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Everyone May Need Justice

Everyone May Need Justice

Turkey is a sui generis country. Can there be another country where black and white might be so close to or even substitute each other? What appears to be illegal or the number one public enemy today might become totally legitimate and even a glorified asset tomorrow.

A top commander being condemned as a “chieftain of a terrorist gang” and sent behind iron bars cannot be something that might be easily acceptable in Turkey. It was indeed abnormal for the “cashier” or “financier” of the Turkish nationalist “Ergenekon” terrorist gang, a putschist establishment alleged to have aimed to bring down by force the constitutional government of the country, to pass away with no money in his pocket or with his family and laid to rest by a municipality.

Lieut. Col. Ali Tatar committed suicide, leaving behind a note that as an honorable Turkish officer he could not accept to be sent to prison again. He had lost faith in the Turkish judiciary. Türkan Saylan, the chairperson of the Association for the Protection of Contemporary Life, years ago did not utter a word against the early morning ambush of her residence by officious police officers acting on the orders of a prosecutor. She was at a very advanced stage of cancer and unfortunately was on her deathbed when her house was ambushed. She just sent a loud “be silent” sign to people protesting the insolence. Cumhuriyet newspaper’s publisher İlhan Selçuk, whose house was ambushed likewise, had “escaped” imprisonment because of his old age. Such great people lost their lives in the unfortunate ordeal.

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Hundreds of people were interrogated, detained, and banished behind bars. Hundreds of senior officers and generals of the Turkish military were expelled from active duty and had to face incredible allegations while a top minister of the time boasted that “Turkey is cleansing itself.”

A prosecutor has given a brilliant explanation of what was experienced during those years. “The Ergenekon trial was a dustbin that FETÖ threw its dirty laundry into and used to disperse all suspicions over itself,” the prosecutor said. What does this mean? A gang created an imaginary gang in order to disperse suspicions looming over it and put the blame of everything on it. Interesting… I would not describe it as such, though all through those years I am afraid many people, including this writer, were stressing that Ergenekon was not a judicial probe but just a thriller.

While the many actual prosecutors of the case were long accused of being members of FETÖ and either arrested or fled the country, the latest prosecutor, in presenting the prosecution’s last official opinion on the case, said there was indeed no such gang.

“It has been found that the leadership, membership and criminal activity could not be established of the organization, as well as its existence,” the prosecutors said of the “armed terrorist organization Ergenekon.” Therefore, if there was “no concrete evidence” that there was ever an Ergenekon terrorist organization, it was obvious that a non-existent terrorist organization can neither have managers, members, or supporters. If there was no gang, no officer, members or supporters, no one, of course, might have committed the crimes for the gang…

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There are always two sides to every coin. The state will now pay hefty compensations to those who have suffered because of the fictional Ergenekon. The same end will come for other, equally creative thrillers of the post-2012 Turkey. On the other hand, of course, there have always been putschist groupings in the Turkish military, as well as in the establishment, and in civilian politics. Everyone acquitted in the Ergenekon case so far and those who had accusations against them now might not be innocent at all. Yet, as we were stressing all along, everyone must be given the benefit of the doubt, considered innocent until proven guilty by a court. After all, everyone might need justice one day.

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About The Author

Yusuf Kanli

Born in Cyprus in 1959, Yusuf Kanlı is a graduate of the English Language and Literature Department of the Faculty of Letters of the Ankara University. He started journalism with the Turkish Daily News in 1978. Until he briefly left the paper in 1985 (for military service in Northern Cyprus) he served as diplomatic correspondent, assistant foreign news editor and assistant editor. During this period he was as well one of the two co-authors of an annual reference book on Turkey, “Turkey Almanac”. After completing his military service he returned the Daily News as assistant editor. In 1989 he became executive editor and also started writing daily opinion articles. He continued to be one of the co-authors of the “Turkey Almanac” annual reference book. In February 1993, over differences with the publisher on editorial policy, he quit the paper and joined the Anatolia News Agency (AA) as deputy foreign news chief. He stayed with the Anatolia News Agency until September 1995. In this period, he covered the Armenia-Azerbaijan war over Nogorno-Karabagh, covered developments in the post-independence Central Asian republics. Because of his refusal as the duty editor to run a manipulated news story demanded by the then lady prime minister of the country, he was fired from the AA, a development that Kanlı considers as his “medal of honor” in the profession. On his return to the Daily News for a third time in October 1995, he first became an editor at large but soon assumed the responsibility of electronic publishing and established Turkey’s first daily updated English language news web site, the TDN Online on May 19, 1996 (now In January 1997, he became executive editor of the Daily News for a second time and stayed in that post until he was appointed as editor-in-chief in June 2004. In February 2007, he quit all executive duties and became a contract columnist of the newspaper. He has been also writing weekly articles in Turkish for a variety of newspapers and news portals in Northern Cyprus. He is a former chairperson and the honorary chairperson of Diplomacy Correspondents Association (DMD) of Turkey, an active member of Association of Foreign Policy Council, a member of the executive board and vice chairperson of the Association of Journalists and coordinator of the Press for Freedom project, which has been monitoring and reporting on press and freedom of expression issues in Turkey since 2013. He has been a member of several associations and foundations, mostly established by Turkish Cypriots living in Turkey or abroad. He is married to Dr. Aydan Kanlı and has one daughter, Cansu. He has Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Cypriot triple nationality.

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