The use of excessive force had drawn reaction from all around the world, to which PM Erdogan had said “the responsible police officers will get their due punishments if they have gone beyond their duties and orders.” Hearing this statement and still very suspicious whether the government were to be trusted or not –as the very same government had promised not to do anything that has been unleashed onto people- millions of people started waiting for the investigations. The initial result of investigations revealed that there was only one police officer who used excessive force, but his name would not be released. The great discontent after this grew much bigger seeing the court decisions of the last few days.
Recently a court case was closed against 4 military officers who had raped a 13 year old girl, they would not get any punishment as the court ruled “13 year old girl was willing to have intercourse with 4 men.” The anger against justice system was triggered with this decision and thousands joined in protests to call for officials to actually abide by law and serve justice. While on weekend the rape case was still hot, new day came with a court decision to release a police officer free who shot and killed Ethem Sarisuluk. While the shooter of Ethem was released, a kid who threw stone to policeman in Mersin was given 92 years prison sentence for “attacking the state” just several days ago.
Ethem was shot in his head directly by a police bullet, the court did not care to look for evidence, check the video footage of how he was killed or even listen to any witnesses. The policeman gave his statement “I was being attacked by protesters, they got my armour, my helmet and my baton. I was scared and whatever I did was in self-protection against disproportionate violence of protesters.” Hearing these words and considering that the PM had already stated his full support for the police forces, judges decided to release policeman on grounds of self-protection.
It is now important to remember what has changed between the time that Erdogan had stated there would be investigations and those responsible would get their punishment. Thousands of policemen across the country started falling into an unrest and it was the opinion of majority of them, the general tendency would be summarized in one sentence: “if you punish us for applying the orders you gave, and the orders came with the threat of losing our jobs in case of nonconformity, then we will join with protesters.”
The protest of the police forces deepened the police state attitude of the government, thus leading to even harsher handling of protests and protection of police forces. On Monday, during the graduation ceremony of police academy, Erdogan gave a speech and addressed the “heroes” of our times. He glorified every police action and defended them against criticisms. Fearing the reaction of 250.000 police forces in country wide protests and having to use the military to suppress these protests, Erdogan went so far as to say “my police has written a legend recently, it has epic value. You are the heroes of this country. I will not let anyone touch my police.”
The policemen seeing how they are already protected by the government and would not be punished for any unlawful act they carry out, have already been terrorizing streets by applying arbitrary violence or unnecessary tension through show of force actions, such as directing their rifles at people, asking for ID cards on streets, grabbing people’s bags/purses and checking inside randomly, taking those who protested these actions to police HQ, etc.
This morning, there were dawn-raids against 30 homes, people who participated in Gezi protests were detained on the grounds of “supporting terrorist activities.” However, the definition of terrorism might have been broadened in Turkey recently. While the state TV TRT has become the propaganda-machine of the government, the Mayor of Ankara, Gökcek –infamous for his threats against journalists and hate speech directed at them- stated that CHP (the main opposition party) should be closed down for the sake of democracy, as CHP was a terrorist party for supporting the protests. Gökcek continued to state “this is all a global communist conspiracy to topple AKP, they are supported by England, Germany, Russia, Iran, all around the world; all the world is against AKP and conservatives and democrats.”
It is also important to remember that justice only serves to government when needed and non-AKP civilians can not seek it. Whenever there is any kind of criticism towards the government, either PM himself, or another official from the party declares “I have given orders to my judges, they will handle this.” Or each time someone criticizes the mayor of Ankara, he gets sued. And also important to note PM Erdogan’s remarks about two months ago “seeing the support of popular will, the vote share of 50% that we received, law should know its place and bow to national will.” Seeing that there is also now a powerful break on the way to applying to European Court of Human Rights by putting up a major court at top level to slow down the process and never consuming all possible judicial steps in the country, there is great arrogance in the government that it is untouchable by the people.