We are pleading your honorable court to investigate and bring to trial the series of hate crime that have been committed by now President of the Republic of Turkey R.T. Erdogan (Prime Minister between 2013-2014) since 17/25 December 2013.
Turkey is on the verge of being an authoritarian state losing its democratic credentials and values, which are the legacy of Ataturk, the founder of Turkish Republic and result of great sacrifices of the Turkish people since 1923. Violations against human rights and freedoms have increased day by day to an unbearable position. Unfortunately, Turkey has fallen far away from its long admired position as a model and source of inspiration country for all Muslim majority countries in the world and especially for the rest of the Middle East, successfully showcasing Islam and democracy can coexist and they are not inherently in conflict at all. Unfortunately, Turkey in recent years has been mostly known for its corruption scandals, linkages with ISIS, pressures on media and freedom of expression and rights of minorities.
Turkey experienced December 17th and 25th 2013 police operations in an atmosphere where corruption has surrounded all over the country. What differentiates these operations from other known forms of political corruption cases in the country’s history is that they deciphered the widespread and elite corrupt linkages of Ministers in the AKP cabinet and President Erdogan and his family, especially his son Bilal Erdogan. The undeniable and effectively evidenced facts revealed in the operations showed the vast and shocking level of organized political corruption.
December 17th investigation began on September 12, 2012 with the reports of the MASAK (The Financial Crimes Investigation Board) and a large number of money laundering notices. According to meticulously collected and well documented evidences, organized crime group led by Mr. Reza Zarrab, originally Iranian and later repatriated by special decree of the corrupt Minister of Interior as Turkish citizen, was committing serious crimes in Turkey. During the investigation, police obtained concrete evidences regarding Mr. Zarrab’s group that committed bribery, gold smuggling, laundering of criminal proceeds, and forgery of official documents.
Contrary to the claims of the AKP, police did not target and gather evidence about politicians who had legal immunity in any stage of the investigation. Wiretappings and police evidences proved that Mr. Reza Zarrab was giving high amount of bribes to four Ministers in return for helping in money laundering operations. The investigation revealed that the three out of four ministers were the active figures of bribing chain through their children and the one was directly involved. Within the scope of operations, the police have identified approximately 90 million USD bribe money in total.
On the other hand, the prosecutor made a failed attempt to make another follow up operation on December 25, 2013. Despite the prosecutor’s clear and direct instructions, the police officers supposed to implement the operation, which were appointed in rush after the removal of the previous experienced police investigators and inspectors of the case following the December 17th operations and they all were under the direct influence of the Interior Minister and then the Undersecretary of the Prime Minister Mr. Efkan Ala, did not obey to these instructions. In short the operation could not be carried out. There were detention orders for 41 suspects, and the amount of corruption determined during this second investigation was over 100 million USD. The President Erdogan’s son Bilal Erdogan, was one of the high level suspect in the operation, abusing the power of his father in return for high amount of bribes.
Later in January 2014, the trucks belonging to MIT (National Intelligence Service) were stopped by a prosecutor who sought and issued a warrant to have the gendarmerie search the vehicles in the southern Turkish province of Adana before they crossed into Syria. Claiming that the trucks were carrying “humanitarian aid to Turkomens” in the war-torn country, the Turkish government accused the followers of Mr. Fethullah Gulen movement in the state’s judiciary and security institutions (alleged) of illegally ordering the search.
On May 29, 2015 however, Cumhuriyet Daily published an actual video footage of said trucks’ search implemented by the police and gendarmerie. The video footage which is still in YouTube proved that the load at the trucks were not “humanitarian aid” at all but instead were artillery shells, mortar bombs and machine gun ammunition which was hidden in crates below boxes of some medicine in the trucks. Subsequent to publishing of video footage, President Erdogan has publicly and personally threatened the editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet, Mr.Can Dundar. Expectedly, Can Dundar and the chief correspondent of Ankara office Mr. Erdem Gul were arrested in the last November, following an invented investigation based on ‘spying and treason’ allegations.
In the meantime, scores of credible international reports highlighted and emphasized the direct and indirect aiding of the various Turkish government agencies in transferring foreign fighters bound to join the ISIS, as new militants and being one of the customers for ISIS petroleum illegally smuggled from refineries in Iraq and Syria. According to the news reports, almost thousands ISIS militants used Turkish territory to cross into Syria and over 2000 trucks full of weapons were transferred to radical groups- which were claimed to be legitimate opposition groups in there. On the other hand, known and documented transferring routes of smuggled petroleum shows that Turkey is one of the biggest customers for ISIS.
