News / Europe

    Unease Grows Over Trial of Alleged Turkish Coup Plotters

    Security forces use water cannons to disperse protesters outside a courthouse in Silivri, where a hearing on people charged with attempting to overthrow Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government is due to take place, Apr. 8, 2013.
    Security forces use water cannons to disperse protesters outside a courthouse in Silivri, where a hearing on people charged with attempting to overthrow Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government is due to take place, Apr. 8, 2013.
    Dorian Jones
    The trial involving an alleged conspiracy by the Turkish military to overthrow the government is coming under increasing criticism both inside Turkey and internationally. The landmark trial was heralded as part of the government’s efforts to bring the army under civilian control. But, concern has grown as the case has implicated a wider array of government critics.
     
    Earlier this month, police used water cannon and gas to disperse thousands of protesters who had gathered outside the courthouse in the Silivri Prison just outside Istanbul, where alleged participants in the so-called Ergenekon conspiracy are being tried.

    When the Ergenekon trial started, it was widely seen as an historic moment, with senior members of Turkey's staunchly pro-secular army on trial for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Islamic rooted government. But five years on, prosecutors have cast their net far beyond the army, indicting 275 people, including members of parliament, journalists and academics.

    Bedri Baykam, a member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party who has campaigned against the trial, says it is now out of control.
     
    "There is no concrete whatsoever evidence, proof shown against them, and still they have been cut off from their families, businesses, their jobs, for five-six years in the most productive part of their lives - their forties and fifties. How much is going on there in 2013 and the world has chosen to play the three monkeys - haven’t heard, haven’t seen and don’t want to talk," said Baykam.

    The international community is starting to voice concern. The U.S. State Department’s annual human rights report cited the prolonged pretrial detention of many of the defendants. The New York-based group Human Rights Watch also criticized the case, saying there are serious concerns over the fairness of the trial.

    Lale Kemal, a political columnist for the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman, acknowledges the need to address the lengthy pretrial detentions. But he says the Ergenekon trial is nonetheless playing an important role in democratizing Turkey, by calling to account anti-democratic forces known as the “deep state.”

    "We should be settling our scores with the illegal deep state elements of this country if we really want stability [and] democracy," sais Kemal. "It’s the core duty of any parliament or civilian authority or government to end the military’s interference in Turkish politics."
     
    Since 1960, the Turkish army has had a tradition of meddling in politics, having forced from power four elected governments. Kadri Gursel, a political columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, says while the trial’s original objectives were commendable, it has become a missed opportunity for the country.  

    "There have been some clandestine groups trying to invoke the ideas of a coup d'etat," said Gursel. "But it has been turned into an ideological prosecution, persecution, including all kinds of people with a common denomination of being opposed to the government. Now, the justice system has emerged from this trial as a deeply politicized, biased justice. One cannot build democracy on problematic trials."

    The government insists the judiciary is independent, and it continues to defend the ongoing trial. But Hasim Kilic, the chief justice of Turkey’s Constitutional Court, acknowledged last week growing public unease over the politicization of the judiciary.

    The judiciary will have no chance of surviving if it only protects the lifestyles of people from a certain ideology while neglecting the freedoms of others." said Kilic. "An unfair justice is oppressive, he says, adding that being fair is essential for everyone, but an absolute must for members of judiciary."
     
    How the judiciary heeds that warning, observers say, could determine whether the Ergenekon trial heralds a new era of democracy or merely marks the transition from one authoritarian system to another.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Leaderless, Rudderless, Britain Drifts

    Experts predicted chaos would follow, if Britain decided to vote for Brexit, and chaos has

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Savas from: Davis, California
    May 01, 2013 6:02 PM
    In many countries, the name of "democracy" is expoused but few know the true meaning of this practice. If the judicial system of a country keeps people it considers criminals in detention for years and don't charge them with a crime, that country has no democracy or freedom. If a country declares that freedom of speech exists but places many who freely express their views in detention "after" they expressed their views, such a country has no freedom of speech. Turkey under the government of Mr. Erdogan is such a country. One can find many reasons to lock someone up but refraining from doing so is the democratic behavior.

    by: Major Ozlam from: Turkey
    May 01, 2013 2:17 AM
    there is no doubt that Turkey is imploding. Europe is hoping for a Military coup and will help to bring it about, but the Turkish Military has been pulverized and its spirit has been broken. Turkish soldiers are raping Syrian refugees on the border... bribery and corruption is everywhere... the Turkish Government had been trying to keep the lid over these facts but they are loosing control...

    by: Ex Turkish Military from: Canada
    April 30, 2013 5:07 PM
    Ergodan has been trying to bring the Military under Islamic control. not "civilian" control... he employed extrajudicial detentions, torture, property confiscations, rape and terrorism to scare the Military... once the pride of Turkey and the guardian of Turkish secular civilized Government. now, look at the Military - paralyzed with fear - that is Islam - fear and degradation

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora