Fact and fabrication

Perhaps against my better judgement, I’ve come back for another helping of the extraordinary fiasco that is the Sledgehammer case.

I’ve written about the issue before in detail on this blog (see also a lengthy response to a comment). You can see the recent piece I wrote for the Christian Science Monitor here.
The headline – “Turkey’s military defanged: Is it good for democracy?” is somewhat unfortunate, as few people doubt this, and the article was not raising that question.
It was rather looking at the implications of the obvious and possibly wholesale fabrication of evidence in Sledgehammer, a issue I believe is of great significance and has been wholly ignored by the Turkish press, and- less understandably- by the international press.
The problems of the case are not just of significance for the 195 people on trial, but the apparent scale and blatantness of them reveals the extent of the corruption across Turkey’s police and judicial system.
Perhaps more worryingly, the press is largely unwilling to discuss and expose these problems, either through fear or indifference.
Milliyet columnist Asli Aydintasbas said something particularly memorable and disturbing:

“It’s sad that we now have a media environment in which no one wants to touch this stuff,” says Ms. Aydintasbas. “I don’t want to touch it anymore, because who knows that I won’t be included in the next roundup?”

She also hit the nail on the head, in my opinion, when she said:

“This is not about whether you’re pro-military or antimilitary, it’s about the rule of law. Do we want to live in a country where political opponents are eliminated by trials that are unconvincing?”

She gave an illuminating analysis, which did not make its way into the story, of how to understand the power shift from military to civilian authority that Turkey has been undergoing over recent years, describing it as a ‘slow motion revolution’.

Many commentators describe it instead as an inevitable, though fitful, march towards European-style democracy.

But I like Aydintasbas’ ‘revolution’ comparison better, because it shows up the risks of the process. As we all know, revolutions often start out well, and end badly.

It may well be, as some people argue, that the extraordinary economic progress Turkey has made over recent years has strengthened and deepened civil society enough to secure a bright future.

However it may also be the case that the now-finished power struggle between the AKP and the military has merely opened a temporary window of opportunity for civil society to assert itself.

Either way, Turkey’s civil society is ill-served by turning a blind eye to the massive dysfunctionality that has long made Turkey’s courts and police a crude weapon of the establishment with which to bludgeon supposed enemies of the state.


One thought on “Fact and fabrication

  1. The “blindness” by J.Saremago, the Nobel winner.. The press, NGO's, authors all act as if they are going blind. Nevertheless, millions are aware of this intentional(malice?)blindness and find it disgusting.. The blind side of community will soon forget about all, however, the same is not true for millions who are aware of all.. Thanks, for such truthful journalism, in the planet of apes…

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