BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
Ominous developments are taking place in Turkey beyond anyone’s imagination, under the guise of capturing coup plotters. Calling the coup attempt of July 15 “a gift from Allah,” Pres. Erdogan is exploiting this opportunity to realize his long-awaited dream of not only becoming a Sultan, but also Stalin and Hitler, all wrapped into one!
Shortly after the attempted coup, Erdogan ordered the arrest and dismissal of tens of thousands of military officers (including hundreds of generals and admirals), police, academics, civil servants, judges and journalists, as well as closing down hundreds of private schools. These actions were so swift that it was difficult to believe such a comprehensive list of suspects could have been compiled in a brief period. In reality, the Turkish dictator did not have to prepare any list, as he detained and dismissed all those who were not his followers!
On July 20, by a vote of 346 to 115, the Turkish Parliament approved a bill declaring a state of emergency for 90 days and handing Erdogan carte blanche to rule by Presidential Decree for 30 days. Both of these deadlines are likely to be extended to longer periods. The 115 parliamentarians who dared to vote against the bill may pay dearly for their disloyalty, as they could be stripped of their parliamentary immunity and charged with participating in the coup d’état. To prevent all judicial review of its illegal actions, the Turkish government informed the Council of Europe that it will no longer accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights!
There are some eerie parallels between the draconian measures of Erdogan’s regime and the tyrannical actions taken against Armenians and other Christians in Ottoman Turkey during their genocides of 1915-23:
1) The Turkish government placed a lien on the assets of suspects in the July 15 coup. After their probable conviction, these assets will be turned over to the state, similar to the properties confiscated from deported and massacred Armenians and others beginning in 1915;
2) All Erdogan supporters who were killed or injured during the coup attempt will be compensated by the confiscated assets of suspected plotters. A similar action was taken during the Armenian Genocide when the looted assets of Armenians were handed over to Turkish migrants from the Balkans and families of Young Turk leaders who had been assassinated by Armenian avengers.
Can Dundar, editor of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, taking a big personal risk, bravely asserted that under the state of emergency rule Turkey will have “an oppressive regime where liberties will be suspended, press will be censored, and the parliament eliminated.” Dundar failed to acknowledge that these oppressive conditions existed in Turkey long before the attempted coup. Indeed, Erdogan revealed his devious dictatorial plans over 10 years ago: “democracy is like a train. You take it where you have to go, and then you get off!”
Having reached the end of his “train ride,” Erdogan has now announced that he will reinstate the death penalty against “the coup plotters,” as a way of getting rid of his political rivals! European Union officials have warned the Turkish leader that such a move would bar Turkey permanently from EU membership!
In addition, Amnesty International issued a scathing report last week, documenting scores of violations of the rights of detainees and accusing Erdogan’s security forces of torturing, starving and even raping soldiers accused of complicity in the coup! The detainees have also been denied access to their lawyers.
In his obsessive fervor to eliminate all political opponents, Erdogan has demanded that the United States extradite to Turkey his arch-rival, Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, for allegedly organizing the July coup. In a racist effort to denigrate Gulen, Erdogan’s cronies have also accused him of being of Armenian ancestry, and having written a letter to a former Armenian Patriarch of Turkey, 50 years ago, acknowledging the Armenian Genocide!
The influential International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) issued two reports on July 18 and 21, designating the harsh measures of Erdogan’s regime as “arbitrary and contrary to fundamental rule of law principles.” Furthermore, ICJ’s Secretary General Wilder Taylor warned Turkey: “There are human rights that can never be restricted even in a state of emergency, notably the right to life, the prohibition of torture or ill-treatment, and the essential elements of arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and to a fair trial.”
Pres. Erdogan has done more damage to the Turkish nation than the so-called coup plotters by arresting and dismissing 60,000 soldiers, government officials and other civilians, thereby emasculating the once powerful military and undermining the country’s security.