The Ankara tri­al is a text­book case for any­one wish­ing to under­stand both the unend­ing track­ing down by the State of the insub­mis­sive ones and the man­ner in which injus­tice is secured by the suc­ceed­ing powers.

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We did not talk about this judge­ment in the heat of the moment, but the appeals should keep it top­i­cal for a long time, as with oth­er polit­i­cal tri­als that trans­form Turkey into a per­ma­nent Court against all protests.

The so-called “Ankara tri­al” was con­duct­ed in Ankara’s Penal Tri­bunal N°9 last March 15th. Nine­teen aca­d­e­mics, teach­ers, researchers, doc­tor­al and licence stu­dents who had signed the Call for Peace in Jan­u­ary 2015 were tried under the tra­di­tion­al charges in such cas­es such as “mem­ber­ship in an ille­gal orga­ni­za­tion”, “pro­pa­gan­da for an ille­gal orga­ni­za­tion”, “dam­age to pub­lic prop­er­ty”, “refusal to obey a State employ­ee”, but also extreme­ly tar­get­ed accu­sa­tions such as “belong­ing to the Fed­er­a­tion of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rights”, “respon­si­ble for the orga­ni­za­tion of the sym­po­sium of local pop­u­lar and rev­o­lu­tion­ary admin­is­tra­tions”, or par­tic­i­pa­tion in demon­stra­tions orga­nized by unions and cor­po­ratist orga­ni­za­tions such as KESK, DISK, TMMOB, TTB, all of them, need we men­tion, legal entities.

Six­teen aca­d­e­mics were sen­tenced to jail terms of 6 years and 3 months for “mem­ber­ship in an ille­gal orga­ni­za­tion”; eigh­teen per­sons were also sen­tenced to 10 months in prison for “pro­pa­gan­da”.

The “con­demned” remain free until their sen­tences are con­firmed since their lawyers have appealed. Of their num­ber, only Ali Hay­dar Yıldız was arrest­ed and incar­cer­at­ed, for rep­re­sent­ing a “risk of tak­ing flight”…

Around 2011, the Fed­er­a­tion of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Peo­ples (Demokratik Hak­lar Fed­erasy­onu – DHF) and its var­i­ous ele­ments became the tar­get of “Cemaat”, the move­ment devel­oped by the preach­er Fetul­lah Gülen. Because the DHF orga­nized ini­tia­tives that were report­ed in the main­stream media, and this proved both­er­some to Cemaat. A few exam­ples: The Sym­po­sium of local pop­u­lar and rev­o­lu­tion­ary admin­is­tra­tions invit­ing the pub­lic to intel­lec­tu­al ques­tion­ing, at which one of the par­tic­i­pants was Hrant Dink, a Turk­ish Armen­ian jour­nal­ist who was mur­dered later…and par­tic­u­lar­ly the cam­paigns the DHF con­duct­ed against the Gulenist move­ment in Der­sim (Tunceli).

In 2011, the mag­a­zine Aksiy­on, one of the press ven­tures of the Gulenist move­ment, pub­lished arti­cles against the DHF and its cam­paign. For exam­ple, an arti­cle under the title “In Tunceli, a rehearsal for a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion“ana­lyzes the event and reach­es the fol­low­ing con­clu­sion: “there is an insuf­fi­cien­cy on the part of State bod­ies in the fight against anti-Gülenist cam­paigns.” Fol­low­ing this arti­cle, mem­bers of the DHF were arrest­ed and kept in cus­tody in Der­sim, and a short time lat­er, in 2012, some hun­dred mem­bers of the DHF were also arrest­ed dur­ing police oper­a­tions through­out the coun­try. Some 40 of them were then incarcerated.

