Turkey: How Racism Has Become Part of the Judicial System

Since the attempted coup on July 15 in Turkey, more than 500 judges and prosecutors have been detained and 2,745 judges have been laid off from their jobs for allegedly having connections with the attempted coup.

But the case of a Kurdish judge currently being investigated in Turkey is unprecedented in the history of the country’s judiciary system.

Turkey’s High Council of Judges and Prosecutors are looking into Kemal Sahin, who was appointed to the Istanbul court of appeals on March 25, for his posts on Facebook and Twitter — including a photo he took at a book fair with his two daughters and with the Armenian author M?g?rdic Margosyan.

Just five days after his appointment, the probe into Sahin was launched.

Some of the accusations directed at Sahin include :

  • Under the photo he posted on Facebook he took with the Armenian author Sahin wrote that he and his daughters, Yaren and Dilan, apologized to Margosyan [for the extermination of Armenians], declaring , “We are so grateful to them [Armenians] for enriching us in the midst of such poverty even though we diminished them.”
  • Posting a photo he took with the journalist Cengiz Mumay who writes about Kurds and Kurdish issues during his visit to the Istanbul book fair.
  • Posting information about Tahir Elci, a Kurdish lawyer murdered in Diyarbakir on November 28, 2015.
  • Posting information about the Kurds, Taybet Inan and Isa Oran, murdered by Turkish security forces in December, 2015.
    • Taybet Inan, 57, a mother of 11, was murdered on December 25, 2015 by Turkish sharpshooters in the town of Silopi, but Turkish security forces did not allow the family to retrieve her body. Seven days after Inan was murdered, her family was finally able to put her body in the morgue of the hospital. Isa Oran was murdered on December 23, 2015 during a military curfew in the town of Sur. His body was finally allowed to be retrieved after 29 days.
  • ?Posting an article published by the newspaper Radikal regarding the novel Brindar (Wounded) by the Kurdish author Abdullah Atasci.

While Turkey’s High Council of Judges and Prosecutors have demanded that Sahin defend him against these “charges,” Sahin said that the file against him does not mention which law his posts have violated. In fact, the file does not even mention what he is accused of.

“Where there are no claims, there will be no defense,” Sahin said, adding that he had “published all of these posts with a historical, ethical and conscientious responsibility and with great honor.”

This is not the first time Sahin has been investigated. In 2006, he was probed “for insulting the judiciary in a newspaper article.” The U.S. Department of State mentioned the case against Sahin in its “Human Rights Report,” stating that “Sahin had written that the judiciary was losing credibility and objectivity because judges face the fear of being investigated by the High Council if they pursue certain crimes or cases.”

Sahin’s alleged “crime” today is posting his views critical of the Turkish state and judiciary on social media and taking a photo with an Armenian.

Anti-Armenian sentiment, or “Armenophobia,” which denotes negative and hostile attitudes towards Armenians, Armenia, and Armenian culture, is extremely popular in Turkey and has a long history within the Turkish society.

This hatred against Armenians is being propagated by the very people whose ancestors committed a genocide against Armenians and wiped most of them from their native lands.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey, declared on March 16, 1923, in a speech to the Adana Turkish Merchant Society:

“The Armenians have no right whatsoever in this beautiful country. Your country is yours, it belongs to Turks. This country was Turkish in history; therefore it is Turkish and it shall live on as Turkish to eternity …  Armenians and so forth have no rights whatsoever here. These bountiful lands are deeply and genuinely the homeland of the Turk.”

Armenian-hatred, which has apparently become one of the “unwritten” founding ideologies of Turkey, is still crowd-pleasing in Turkey. In fact, covert or overt promotion of bloodthirst for all of Turkey’s indigenous people (Alevis, Greeks) is proudly promoted by Turkey, a NATO member-state — an atrocious kind of propaganda which is so easily bought by so many Turks.

Since August of last year to this day, military curfews have been imposed on the predominantly Kurdish southeastern towns. While Turkish security forces destroyed the town of Cizre in September, 2015, they announced on a loudspeaker to the local Kurdish population: “Armenians are proud of you; you are all Armenians. You are Armenian bastards.”

The Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) also reported that the police announced to the Kurds of Cizre that they were “Armenian sperms.”

Arin Gul Yeniaras, a lawyer who visited Cizre after the military operations, wrote,“Everyone was talking about the announcements of the police forces from armored vehicles: ‘We will cleanse you all in two hours, Armenian bastards! Come on! Let’s play house, Armenian bastards!’”

None of the police officers or soldiers responsible for these announcements has been brought to account, apparently because they acted in accordance with the official line of the Turkish regime.

However, one Kurdish judge – who cares about human rights and who has the courage to speak out in defense of minorities in a country where people can be murdered or arrested for criticizing the state – is being investigated for his posts on social media.

 

Uzay Bulut is a Turkish journalist formerly based in Ankara. She is presently in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/uzayb

 

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