Islamists jail hundreds of Turkish military officers
- The Islamist Turkish government is cracking down on freedom of speech, of the press and eliminating secular military officers.
- The "free" Western media gives these events near zero coverage.
Turkish military officers are resigning en masse to avoid arrest and sentencing for conspiracy against the government. The cabinet of PM Erdogan is winning the decade-long battle with country’s once almighty generals, journalist Andrew Finkel tells RT News.
|General Mustafa Kemal Atatürk|
created a secular and modern Turkey
after World War I.
Over at least the past half a century, the Turkish armed forces have been notorious for regular interference in domestic politics, organizing several coups to displace governments and generally having great influence on the political landscape reports RT News.
Turkish high brass has always been proud of staying guard of the secular nature of the Turkish state, the legacy of the founder of modern Republic of Turkey, the iconic first president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
But when in 2002 Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) won nearly two-thirds of the seats in parliament, the situation changed dramatically.
The new prime minister of Turkey and his party, considered moderately Islamist, felt vulnerable towards an armed forces with traditionally strong political positions.
The ruling party and its leader began a gradual consolidation of power which, in several years’ time, ended with the initiation of a massive legal assault on the recent determiners of the country’s fate.
Turkey extends grip on armed forces
Turkey's government has been stepping up its efforts to arrest and prosecute dozens of army generals.
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The first was heard in Turkey in July 2011, when navy, army and air force commanders stepped down over a rift with the Erdogan government. This was a result of multiple arrests of officers accused of plotting a coup against the government, with proven Islamic roots, reports at the time said.
Despite that, Turkey continued arresting officers and initiating a number of conspiracy trials against the top brass.
In September 2012, after a 21-month trial, a court sentenced three former army generals to 20 years (initially lifetime sentence) each in prison for plotting a coup. The court stated that the defendants were planning to wage a war with neighboring Greece and organize explosions in Turkish mosques to justify a coup d’état against Erdogan's government almost a decade ago.
Together with the generals, nearly 330 officers, including senior ones, were convicted for the would-be coup. All the defendants denied the charges as unfair and unlawful, claiming the evidence had been fabricated.
|Police have arrested a number of journalists, in a crackdown |
on an alleged "seditious" secularist network.
Hundreds more Turkish officers remain on trial right now on a number of conspiracy cases against the state.
“Altogether, about 15 per cent of the top brass, that is colonels and generals, actually are on trial,” Finkel told RT. “This is the main cause of this major disillusionment within the army.”
According to media reports, around 10 per cent of all Turkish 348 generals and admirals are currently locked behind bars.
In late January 2013 the exodus of Turkish officers from the army was given a new push. Turkey’s number-two naval commander Admiral Nusret Guner resigned, allegedly over the detention of hundreds of his colleagues. His premature voluntary retirement sparked yet another wave of resignations.
“In the past few years my comrades in arms, some of whom I know very closely and about whose patriotism I have never felt the slightest doubt, have been found guilty through verdicts handed down by courts in the name of the nation," Nusret Guner said, delivering a farewell speech to his colleagues. He also said he had demanded to be allowed to resign last September, immediately after the sensational coup d’état trial, but his submission was not granted.
Among other reasons, the admiral explained he wanted to retire as soon as possible because “a series of plots involving me could be constructed," he said.
According to reports, some 110 Turkish Air Force officers followed the example of the commander's resignation.
|Secular Turkish Protesters Against Islamism.|
Young women shout slogans as they march with thousands of people towards the mausoleum of Ataturk to celebrate the country's Republic Day in Ankara, on October 29, 2012.
A Western Media Blackout
Turkish police tear gas thousands-strong secularist demonstration
- American and Western media ignores the Islamist coup in Turkey.
Tear gas and water cannons met thousands of protesters in Ankara who had staged a pro-secular rally on Republic Day. The clashes mark a growing gap between the Islam-leaning government and the country's secular layers.
“Turkey is secular and will remain secular!” chanted protesters waving Turkish flags and banners.
The capital’s governor last week banned a planned pro-secular rally citing fears that “some groups may seek to incite anarchy in the country.” But Monday, over 30 civil society groups, led by the Youth Union of Turkey, still took to the streets reports RT News.
Tens of thousands gathered in Ankara's old city to march to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the secular republic on October 29, 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
“We are the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal!” shouted the demonstrators, who have been angered by an Islamic bent demonstrated recently by the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Video: Police tear gas & water cannon Turkish secularists
Since Erdogan first occupied the PM’s seat in 2003, his government has pushed a number of democratic reforms to bring Turkey closer to EU standards, such as abolishment of many restrictions on freedom of speech and the press.
But a recent education reform has been slammed by opposition groups as “promoting more Korans in schools and veil wearing.” Other criticisms stem from Erdogan’s strong political personality, with many suspecting the PM of “elected sultan” ambitions.
In recent years, Republic Day celebrations have become a common date to mark the country’s fears for its secular traditions. But as on Monday demonstrators failed to reach Mustafa Kemal’s mausoleum, where Erdogan, President Abdullah Gul and other top officials had laid wreaths hours earlier.
“Great Ataturk… We stand before you with the pride of being a country that is improving its democracy, protecting human rights and freedoms, strengthening its economy and maintaining reforms. We are trying our best to surpass the level of contemporary civilization, to maintain the basic values of our republic,” President Gul wrote in the special ceremonial register at the mausoleum.
|Secular Turkish Activists Protest Islamists|
Demonstrators shout slogans and wave Turkey's flags as they stand on top of an armoured police vehicle during clashes with riot police in central Ankara.
|Thousands of people holding national flags gather at the mausoleum of Ataturk to celebrate the country's Republic Day in Ankara, on October 29, 2012. (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)|
|Riot police use tear gas to disperse people waving national flags and posters of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during a march to Ataturk's mausoleum as they mark Republic Day in Ankara, on October 29, 2012.|
|Riot police use tear gas and water canons to disperse the crowd as thousands of people holding national flags marched to the mausoleum of Ataturk to celebrate the country's Republic Day in Ankara.|