The hunter hunt­ed down with his own methods

 The arrests, the inves­ti­ga­tions and the accu­sa­tion files for the tri­al were con­coct­ed by police­men and lawyers close to and mem­bers of the Gülenist movement…

At the time of the open­ing of the tri­al in Ankara, mem­bers of the Gülenist move­ment were well ensconced at all lev­els of the State, and par­tic­u­lar­ly in the work­ings of secu­ri­ty and jus­tice. For their leader, Fetul­lah Gülen was still Erdoğan’s trav­el­ling com­pan­ion. This con­tin­ued for a while still until Erdoğan, wish­ing to eat his cake by him­self, decid­ed to declare that Gülen was his Ene­my N° 1. Nev­er mind the fact he was still an elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tive, among oth­er things, and, with the help of his influ­en­tial friend, a seduc­tive ele­ment for an impor­tant seg­ment of the electorate…

A near major­i­ty of the judges, pros­e­cu­tors and police­men who remand­ed, led the inves­ti­ga­tions, instruct­ed the pros­e­cu­tions, and pre­pared the files for the “Ankara tri­al” were fired, and judged, dur­ing the purges that followed.

The hunter was hunt­ed down, using his own meth­ods. This time, it was their turn to be accused and con­demned on the basis of absurd fal­si­fied doc­u­ments. A form, filled out and signed by an anony­mous hand, bear­ing the name of an accused, could be con­sid­ered as proof of his mem­ber­ship in an ille­gal orga­ni­za­tion, for exam­ple. Of course, every­one knows any self-respect­ing ille­gal orga­ni­za­tion pro­vides doc­u­ments in due form one must fill out in order to become an offi­cial mem­ber… Although crim­i­nal exper­tise estab­lished that these doc­u­ments  were  false, these per­sons did not escape sentencing.

But the tri­al of the aca­d­e­mics goes on…

 Despite these facts, and the arrests of the judges and the pros­e­cu­tors, the Ankara tri­al pur­sues its course. And last March 15th, the aca­d­e­mics were condemned…

Murat Yil­maz, lawyer from CHD (Asso­ci­a­tion of con­tem­po­rary lawyers), defend­ing the aca­d­e­mics in Ankara declared: “The State’s meth­ods do not change. When deal­ing with oppo­nents, pro­gres­sists, or Kurds, the fact their files were pre­pared by per­sons since con­demned as belong­ing to an orga­ni­za­tion also con­demned, has no bear­ing on the case…Using these ille­gal ele­ments of “proof”, the oppo­nents are con­demned and neu­tral­ized. As a con­se­quence, once again the oppo­nents are the injured par­ty in the con­fronta­tion with the dom­i­nant pow­ers against them.”

Ahmet Ker­im, eth­nol­o­gist, fired by decree from his uni­ver­si­ty posi­tion like the oth­er aca­d­e­mics who signed the Call for Peace, react­ed on his Twit­ter account after the sen­tenc­ing: “Thus, it stands at 8 years and a half of jail time, the price of par­tic­i­pa­tion in a May 1st demon­stra­tion, in strikes and boy­cotts, the fact of speak­ing at round tables and sym­posia, of fight­ing for pop­u­lar and rev­o­lu­tion­ary munic­i­pal­ism, and of bring­ing anthro­pol­o­gy to the streets…The world will have end­ed that we will still be singing the same song. May you drown in your own persecutions.”

Sinem Mut of Ankara Uni­ver­si­ty under­lined the fact that the pow­ers at AKP did not care who had pre­pared the accu­sa­tions and con­duct­ed the tri­al, but only cared about those that would be sen­tenced. “The police­man con­duct­ing the search in my home in 2012 had said: “You read a lot, you con­duct a lot of research but…” Today I would like to com­plete his sen­tence. “I over­came dozens of prob­lems, I obtained the right to be a researcher. Since my incar­cer­a­tion, I have not ceased read­ing and research­ing, and I con­tin­ue to pro­duce as much as I can. I loved my work, and my objec­tive was to fol­low the path of sci­ence and rea­son, to learn, and if allowed, to trans­mit. My aim was to teach and to advanced with the younger gen­er­a­tions, not as big­ots, but as peo­ple fol­low­ing the path of light, sci­ence and democ­ra­cy. Let us meet again then, in brighter days.” 

