In Diyarbakır, the Saturday Mothers gathered for the 642nd time. This week, they drew special attention to the brothers Abdulbaki and Kemal Birlik, who disappeared in 1995 after being stopped by the army outside Kızıltepe. They had just been released from prison after three years. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stop thinking about the victims of the criminal gang that is the Turkish state, while Turkey and Turkey-watchers are eagerly awaiting the next Sedat Peker video.
President Erdoğan has now vowed to bring Sedat Peker, who is recording and broadcasting his videos from Dubai, back to Turkey. “We will bring organised crime leaders to Turkey like we did with the FETO members and PKK members,” he said this week. It’s not very likely he will succeed. The state managed it with PKK leader Öcalan in 1999 with the help of the CIA and Mossad and other international actors, but of course Peker is not as important to foreign actors, if at all. Erdoğan has managed to bring some “FETO”-members (followers of Fethullah Gülen) to Turkey by kidnapping them, but the big fish, Fethullah Gülen himself, won’t be extradited by the US, where he lives.
But what if Sedat Peker ended up in Turkey? Sure, he’d be brought to trial for the damage he is inflicting on the state. Guided by Erdoğan himself, the prosecutor could make a case for “treason”, or “breaking the unity of the state” or “plotting to overthrow the government”. Or, now that I think of it, Erdoğan can coin SEPETÖ (Sedat Peker Terrorist Örganisation) so he can utilise the anti-terrorism law. Peker still wouldn’t face that much time in prison because in the end, he has – obviously – always been part of the state system and with his credentials, he wouldn’t be locked up for long.
What Peker would not be tried for, is his complicity in the crimes the state perpetrated against its own civilians, notably of course mainly Kurds who were (allegedly) politically active. He would not be, for example, investigated for complicity in the murder in 1993 of Savaş Buldan, the husband of Pervin Buldan, who became a Saturday Mother after becoming a widow, went into politics and is now the co-leader of the HDP. In one of his videos, Peker has implicated Mehmet Ağar in the murder of Buldan. Ağar is a former police officer in the Southeast whose career was boosted by the extrajudicial killing of Kurds and who eventually became Minister of Justice and Minister of Interior.
Why I am so sure about that? Let’s take a short look at Turkey’s hsitory, which is as always enlightning.
Around a decade ago, the news in Turkey was dominated by the Ergenekon trials. Ergenekon was supposedly an illegal secularist organisation within the state that was plotting against the government. Many military officers and journalists, opposition MPs and others were prosecuted. The alleged head of Ergenekon was Veli Küçük, a retired brigadier-general. Just like Mehmet Ağar, Küçük was known for assassinating Kurds: he founded JITEM, the illegal murder squads of the army that is responsible for hundreds of political murders in the Southeast in the 1990s. In 2013, Küçük was sentenced to two life sentences for his role in Ergenekon, and released again a year later.
For years, Kurds demanded the prosecution of Küçük for the Kurdish blood on his hands, but the attempts were in vain. Only when he was (allegedly) threathening the foundations of the state, he was arrested and brought to court. Of course he didn’t serve his life sentence. He could never really fall from grace after all everything he did for the state he served.
I consider all the men involved in these scandals of the same type: hardcore fascists who do everything to preserve the power of the state and of themselves. And no, I am not just talking about a mobster like Peker, a murderer like Ağar and a assassin like Küçük; I also mean Süleyman Soylu, the current Interior Minister who is one of Peker’s main targets, and Tayyip Erdoğan. We don’t know which accusations are true and to what extent, but for my verdict, knowing that is not necessary. I have followed Turkey and Kurdistan long enough to know that none of these men care the tiniest little bit about human life and don’t hesitate to murder or order murder. All the lethal games they play, everything they do to bring their competitors down, is only in the interest of power. Never in the interest of justice.
Justice is the only thing on the minds of the victims. On the minds of the mothers who have gathered this weekend for the 642nd time. Their quest for justice shouldn’t be as obscured by the mobsters’ games as it is now. May the full truth about what happened to their loved ones emerge one day. And may the perpetrators one day rot in jail, not for temporarily being at odds with the state, but for destroying the lives of ordinary citizens.
Fréderike Geerdink is an independent journalist. Follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her weekly newsletter Expert Kurdistan.