor of an English daily newspaper in 1970, he has been behind the establishment and growth of the national independent media since the early 1990s. He is UNFAO Fellow Journalist since 1975 and has wide experience on regional integration. He worked on the Information Directorate of the original East African Community on whose ashes survive the current one. His ambition is to brand Tanzania in the inbound market with made-in-Tanzania brands, including information, almost all of which is currently foreign brewed.

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