Hakan Canduran, President of Ankara Bar Association, in his interview to Cumhuriyet daily, stated that Turkey is turning into fascism step by step, an authoritarian regime is underway, the government has been cleaning its path to a presidential system by eliminating the dissidents through the state of emergency.
“Turkey’s biggest problem is justice” he said. Canduran depicts the March for Justice as righteous. He points out that with the latest decree of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK), “judges and prosecutors have become members or sympathizers of the ruling party”. Drawing attention to anti-democratic practices in Turkey through the decree-laws, he recalls that when Saddam Hussein, the toppled Iraqi President, asked for justice during his trial, the judge’s response was: “I am judging you with the laws you had designed made”. “Today’s rulers may need justice one day. When the same laws are applied for them, they may not demand rights and justice” said Ankara Bar President.
Mr. Canduran spoke to Cumhuriyet daily about the opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s March for Justice from Ankara to Istanbul and the situation in Turkey on the anniversary of the July 15 failed coup attempt.
Oppression intensified by the decree-laws: “July 15 was a date when we all were under threat. It was understandable to take harsh measures at the beginning to thwart the coup attempt and to normalize the country. But later on the pressures by decree-laws got intensified. Unfortunately, the government has begun to rule all aspects of life with decree-laws. Detention periods were extended, the lawyers’ rights to defend were restrained, severe sanctions have been imposed without court decisions violating human rights. Public employees were dismissed for no reason and without any prior investigation. The decree-laws went out of their purpose. Their scope has been enlarged to include all dissidents. Journalists were arrested, academics were dismissed.”
The Constitutional Court opened the way (for injustice): The Constitutional Court has made a U-turn from its previous decision in 1990-1991 about the emergency decree-laws. The Court has made an implausible interpretation by saying that a decree-law, no matter what it is about, is exempted from the constitutional review. Later on, things worsened in Turkey. The government has begun to act without any restraint. Thus, quest for justice has become necessary.
We’re living in an authoritarian and dictatorial regime: It seems that the government loved to rule the country with decree-laws under the state of emergency. It may be difficult to govern the country under a parliamentarian system. In case you want to make a law, you have to discuss it at the parliament. But, it is not the case with the decree-laws. The Council of Ministers can issue decree-laws and whatever written in a decree-law becomes a decree with the force of law. Governing a country is very easy in this way. But where is democracy? Nowhere. 550 Members of Parliament should resist this. But we do not hear their voices. Ruling the country with an authoritarian and despotic regime is the easiest thing to do in the world.
Path cleaning is underway under the state of emergency: The presidential elections will be held in 2019. I see this presidential system as an authoritarian regime where the powers are not separated but vested in the same hand. That is why the elections were not rescheduled for an earlier date. They might wish to make cleaning first and then to hold the elections in an already cleaned garden.
Judges have become party members: The latest decree of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors is not a good one. All the judges particularly the members of the Union of the Judges (Yargiclar Sendikasi) who do not have the same worldview with the government were posted to different cities. When the HSK was formed, we underlined the necessity not to establish a political link. But the government divided it into pieces as rightists and leftists. During your government, you are keeping those who are loyal to you at the capital and sending the opponents away. When the government is changed in future, this time will they not do the same? It is a kind of party membership or party sympathizing. Until this government, there was not politics in the judiciary. No lawyer had information about the political view of the judges. With the current government, party-linked judges and prosecutors have arisen. The concepts of justice, rights and the law do not have a political party, political perspective, sect or side. Justice is a single concept and does not have political descriptions in it.
The President is acting like a judge (Erdogan labelled Demirtas as a terrorist). When you give up the separation of powers and accumulate them in your hand, you put yourself in place of a judge. Then you do not act like a president but a judge. Because you appoint the judges and direct them in their decisions to a great extent. This allows you to name someone as a terrorist or an innocent citizen. The Interior Minister accused 111 intellectuals of supporting terrorism, when they made an announcement on a newspaper for Nuriye and Semih who have been on hunger strike for quite some time. I was among the 111 intellectuals. We are not terrorist. Is there a court decision on that? To which terrorist organisation we gave support? The Interior Minister must show the court decision naming Nuriye and Semih as terrorists. In fact, they will understand when they read Turkish Penal Code once. Until the final verdict, everyone is innocent and nobody can be condemned or spotted.
Saddam’s trial by his laws: At this stage, it is not wise to expect from the government. Turkey may heal its wounds only through enlightening the people, reinstating the parliamentary system, ending the state of emergency and giving up to rule the country with decree-laws. Because the judiciary has been degenerated, there’s a growing sentiment that the court decisions are not just. Lately I have seen a well illustrating picture on which Saddam asks for justice during his trial in Iraq. The judge’s response: “I am judging you with the laws you had designed”. ‘Today’s rulers may also need justice one day. When the same laws are applied for them, they may not demand rights and justice”. Therefore, we ask for practices more compatible with the law.