On the night of July 15, Turkey lived through one of the most important turning points of its history. The coup attempt led by the FETÖ member military officers in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), was thwarted primarily thanks to the unyielding attitude and the bravery of the Turkish people. This attempt was doomed to failure by many reasons apart from people’s attitude such as the president’s strong leadership, the government’s decisive attitude, the support from political parties, the fact that a significant section of the TSK did not support this movement and even opposed it, the police siding with the legitimate government despite severe losses, and the media siding with democracy. The nature of this attempt, why it failed, or its consequences will be discussed at length and in detail in the upcoming period. However, we can already say it is an undeniable fact that FETÖ is an armed terrorist organization, which can be as heedless as to attack civilians and the parliament with planes and tanks, and it can work in sly and dangerous methods to the point of capturing commanders by using their aide-de-camps and executive assistants. Following this, everybody understood that the judicial processes must react accordingly and take all necessary measures to remove the members or supporters of this structure from all levels of government.
FETÖ’s Judicial Organization
It is a known fact that one of the most important areas that must be purged of the FETÖ organization the judicial system, where for years they have made vigorous efforts to be organized. This structure, used every possible method from stealing exam questions to blackmail and slander, and succeeded considerably in its organization and in capturing important, critical spots in the justice system such as in the TSK, and Security. Its role in cases such as Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) showed the power of this structure in the judicial system, and especially after the 2010 Constitutional referendum, they controlled almost all of the judicial system through the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). In their active period, they used the judicial system in parallel with their organizational purposes, completely against the Constitution, and the law, as a weapon and began a purge to clear the way for their own members in the TSK and many other institutions. Later, they began to target the government and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) with the Feb. 7 MİT crisis, and the December 17-25 attempts. At the beginning of 2014, however, with the government’s efforts the effectiveness of FETÖ in the justice sector was severely impeded. Most recently, with the HSYK elections in 2014, FETÖ’s operational power was taken from them, and it was realized that they won a majority of almost half of the judicial system. Judges and prosecutors from all walks of life, who had closely witnessed the activities of this structure, which operated with a tight hierarchy and a secret agenda within the judicial system, acting irrespective of any legal principles and rules and only in accordance with the demands from their organization, put their political views and differences aside and came together under the Platform of the Judicial Unity (Yargıda Birlik Grubu) and won the elections. Members in this group’s list, who were known to be rightist, leftist, conservative, nationalist or Alevi, were elected as HSYK members and have exhibited a successful and pluralist administration for the past two years. Turning into an association later on, the Association of Judicial Unity (Yargıda Birlik Derneği), the platform should be examined as an example of a successful reaction to the same danger we are facing now. This association is the symbol of the union of judges and prosecutors who lived and learned that the existence of FETÖ is a danger which should be eliminated beyond all political differences and struggles. It is necessary to put away daily political debates and cooperate in order to eliminate this structure which has become a problem to national security, a threat to all rights and freedoms, and to our constitutional order.
Effective and Certain Measures Will Be Taken
As the danger within and to the judicial system has been known for a long time, after the July 15 coup attempt, right after the operations against the armed forces, and even simultaneously with them, dismissals and investigations of FETÖ members in the judicial system started. Even the operations concerning the Police Department, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, took place after the ones aimed at the judicial system. Around three thousand judges and prosecutors were dismissed and taken into custody from the Supreme Court, the HSYK, the Court of Cassation, and, in the first place, the Council of State. It is likely that this number will increase further. It should also be pointed out that these people were not identified in one day. As per its constitutional duty, the HSYK took action concerning these people before, and in accordance with the means of the current legislation and the available information their place of duty was changed, and they were given inactive duties. It was a known fact that this was the main objective of the legal regulation taken a month ago, and there were other endeavors going on. However, we can say that from now on more effective and certain measures will be taken. Lastly, the investigations and prosecutions conducted within this period should be mentioned. Although, there have been extraordinary conditions since July 15, the processes of investigation and prosecution have not been left to personal initiatives; they are conducted in accordance with the decisions of competent judges and prosecutors, and within the framework of the key provisions protecting the rights and freedoms of the Criminal Procedure. Even during the first days when there were still risks of a coup and of conflicts, the custody and arrest decisions were made by authorized judicial bodies, legal periods were abided, and the necessary forensics processes were executed. In other words, despite the extraordinary conditions, the fundamental principles of the democratic constitutional order were and continue to be maintained.