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The following article appeard in the Bir Gün newspaper on 10 June 2012. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

It will be a very hot June

by Fikri Sağlar

Even if the past couple of days have brought intermittent rain to some areas before it has brightened up again, the hot season is fast heading our way!

In fact, the political temperature is set to rise well above the average seasonal temperature!

This is because the high pressure affecting politics is stronger than the climatic pressure.

Taking stock of developments, political forecasts have overtaken weather forecasts in importance!

***

Actually, the desire to see the coming days here and now is as old as human history.

As convictions strengthen, astrologers find themselves in greater demand.

The temples of those who read the future in the stars are as exalted and crowded as the places of worship of various religions.

Indeed, the soothsayers’ temples have sometimes even attracted more attention than those who worship the gods.

***

I would not wish to go as far as saying that it is “not the afterlife, i.e the other world, but the future in life” that has always excited and courted the attention of people.

***

However, looking at the present, we can at least see certain pointers concerning the near future.

***

The views expressed by Prime-Minister Erdoğan yesterday evening on a TV channel concerning Courts with Special Powers [CSP] serve as the clearest sign that the “Government/Cemaat [Religious Community]” clash has flared up to the extent that it can no longer be hidden.

The Prime-Minister, in saying:

“They crossed well over the line in the MİT [National Intelligence Agency] affair; if you bring in the undersecretary reporting to me, I will not stand by; if they are going to bring anyone in they bring me in first.

The CSPs have powers that go beyond the mark. This situation confirms the idea of a state within a state! It confirms the idea of being able to summon anyone, right up to the President!”

clearly expresses his opposition to these courts.

***

These words should not come as too much of a surprise!

The Prime-Minister has, over time, especially after the MİT Undersecretary was summoned before the prosecution, come to his senses. He has issued a number of warnings concerning the CSPs.

For example, he said that the Supreme Tribunal [Yüce Divan] was the place for Başbuğ to be prosecuted.

In commenting, with reference to the wave of arrests surrounding 28 February, that “if these waves grow bigger, Turkey will drown,” he came out in opposition to the workings of these courts.

If these warnings of Erdoğan are not interpreted as the straightforward corollary of the ‘single man’ phenomenon, they are correct in legal terms!

***

In the final analysis, we can say that Erdoğan has realised from observing events that he is the target!

Late as it is, this result is encouraging!

This is because for years the consensus of international institutions, especially the EU, when compiling reports about Turkey that there is no fair judicial process in Turkey.

All such documents have reported the non-observance of basic legal principles such that there is denial of the right to defence, detention is imposed automatically, evidence is hidden, and the right to submit evidence in favour of the accused is denied.

***

It is obvious that such thoughts expounded from every podium have influenced Erdoğan!

But what must really have influenced the Prime-Minister was the people’s response to the question “If you were arrested for any kind of offence, do you think you would receive a fair trial?” posed in April 2012 by the Genar Research company!

In Turkey, 67.6 per cent of the people think that they will not receive a fair trial!

This result speaks volumes!

Leaving the question of his sincerity to one side, it is normal for a politician who has set his sights on the Presidency and attaches importance to populism to take stock of this warning.

***

The CSPs are not, when examined from the point of view of law and justice, “independent and impartial”. Armed with the powers granted by article 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, they have become their own boss.

***

The practice of the High Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors created after the referendum has only served to intensify this independence. The HCJPP states that it does not take account of the seniority and expertise of the prosecutors and judges that it appoints to the CSPs. As such, it is impossible to speak of these courts as being “expert”. Indeed, of the 32,000 persons detained on terrorism charges globally, 13,000 are in Turkey.

The courts consider all who appear before them “to be terrorists”, or, if not going that far, make them terrorists under duress, and thus continue the process of detention.

***

The sole reason why the situation has now become so inflamed is that the Cemaat has issued a very stern response to the Prime-Minister’s view concerning the CSPs.

The Cemaat, disseminating the same old classic fear of coups, attempted coups, terrorism, gangs and organised crime and speaking of extra-democratic activities springing into motion, is standing by the courts. It is acting as a kind of defender of the CSPs; it is mobilising its columnists in opposition to the Prime-Minister and the AKP.

It is clear that this ‘fire’ which has been stoked up is going to heat up the air a great deal more.

***

The high pressure from all this hot air looks set to stoke things up when the forgotten law concerning the Presidency has its return match in the Constitutional Court!

As is known, if in the action brought at the request of the CHP the law is annulled, Turkey will have to hold presidential elections on 24 August!

Under such circumstances, either a supplementary article will be appended to the Constitution and the presidential election will be conducted for one final time by Parliament, or a snap referendum will be held!

***

In either case, all of Erdoğan’s calculations will change!

This situation will see the AKP’s road map fall apart and politics will dance to a new tune.

It is clear that new parties and leaders will emerge from this unexpected tremendous storm!

***

June will be hot!

Let everyone safeguard themselves as of now!

Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton