‘SWEAR ON A GUN AND LOVE TO THE POINT OF DEATH!’
By Bulent Kenes
Today’s Zaman, Turkey
Feb 12 2007
Since daily Yeni Þafak rose to prominence with its courageously
published news reports during the Feb. 28 process (1997-2002) —
when the military bureaucracy eliminated the elected parliament of
the Saadet Party, thereby clogging the channels of civil politics and
humiliating the majority of society by denigrating their conservative
views, and when the most egregious instances of corruption dragged
Turkey into the most serious economic crises in its history due to the
period’s notorious unaccountability – that same newspaper has recently
been preparing to put its signature to again a big journalism event.
With the fog surrounding the murder of Armenian-Turkish journalist
Hrant Dink still not dissapating, the paper is publishing news reports
that the seeds of more potential murders have been planted and thus
is reviving the courageous journalism it engaged in the past.
If Turkey’s history of democratization is ever written in the real
sense, undoubtedly Yeni Þafak’s efforts and hard work, along with
those of few papers like Zaman, will not be overlooked in the writing
of this history.
As you might remember, at that time influential circles with
a military-bred mindset — despite outwardly having a civilian
appearance — along with many of our colleagues acted in complicity
with the military and aided it in blotting out freedoms. The latest
development Yeni Þafak covered is a bit different than this, however.
Some people are again in civilian garb, but this time they are either
soldiers or retired soldiers.
I’m talking about the activities of the Association of Kuvayý Milliye
(National Forces), founded and presided over by former Col. Mehmet
Fikri Karadað. The things they did at the opening ceremony of the
association’s Antalya branch led to a shiver running down the spine
of many. I’m talking about an event that one might think could only
happen in backward countries where extreme forms of nationalism are
According to news reports, the former colonel swore in the members
by having them take an oath of allegiance on a gun and on the Qur’an.
The wording of the oath possesses characteristics that could blow up
Turkey’s atmosphere of peace, which still is unable to be destroyed
despite the existence of certain problems. The oath begins with
these racist words: "I’m a Turk, son of a Turk, who doesn’t have
‘pretenders’ in his ancestors, and born from a Turkish mother and
a Turkish father…" This defies Ataturk’s famous motto, "How happy
is he who says he’s a Turk," which doesn’t place any emphasis on the
Before they took the oath, Karadað told the members: "There is
death and killing for this cause! Or else there will be regret and
embarrassment before our children!" There are slogans written in the
hall where the swearing-in ceremony took place giving the impression
of an armed gang with archaic nationalistic and racist views rather
than an activity of a lawful civil association. The slogans read
"Kuvayý Milliye never forgives!" "Kuvayý Milliye doesn’t leave the
reckoning for the oppressed to the hereafter!"
These people, who think they love this country more than anyone else
— to the point of death — are attempting to take upon themselves
the responsibilities of the state, with some of the most rudimentary
fascist remarks under the shadow of guns and also by abusing our
sacred scripture, the Qur’an, for their own purposes.
What we are encountering is a former officer who dares to try to work
as a savior in a civil sphere, apparently being unable to leave behind
his "armed days." This pathological case reminds me of a character in
our Nobel Prize-winning writer Orhan Pamuk’s novel "Snow," where an old
actor attempts to pursuit racist plans, having failed to attract the
public attention he long sought. However, Karadað’s case is neither
fictitious nor it is played on stage.
Karadað is playing a very dangerous real game over the foundations
of social peace.
Having seen this, one cannot help thinking what sort of illegal acts
Karadað, though now officially a civilian, might have perpetrated
while he was still in his military position, which had allowed him to
use weapons. In this regard, I’m sure that it would be very beneficial
to inspect the former colonel’s past and present scope of duties.
Now, let’s leave history and return to the present time. What else
could be more alarming than this? How is it that public prosecutors
in Turkey fail to take action in the face of such gang formations —
similar to white supremacists in the United States — which damage
our country’s unity and integrity while claiming to preserve it? Or
do we no longer have such prosecutors in this country? What are they
waiting for? Do they have to wait for the Karadað-led gang formation
to start killing the 13,500 people they declared to be traitors,
as in the Dink case, to launch a legal process against them?
Having the authority to take action without prior permission from a
higher authority, it is hard to understand why these prosecutors prefer
to simply watch such actions that are designed to unravel the social
fabric of our culture of tolerance and mutuality. Does someone need
to die, or must a massacre be perpetrated, before they take action?
Somebody must demonstrate that a state still exists in this country
by stopping the actions of these destructive "country-saviors" who
swear by guns and swear to kill or be killed. And of course, this
"somebody" should be bold prosecutors within the justice system,
which is part of the legal foundation of this country.