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Voices in Exile: Uncovering Injustice and the Struggle for Truth in Erdogan’s Turkey

Despite being in Washington DC for about ten years, almost all of my time is spent following the Turkish agenda, especially the trials related to July 15th, among other current legal proceedings. Under normal circumstances, I should be covering what’s happening in America, but since Erdoğan has destroyed the media in Turkey, there’s no one to follow up on and report even the fundamental issues. If it weren’t for a handful of exiled journalists, Turkey would literally turn into North Korea.

From afar, I’ve been tracking the unlawful acts of the Erdoğan regime, focusing on the July 15th files, and addressing them both on TR724 and on my personal YouTube channel. I’ve worked on countless files to date.

For instance, my article titled “How did 240 out of 358 Generals become affiliated with the Gülen Movement?” clearly depicts the situation regarding the coup trials. I’ve documented how accusations leading to the expulsion and arrest of so many generals are solely based on profiling. There’s no actual crime. The files merely contain allegations like ‘there are reports of Gülenist affiliation.’

This is evident from my report on martial law directives, which includes statements from those who conducted the profiling, admitting they had no concrete evidence. So, the files are empty. The accusations are baseless. In current trials, what you’ve done doesn’t matter. The only criterion is the profiling against you.

This is not only about the military; all trials against the Gülen movement are like this. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been ruined with indictments prepared based solely on profiling.

Let’s not go too far; I know from my own experience.

I came to Washington in 2014 as the correspondent for Bugün Newspaper, transferring from the Ankara office. My assignment was announced, and I said goodbye to everyone. Some of my friends from the AKP even threw me a farewell dinner, one of whom later came to Washington as an ambassador.

Then, the infamous July 15th coup attempt happened.

Suddenly, I became a ‘terrorist.’ I saw an indictment signed by prosecutor Gökalp Kökçü (recently demoted for disgraceful acts), which included a section about me, barely a line and a half long.

They couldn’t even spell my name or the title of my book correctly. Yet, they were seeking a life sentence. All the government and so-called opposition media were writing that I “fled to the US after July 15th.” However, I had arrived two years before July 15th via Turkish Airlines.

For the first two years, I worked as a correspondent for Bugün Newspaper and Özgür Düşünce in Washington DC. I covered programs at the embassy and even provided my address to the embassy myself. I was always in plain sight; I even voted at the embassy in the last presidential election. It’s that simple.

But according to the government media and prosecutors, I am a fugitive sought with a red notice. I’ve been saying for years; I am ready to be tried anywhere in the world with this indictment. One day, I will confront those who made these accusations in court.

I’m sharing these details because all Gülen movement and July 15th trials are like this. Ridiculous indictments, fabricated charges, and sham trials. Not even in Russia, let alone civilized countries, would such trials take place. All cases taken to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) return with ‘violation’ verdicts, and Turkey is convicted.

However, even the regime courts established by Erdoğan’s hand are issuing acquittals and releases because the files are truly ludicrous. For example, let’s look at the recent controversy.

The decision by the 5th Chamber of the Council of State to reinstate 450 judges and prosecutors caused a major uproar. Initially, Erdoğan’s family newspaper Sabah and those Hilal Kaplan calls ‘Noah’s Dogs’ at Odatv blasted the news as a ‘scandal.’ As always, they spread lies and manipulation.

There wasn’t a mass reinstatement of 450 judges and prosecutors at once. This number represents the total reinstated over eight years. But as usual, they resort to deceit and spread false news.

People like Nedim Şener and Cihat Yaycı, who admire Ergenekon, collectively labeled these reinstatements as ‘treason.’ We will continue, but let’s note this: so-called journalists who define a court decision as ‘treason’ or ‘scandal’ and say ‘it shouldn’t be applied’ are actually disregarding a judicial decision.

Those who have been saying ‘clear your name in court and come back’ for years are now refusing to accept a court’s decision. The sad part is, these individuals have been parading as ‘journalists’ on TV for years. President Erdoğan made the most remarkable statement on this issue.