 Zelal Karataş, study­ing for a licence at the  Social Sci­ence Insti­tute of the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts Uni­ver­si­ty: “Dur­ing this tri­al where we are judged for mem­ber­ship in a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion, the total­i­ty of the accu­sa­tions con­cern our rights as cit­i­zens, rights pro­tect­ed by the Con­sti­tu­tion. There is no ques­tion of offences or crimes. Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the May 1st demon­stra­tion and that of March 8th, pres­ence at meet­ings orga­nized by unions, mem­ber­ship in a legal asso­ci­a­tion, orga­ni­za­tion of an ini­tia­tive such as a sym­po­sium, etc…This deci­sion demon­strates that all those who will dare have the courage to resist will be labelled “ter­ror­ists” and crim­i­nal­ized. We will use all our legal means of recourse.” 

Cem Kaan Gür­büz, study­ing for a licence in the Social Sci­ences fac­ul­ty at the Uni­ver­si­ty of the Mid­dle East sum­ma­rized the essen­tials about this tri­al with these words:

The police, the judges and pros­e­cu­tors start a tri­al for “mem­ber­ship in an ille­gal orga­ni­za­tion.” They are then fired them­selves for “mem­ber­ship in an ille­gal orga­ni­za­tion”. The judges and pros­e­cu­tors from the AKP fin­ish what their jailed pre­de­ces­sors began. In fact, for decades, like an unchang­ing State pol­i­cy, what is on tri­al is the strug­gle for demo­c­ra­t­ic rights. No mat­ter which set is strongest with­in the State, it uses con­straint in order to insure the State’s per­pe­tu­ity. Despite every­thing, we strive to main­tain hope and resis­tance. The wind will turn.”

 It may be use­ful to briefly sum­ma­rize the active col­lab­o­ra­tion between Fetul­lah Gülen and Erdoğan up until the years 2013/14 when dif­fer­ences arose between them on mat­ters of shar­ing and their appre­ci­a­tions on cor­rup­tion. Ten­sions were such at the time that, after Erdoğan expressed the wish for a reduc­tion in Fetul­lah Gülen’s grow­ing influ­ence  (via his foun­da­tions and his schools Gülen had intro­duced his pro­tégés with­in the State appa­ra­tus and the army. Hav­ing done so, he launched through his judges and pros­e­cu­tors a clean­ing oper­a­tion that desta­bi­lized the AKP. Oth­er griev­ances were also in the bal­ance, such as the finan­cial wind­fall from Gülen’s foun­da­tions and schools world­wide.) We should also remem­ber that, despite the fact Gülenist mil­i­tary offi­cers formed the major­i­ty of the cadres at the siege and mas­sacres of pop­u­la­tions in the East­ern Kur­dish quar­ters in 2015, Erdoğan had then threat­ened to “deeply restruc­ture the office of the Chief of Staff”, as an expres­sion of “grat­i­tude”. This was one of the aspects that led to the failed coup in 2016.

Briefly stat­ed, some of Erdoğan’s cur­rent worst ene­mies were once his best friends in ascend­ing to pow­er and con­sol­i­dat­ing his hold on it. No sur­prise then, if the ones who have always resist­ed the notion of Turci­ty, the cause of all the wars and divi­sion, should be the adver­saries of both, as demon­strat­ed by the con­ti­nu­ity of the injus­tice ongo­ing in this trial.

But there is some­thing com­i­cal in the fact, now that the wind has turned, in the fact the his­tor­i­cal ene­my risks find­ing him­self side by side in jail with the one who pros­e­cut­ed him and put him there. This is also what is hap­pen­ing in exile, since a num­ber of Gülenists are tracked down out­side Turkey, as are left­ists oppo­nents and Kur­dish militants.

The sec­ond les­son being pre­cise­ly that of the con­ti­nu­ity in the State pow­ers and their repres­sive machin­ery, no mat­ter what the purges and regime changes may be. The Repub­lic of Turkey has a fun­da­men­tal core, and the repressed geno­cide that served as its qua­si foun­da­tion­al act is still close­ly guard­ed by those serv­ing the State — and mak­ing use of it for their own inter­ests while they’re at it. Thus this tri­al demon­strates a remark­able con­ti­nu­ity of the State through­out its modifications.

And that the State’s oppo­nents should pre­cise­ly be aca­d­e­mics for Peace, nec­es­sar­i­ly rais­es ques­tions about the nature of the State con­duct­ing a war against them.

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