Then PM and after August 2014 President Erdogan has reacted to all these vital challenges to his ruling party and family by fatal damaging if not totally destroying the country’s political, judicial, and bureaucratic system and institutions in order to cover up all his non-transparent relations led to these widespread scandals. Catastrophic results occured in the areas ranging from politics to judiciary from bureaucracy to media. President Erdogan has gradually turned more authoritarian. Following the November 1st general parliamentary elections, emboldened by his former party’s overwhelming victory, and on the contrary to the parliamentary system that exists in Turkey since 1946, he -de-facto- acting as the sole leader of the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of the government, rules the country recklessly as if a dictator. He is so intolerant to the criticism that, since he took office in August 2014 as the elected president, he has filed lawsuits against almost 900 people who allegedly have used humiliating words against him. He managed to convict, through arranged courts and judges more than half of them.
Erdogan has managed to built self-proclaimed and invented one-strong man-style presidential regime, which resembles those exists all over the Middle East. His priority now is to change the country’s constitution and legitimize his de-facto in place new presidential regime. His only desire is to turn whole country into the police-intelligence controlled single-man regime.
Currently, Erdogan has another plan over Kurdish origin citizens of the country in his initiatives to have a new Constitution. His plan is to militarize the whole Southeastern region of Turkey and securitize the Kurdish issue, just to make people believe that current constitution is very weak in controlling Kurdish insurgency and PKK terrorism. Unconstitutionally almost hundreds of curfews declared in neighborhoods, towns and cities of the Southeast Turkey. Caught in between the terrorists and state’s heavy handed security measures civilians are immigrating from the region, education and health services severely halted. Just to give an example 155.000 primary school students are forced out of schools.
President Erdogan has created unquestioning and totally obedient bureaucracy by removing and exiling thousands of experienced true patriotic bureaucrats and security apparatus of the country. This was necessary to cover up his illegal acts and implement his ambitious, irresponsible policies as detailed above.
One of his biggest blow to Turkey’s democratic credentials came in judiciary. President Erdogan reassigned judges, prosecutors, and dispersed entire state apparatus. Following December 17th and 25th operations, Mr. Erdogan immediately changed the Regulations of Financial Operations and locked the effective system of conducting anti-corruption investigations. He also made it practically inapplicable to investigate crime proceeds and money laundering.
He, unprecedentedly through Ministry of Justice and effectively lobbying and creating illegal incentives, intervened to the elections of High Board for Judges and Prosecutors, (HSYK) to creating his own Judicial design. This was effective nullification of the measures put in effect following the Constitutional Referenda for -among others- creating more independent judiciary in Sept 12, 2010 (The Turkish people voted 58% in favor of these reforms). Currently, judges and prosecutors do not have the immunity in their decisions. Whoever acts or make decisions against the AKP or will of the President is immediately punished by the Board.
President Erdogan, in an unbelievable manner and in an utter neglect of basic humanitarian values has committed hate crime against people who did not support himself. Erdogan basically created an “evil image” of Gulen and his followers, NGO movement known as ‘the Hizmet’. To this end, he also benefitted particularly from the mobilization of the so called “pool media” that was created by his direct orders through money collected from big construction, energy and other big companies who has accumulated wealth by direct AKP government bids. The derogatory language that Erdogan used in his speeches on almost every occasion were repeated in the printed media and talk shows in TVs of the pool media.
President Erdogan, not finding this media cartel effective enough, put unprecedented pressure on free-media out of his control. There were raids against Hurriyet Daily, Cumhuriyet daily, Zaman Daily, Bugun TV, KanalTurk TV, Millet Daily and Bugun Daily. Dozens of national and local TV channels and newspapers were forcefully and unlawfully confiscated by his direct orders to designed judiciary.
If not stopped by its own people and democratic free world, which Turkey made a national goal to join in values since the time of Ataturk, the country is on the way of being an authoritarian regime.
Those who think differently than Erdogan are intimidated threatened in their ordinary daily life. In many cases imprisoned. Turkey became a country of fear. In these lines many absurd incidences happening throughout the country: even a taxi driver of AKP supporter, when finds out opposing political orientation of a customer, do not hesitate to insult him/her with the exact same hate expressions, epithets used by the President such as “traitor”, “member of the parallel state” (to refer the Hizmet movement led by Mr. Gulen), “coup d’etat supporter” etc. Ostensibly, “parallel structure” that operated in the bureaucracy was responsible for every ‘evil’ activity in the country. The President has numerous times openly called this ‘yes if this is witch hunt so be it’. In doing so, the AK Party officials did not hesitate to contradict with their earlier stance and discourses on some critical issues, leaving no room for integrity and basic human decency.
Dear Honorable Fatou Bensouda,
On the basis of the facts presented above, we plea your intervention against this step-by-step evolving tyranny and series of hate crime targeting millions of innocent people in Turkey. Neither Turkish nation nor Turkish state apparatus which is uniquely democratic in nature among the Muslim countries does not deserve this. We have no doubt that your Court will make a fair, an independent, a sound and an exemplary decision on the basis of these strong evidences.
We solemnly believe that Turkish people, including those who have been suffering from this tyranny would like to see this tyranny be prosecuted by your Honorable Court.