By ATILLA KOC
Throughout history, people who accumulated sufficient power have elaborated different ways to annihilate their opponents. Notorious Roman General Lucius Cornelius Sulla had developed an authentic style to destroy ‘enemies of state’ which is called proscription lists.
In 83 BC, Sulla’s arch-enemy and his former commander Gaius Marius returned to Rome and started to revenge from Sulla supporters. Thereupon, Sulla quickly settled his conflicts in Asia minor and started his march on Rome with his army. Sulla, in Italy, found Marius jr. who had replaced his late father, and his army near Rome. In a fierce battle just outside the city, Sulla’s experienced army inflicted a defeat on their enemy.
This victory made Sulla the only master of Rome. He did not show mercy to enemy forces who already had surrendered, giving the order of killing thousands of prisoners. Yet, it was not the end of the bloodshed.
The Civil War inflicted deep wounds in the society. People were divided as supporters and enemies of Sulla. Given Sulla’s absolute victory, for Sulla supporters, it was time to take revenge from enemies.
In Rome, Sulla appointed himself as a dictator first time after almost a century. He acknowledged that he has to cleanse all enemies to give Rome a better governance. He did not wait too much to live up to his promises. In fact, his supporters, organized as death squads, had already been hunting the rest of the society.
However, the target names were not declared, it was a chaotic atmosphere, and nobody, including Sulla supporters, was sure about his life.
Although Roman senators did not have courage and power to stop Sulla, Rome was a state of law. So, they dared to ask Sulla guilty names to save the rest of the society from terrifying uncertainty. Yet, Sulla had used this opportunity for more frightening campaign. Next day, he issued a list of names in the Forum, and the following day another one. New lists and new names were acknowledged every day. People whose name were on the list were killed immediately, their properties confiscated, and their sons and grandsons barred from all public offices. The consequences of being listed were catastrophic including for their families. All Roman aristocracy especially the wealthy ones were in potential danger. Sulla had promised to give properties of slained people to their killers as spoils of enemy in order to encourage his supporters.
Sulla, who was inspecting chopped heads in person, had been giving bounty to the assassins. As a result, proscription lists had turned to be a way to get easy money. Having an estate was enough for a citizen to see his name on the list even if he was pro-Sullan. During his reign, Sulla had given no respite to his enemies. In so much that he had been asking from citizens to divorce from their wives who had any kind of affinity with an anti-Sullan.
In some cases, victims’ names were added to the lists after their illegitimate killings.
It was one of the tragic eras in the Roman history, but not the last one. Sulla’s invention of proscription lists, which marked Sulla’s reign as a bloody tyranny, has been used in various times and places.
Today, in 2017, proscription lists are once again revived by Erdogan’s Turkey to annihilate dissidents.
Last year, on July 15, 2016, a group of soldiers were used as bait to establish a full dictatorial regime in the country. Some of them were totally unaware of what was happening and some had believed that they were there to prevent a coup attempt. Yet these thoughts did not save them. Angry crowd, who was organised better than the alleged coup plotters, beaten them severely, and even cut their throats, like in IS videos.
However, the terror in Turkish society did no end at that night. Erdogan, who defined the failed coup as a gift from God, was determined to annihilate all his opponents.
After declaration of state of emergency, the government started to issue decree laws, one after another to cleanse all dissidents from public offices; to confiscate their property; and to close hospitals, schools, etc.
Until now, more than 160.000 people has been purged from different branches of state apparatus. Even after a year, all public officers, Gulenists, Kemalists, Kurds have been continuing to feel the same fear when they hear about a new decree law. Instead of tablets hanged in the Forum in the ancient Rome, people check their names on lists attached to decree law published on the website of the official gazette.
People on the lists lose not only their jobs but also their all activities in the society. Due to the publicity of the purges and detentions, they are marked as the enemies of state or traitors. This paves the way for their exclusion from society. They can hardly find a new job in private sector. Since they lose their insurance, it is almost impossible to go to a hospital for them if they do not have saving. Besides, in most cases, they are excluded from their families.
Being on the Erdogan’s proscription lists does not mean death sentence for now. Nevertheless, it is not a remote possibility. Put Erdogan’s eagerness to bring back death sentence aside, AKP supporters have been taking up arms and preparing openly for a bloody score-settling for a long time. Leading figures of the AKP have been provoking their partisans for taking up arms and revenge. A state supported mafia leader has been intimidating opponents of Erdogan with blood baths. Also, there are ‘fatwas’ religiously legitimizing the killing state enemies, seizing their property as spoil of war, and taking their wives and daughters as concubines, making rounds.
Erdogan did not leave rewarding his partisan out. Prominent AKP supporters are appointed as trustee to victim’s confiscated property. Since they are seen as spoil of the enemy, this plundering has become the norm for AKP constituent. As a matter of fact, they show their delight from the government campaign against traitors whenever possible.
Even after securing the absolute power, purging more than 160.000 people, and arresting more than 50.000 people, Erdogan has not quenched his thirst for oppression yet. AKP’s preparations clearly shows us Erdogan wants a ‘final solution’ for his opponents.
Dictators, in most cases, face a tragic end and they share their victims’ destiny. Nevertheless, until then, they inflict great pains on their societies and bring their countries on the brink of collapse.