— The Erimtan Angle —


The pro-government Daily Sabah announces that “Cumhuriyet daily’s two high-level employees Can Dündar and Erdem Gül have been freed in the early hours of Friday [, 26 February 2016] after Turkey’s top court ruled that their detentions had violated their rights. Turkey’s Constitutional Court gathered on Thursday [, 25 February] and decided by a majority of votes (12 against three) that there has been an infringement of rights regarding the arrests of Cumhuriyet daily’s two high-level employees Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. The top court said in its decision, ‘Individual rights as well the freedom of the press and expression have been violated’. Dündar, who serves as editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, and Gül, who serves as Cumhuriyet’s Ankara representative, were arrested last year after publishing a controversial report regarding the National Intelligence Organization (MİT)”.[1] And in the next instance, the report explains that “Dündar and Gül were responsible for publishing footage regarding an unlawful raid that targeted trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) in early January 2014. Dündar and Gül then petitioned to the Constitutional Court for their release, indicating that they were subjected to a violation of their rights. Despite their release on Friday, the two journalists are still facing possible life sentences at a trial which is due to start on March 25. They are also banned from leaving the country”.[2]


From Austria’s capital, Vienna the “International Press Institute (IPI) [on Thursday, 25 February 2016] welcomed a ruling by Turkey’s Constitutional Court that the arrest and ongoing pre-trial detention of Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül violated their ‘freedom of expression, freedom of the press and right to personal security and freedom’. Local reports indicated that the decision would now be forwarded to the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penalty Court, where the pair face trial over reports claiming that Turkey’s intelligence agency secretly armed Islamist rebel groups in Syria, and that they were expected to be released tonight or tomorrow. ‘We are extremely pleased that the justices of the Constitutional Court stood up today and demonstrated that democracy and respect for human rights are still fundamental values in Turkey’, IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis said. ‘IPI and its members across the globe look forward to Mr. Dündar and Mr. Gül’s swift release, and we will continue to advocate on their behalf until this baseless case against them has been dismissed’. Dündar, Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief, and Gül, its Ankara bureau chief, are accused of ‘gathering secret state documents for the purposes of political and military espionage’, ‘attempting to topple the government of the Republic of Turkey or attempting to stop either partially or totally the government from fulfilling its duties’ and ‘deliberate support for a terrorist organization without being a member’. Dündar and Gül were taken into custody in November 2015 and have spent 92 days in pre-trial detention at Turkey’s Silivri Prison. The trial against them is currently scheduled to begin on March 25 [, 2016]. If convicted, they each face an aggravated life term in prison, a second life term and an additional 30 years behind bars. The charges against them stem from a May 29, 2015 report published in Cumhuriyet that included a video purportedly showing Turkish security forces searching Turkish intelligence agency trucks en route to Syria containing crates of ammunition and weapons. That video appeared to confirm previous reports claiming Turkey’s intelligence agency, the MİT, arming Islamist rebels in Syria despite Turkish government denials”.[3]


The daily Cumhuriyet is a staunchly Kemalist publication, with historical ties to the Republican People’s Party (or CHP), a paper which has been critical of Turkey’s AKP-led government from the very start. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his henchmen have been determined to bring an end to the lenient and permissive regime in place — a regime that used to be called Turkish Secularism. With the ascent of Ahmed Davutoğlu to the position of prime minister some would argue that the AKP has largely achieved most of its goals and Turkey today is a nation positioned on a staunchly post-Kemalist path, a path that leads towards a post-nationalist and mono-confessional future, to a Turkey with a citizenry composed of Sunni Muslims known colloquially as Turks.

“As I have written quite some time ago, ‘opponents of Erdogan and the AKP now fear that the government’s long-term goal (as arguably expressed in the AKP’s policy statement Hedef 2023) is to transform the nation state Turkey into an Anatolian federation of Muslim ethnicities, possibly linked to a revived caliphate. In this way, Turkey’s future (as a nation state) would arguably become subject to Anatolia’s past as a home to many different Muslims of divergent ethnic background. The fact that Erdogan’s oft-repeated reference point is the first assembly of what was to become Turkey’s parliament on 23 April, 1920, seems to render strength to such contentions. The first assembly consisted of representatives of Anatolia’s Muslim population, the then-Kemalist constituency, who had pledged allegiance to the Ottoman Sultan-Caliph, Mehmed VI – two years later, the transformation of Anatolia’s Muslims into Anatolian Turks begun in earnest’. And now in 2015, the de-construction of the Anatolian Turks into Anatolia’s Muslims of different ethnic strip united under a Muslim and/or possible Neo- or Pseudo-Ottoman banner seems to have been put into motion by the President and his AKP state apparatus, and particularly, the Ministry of Education. The New Turkey now being built is clearly no longer looking towards Europe and the West, as vividly illustrated in last year’s final [National Security Council] chaired by the ‘Prez’ Erdogan in his new White Palace, with the assembled military dignitaries sitting in a room where the traditional portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is only prominent by its absence”.[4]


[1] “Cumhuriyet daily’s Can Dündar and Erdem Gül to stand trial without arrest for espionage” Daily Sabah (26 Feb 2016). http://www.dailysabah.com/investigations/2016/02/25/cumhuriyet-dailys-can-dundar-and-erdem-gul-to-stand-trial-without-arrest-for-espionage.

[2] Cumhuriyet daily’s Can Dündar and Erdem Gül to stand trial without arrest for espionage”.

[3] “Court: Turkey’s detention of Dündar, Gül violates rights” IPI (25 Feb 2016). http://www.freemedia.at/newssview/article/court-turkeys-detention-of-duendar-guel-violates-rights.html.

[4] C. Erimtan, “The end of ‘Secular Turkey’ or Ottomans re-emergent?” RT Op-Edge (13 Jan 2015). https://www.rt.com/op-edge/221835-turkey-religion-secular-state/.


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