October 18, 2010

the vicious circle of unlawful state brutality

Hanefi Avcı is one of the most pronounced names in Turkish political arena nowadays. He first became the center of attention with his book in which he talks about how a spesific religious community tries to hold position in Turkey.

There are already a library full of books on this topic, but what makes his book pretty unique is that, he is a police chief and he is talking about his own experiences in the book. And i mind you, he is not just one of the police chiefs around there, but someone with a quite reputation. So he was taken seriously.

He was first taken seriously, and taken to custody. Now he is behind bars waiting for his trial to be handled in which he is charged with being a member of an illegal leftist organization. Which doesn't make much sense to me actually, because this man has always been known for his right wing and religious stand. So it is not convincing for me that he is a member of an illegal leftist organization.

But from another point of view, that makes perfect sense. Let me distract a little bit to talk about this book "Blind Date" i read many years ago written by Jerzy Kosinski. In this book, the protagonist goes to a small American town. He is actually American but from a Russian descent and his name pretty much resembles a communist name. If i recall it correctly, it must be mid 70s.  And the sherrif of the town invites him for a friendly chat. And the sherrif blackmails the protagonist to do some sort of a dirty work. He has some false evidence against our guy for the blackmail but that doesn't matter at all. The sherrif says something like this: "It doesn't matter how weak the evidence is. The jury will be from here. You have a Russian name. And I will spread the word that you are a communist. Now, our folks know only one thing about communism and that is, it is worse than Nazism. You can't find one single person in the jury who thinks you are innocent."

You get the idea? It wouldn't really work if he was accused for being a member of a the rightest organization you can ever imagine. Call him a leftist, and here you have a case. There are still a lot of people in Turkey who has no idea what left is, only that it is evil.

But i will come to that later on.

When his book was released, all the attention was and still is on the religious community thing. Well now, i have the book. I have to admit that i cant read fast enough. It has almost been 2 months now and im still at the page 350. I know, you can sue me for not treating a book as it deserves. So anyway, in that 350 pages, i still didn't come to the part he talks about the religious community. But, he talks about some really very serious stuff. And i personally think it is just unbeliavable how come nobody talks about his very serious allegations in his book which are not directly related to the religious fight.  I simply can't believe the horrendous level of corruption accompanied with a horrendous level of incompetence in this country, told by a police chief who is talking about his own experinces and observations. And even if there are some skillful people who try to do something, they are just obstructed in a way or another either because of political reasons or worse, because of plain old jealousy.

At this point, i have to make clear that this man is not a saint. And even though he doesn't mention about it in his book, he is a known torturer. Actually, this is what they tried to attack him with at first, but it didn't make the desired effect, because he had already apologized for his brutal methods he used in the past. There is something he mentions in his book though:  He says that most of the police officers (along with any other officials as a matter of fact) still beleive that brutality is the most effective method. They sincerely believe in what they are doing because they just don't know any better.

Here is another distraction for you: Ezel is one of the most successful Turskish tv shows. At the beginning of the story, our guy Ömer is framed by his best circle of friends and goes to prison for robbery and murder When police captures him simply because someone informs them about him, they just beat him to death to make him confess. Unfortunately, he is really innocent and has nothing to confess. But nobody believes him and they keep torturing him. The rest is his story to take his revenge. You may or may not like the tv show but there is something for sure: the police attitude depicted in the show is accurate and that is mostly because they dont really know better.

Back to book now. There is an entire chapter in his book dedicated to the Uzan Family. I believe that The Uzan Case is really very important because of multiple reasons.

First of all, let me assure you that I have no doubt that the family was nothing a bunch of crooks and blackmailing criminals. And when i read in the book, i just couldn't believe how far thay had gone in their criminal activities, how blatantly they had stolen from the people. There is no doubt that they are a bunch of criminals.

Today, Cem Uzan is residing in France, knowing that he will be put into jail for his crimes if he ever steps into Turkey. Almost all of their family assets are confiscated. Yet, i'm pretty sure that he is still wealthier than any average person in this country. Much more wealthier, actually. 

When Mr. Avcı talks abolut the blatant crimes of the family, you rightfully feel angry. At some point, you feel like "These guys deserved everything happened to them." Yet, this is not the entire story. It has been like 7 - 8 years so forgive me for not remembering the details, but i remember that the state force was too brutal on the family. I don't necessarily mean physical brutality,  no, not this time, but i remember that most of the police raids were somehow --well, a very flex interpretation of law. OK, they were unlawful.

But, Mr. Avcı does not talk about this aspect of the situtaion. Of course, he is a police chief and his only concern is to catch the criminals. But there should be ways to catch a criminal, so that the regular people will be sure that their rights are protected. This is kind of a thing i tried to explain back those days. Nobody seemed to care much, mostly focusing on how they deserved it. But in a proper democratic country: 1. The laws would never allow the Uzan Family to go that far in the first place, and 2. Even if they find  wise ways to steal from people and get caught in the end, there should definitely be a set of laws which defines how to react, in case they are innocent. What the hell, they weren't innocent so why do we care, right?  Wrong.

Mr. Avcı also mentions the Ergenekon case, which is the biggest thing going on in Turkey nowadays. This is really a very huge file, and if you don't know about it but wonder what it is, i suggest you to google it to learn as much as you can.

The general public attitude for the Ergenekon Case is not actually any different than the attitude Uzan Family received back then. Some people already believe that these guys are guilty of trying another coup, so they deserve to be behind bars. Don't make mistake. I am not defending them. I am not defending a coup, as in most people want to make it look like. I am defending their rights which they are supposed to have in a counrty which is ruled by proper laws - which they are obviously deprived of. Make your own reserach, and you will see how weak and irrelevant most of the evidences are. What's worse, most of the evidences are nothing more than a bunch of phone talks which are bugged illegaly. And nobody cares about it.

Mr. Avcı in his book talks about his impressions on the case, saying that nobody has the right to make a coup. Second that. However, he does not talk about the evidence which are most likely captured illegaly, or in a dubious way. Nobody has the right to do that, either.

Funny enough, at this very day, he suffers from the exact unlawful vicious circle. Today, he is the victim of the methods he not only defended but actually invented himself. Actually, he is one of the first police officers who introduced technology into police investigations, which doesn't sound like a bad idea at first. However though, when you read his book, you simply realize that he didn't really cared about the legal aspect of his investigations and listened to anyone he suspected. Those people he listened might be the worst criminals this counry has seen, or they might be innocent. All I am asking is, where is the law in this?

There is no law. That's why Mr. Avcı is now in prison waiting for his trial to begin in which he is accused of being a member of an illegal leftist organization. That's why his office which he had left months ago was raided by the police, without the attendance of his lawyer, and some sound tapes were found which were illegaly recorded at least ten years ago. It is really not clear why Mr. Avcı left those tapes in an office which he had already emptied, only if, they were not planted there. And if, unauthorized sound tapes are illegal, what are we supposed to do with all those sound tapes regarding the Ergenekon Case, which Mr. Avcı was defending so fiercly in his book.

Now he is the victim in a game in which he has always been the hunter. Unfortunately for me and for my possible children in the future, i don't see no light here.


Ayak said...

Extremely interesting post jedilost. I wish I could get this book in English. I admit I had to google for more information and it does intrigue me.

This article appeared in the English version of Hurriyet in September.. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=former-turkish-police-chief-under-custody-2010-09-28

what I find most interesting...and you may too...if you scroll down and read some of the comments.

jedilost said...

i am glad to hear that my post was helpful. i dont think the book will ever be translated, though.

Post a Comment