After 11 years of slandering the President of Egypt, Sisi, with every insult imaginable, Erdoğan went to him at Sisi’s insistent invitation, or so he claimed on the return flight, accompanied by a plane full of journalists.

This article’s focus is different, but let’s note this: not even the most famous journalist (!) dared to ask the most basic question that even a trainee reporter would: “We went to the ‘Dishonorable!’ United Arab Emirates, and now we’re going to Sisi, whom you’ve called ‘Murderer, tyrant, coup plotter!’ What has changed?”

Moreover, Erdoğan blatantly lied to their faces, saying, “We came at Sisi’s persistent invitation!” In reality, Erdoğan himself sought mediators for reconciliation. Sisi had given a 12-point ‘to-do list’ two years prior, saying, “Do these, then come.”

Erdoğan went to meet Sisi in Egypt after expelling the Muslim Brotherhood from Turkey at Sisi’s request. On that return trip, he made the following scandalous statement: “We cannot remain silent about this decision by the Council of State. Just as we do not stay silent about some strange decisions by the Constitutional Court as part of the People’s Alliance, we will not stay silent about this either. Moreover, I cannot digest the decisions made by the Constitutional Court. The Council of State sometimes does this, disturbing us with such decisions, but the frequent decisions by the Constitutional Court seriously bother us. For example, the Constitutional Court also made a decision regarding the Information and Communication Technologies Authority. Where do you even start with that? How can such a decision be made? We will continue to delve into this matter. We will also follow up on this in the Council of State in the same manner.”

Given its importance, I’ve quoted the statement verbatim. These lines are historically significant, proving the characteristic of the Erdoğan regime and the logic behind the ongoing genocide in Turkey in its simplest form.

Imagine; Erdoğan finds the decisions of the country’s two highest judicial bodies ‘unacceptable.’ Essentially, he’s saying, “What court, I’ve decided.”

Moreover, he has designed both the Constitutional Court and the Council of State himself. Consequently, the files concerning the accused are so empty and ridiculous that even the regime’s puppet courts have to acquit them. If the palace were to remove its hand from the judiciary, all charges would collapse.

I can provide countless examples to demonstrate the absurdity of these files. For instance, lawyer Hatice Yıldız shared on social media about a client who was reinstated to service. The complaint that led to the judge’s suspension and trial was from an employee who claimed ‘the judge made them work too hard’!

Yes, you read that correctly. A judge was suspended and tried over such a complaint.

Even the regime courts had to issue reinstatements. It turns out, Yıldız’s client was lucky. Thousands of people, whose charges were clearly proven without a doubt, could not escape prison sentences; for example, the military cadets.

Despite the Air Force’s own report confirming they did not use weapons and were brought there on orders, they received life sentences.

For instance, Gen. Akın Öztürk. He was declared the mastermind of the coup while sitting at home in his pajamas. He underwent severe torture. The General Staff’s first official statement after July 15th stated that Öztürk went to Akıncı Base on the orders of the then Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar and the Air Force Commander Abidin Ünal. However, this statement was later deleted, and Akın Öztürk is still accused of being the coup’s mastermind.

As I said, not just in a civilized country, but even in countries with second-class democracies, today’s trials would be dismissed outright. Therefore, the only criticism of the Council of State’s 450 reinstatement decisions over eight years is that they are too few and too late!

The opposition also failed in this debate. Well, if you ask whether there’s any opposition in the country, you’d be right to question. Both the government and the opposition have been saying for years, “Clear your name in court and come back!”

So, what have these people done?

Despite the genocidal practices, they patiently and persistently followed legal processes without deviating from the law. They are acquitted even in the regime’s own courts but either cannot return or, if they do, are lynched as in this case.

They are acquitted in your courts but you dislike the verdict!

The ECHR makes a decision, but you don’t comply. You lynch them every day in the media, which you control directly or indirectly, without even giving them a right to reply.

So, what should these people do?

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Adem Yavuz Arslan
Adem Yavuz Arslan
Adem Yavuz Aslan is a leading Turkish investigative journalist in exile based in Washington, D.C.
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