Epilogue of The Imam's Army by Ahmet Sik
Journalist and author Ahmet Sik was arrested in Turkey on March 3, 2011, as was award-winning journalist Nedim Sener. An international outcry followed, fueled by concerns that the arrests were in political retaliation for their writings. Many observers feel that the charges against both of them are highly improbable. Indeed, the Ergenekon investigation is now being viewed more and more as a political circus.
At the time of his arrest, Ahmet Sik was working on a book entitled "Imam'in Ordasu" ("The Imam's Army"). Here, "imam" refers to Fethullah Gulen, whose followers (the "cemaat," or religious community, a.k.a. Gulen Movement) are the main subject of the book. On March 24, 2011, Turkish police raided the office of Radikal, a Turkish national newspaper, in an attempt to eradicate all copies of the book, which they allege is an "illegal organizational document."
As Sik was being arrested, he shouted "Whoever touches [them] burns," referring to the Gulen Movement.
Many Americans would like to know what Ahmet Sik, Nedim Sener and other arrested Turkish journalists and authors have to say about Fethullah Gulen, and it is extremely unfortunate that their writings are not yet available in English.
Ahmet Sik's book draft, which is not entirely ready for publication, was made available on the internet after his arrest and the attempts to destroy the manuscript. Below is a translation of his Epilogue.
We hope for the quick release of Ahmet Sik, Nedim Sener, and many other imprisoned journalists and authors.
from The Imam's Army by Ahmet Sik
After the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, people started to talk more frequently about the existence of a “Fethullahçı” (Fethullahist) organization in the bureaucracy, especially in the police force. When Ergenekon investigations and lawsuit were launched and several soldiers ended up to be defendants in this lawsuit, the police force conducting investigations was denounced bitterly. Investigations were launched in the middle of 2007, first into the circles that were one way or another linked – directly or indirectly – to the Ergenekon case and then spread to almost all segments of society and since the beginning of the investigations we started to hear more about the alleged Fethullahist organization within the police force. The critics of the police actions claimed that they were in fact launched due to social or political identities of individuals who were declared suspects and then charged or because such individuals were “radical seculars” or “obsessed modernists” who were against the ruling AKP party. The criticism directed against the police force and public prosecutors, especially Zekeriya Öz, always had the same motive: Fethullahism.
We do not know for certain whether the names, persons or establishments that are at the center of the allegations do indeed belong to the Gülen Movement. However, considering the existing situation, it won’t be wrong to conclude that the Ergenekon investigation and lawsuit is a means that the AKP is using to restrict freedoms. This investigation and lawsuit are important in terms of reflecting on the power of the Gülen community, which controls the police force and aims to maintain its monopoly in the education market, including courses and scholarships, against some competitors (ÇYDD – Association for Support of Modern Life, ÇEV – Contemporary Education Foundation), attempting to eliminate them by initiating investigations against them and using their exponentially growing financial power to expand their market share.
Although there are people suggesting that these communities are religious NGOs, it is a controversial designation for the Gülen Movement. With the investments that began in the 1970s, especially in the education sector, the Golden Generation that was expected to become the administrator of the future occupied bureaucratic positions now, in the first decade of the 21st century, exactly as scheduled. With the facts we have, can we really suggest that this community, present at every level of bureaucracy, especially in the police force and Turkish Armed Forces, although we do not know yet to what extent, is non-governmental? On the other hand, can we believe that they have no desire to govern the state to advance their beliefs and have no such intentions? Above all, no one denies that the greatest shadow on the Ergenekon investigations and lawsuits, which displays one of the most important realities of revenge exacted in the country, is the Gülen Movement’s infiltration into the police force and judiciary. For this reason alone, and fully aware of people with ideological expectations, if the only ray of hope for those who live in this fearful climate is to rely on the military coup, the only notion that comes to mind is the expression “between two fires”.
The initial point of this book was based on this situation. Besides that, one of the reasons for publishing this book was the conviction of Hanefi Avcı, one of the well-known chiefs of police in Turkey, who found himself behind bars after publishing his book describing the Gülen Movement’s organization within the police force, including some accusations about the community. As a matter of fact, even before Avcı, many well-known influential and important officers were suspended from the police force, the so-called “Castle of the [Gülen] Community" through similar tricks. Sabri Uzun, who served as the head of the intelligence department for six years, Emin Arslan, a renowned secular Atatürkist, Faruk Ünsal, Orhan Özdemir, Mustafa Gülcü and Celal Uzunkaya, famous for their close relations with the sects, and finally Hanefi Avcı, who was a far-right nationalist in the past and who once was closely related to Fethullah Gülen community were let go one by one from their positions. These individuals had different backgrounds but what all of them had in common was that they all were officers at the Intelligence, Smuggling or Organized Crime Departments of the Directorate of General Security or acted as deputy director generals responsible for these departments. The infamous book that resulted in Avcı’s arrest helped us understand to a certain extent why these individuals were relieved from their duties and appointed to rather insignificant positions. We cannot determine at this point whether or not the facts listed in this book are true. However, this book is a guide for you to understand to what extent these allegations are accurate. More importantly, this book is an important reference to assess Ergenekon investigations and developments that followed them.
In our opinion, the Ergenekon investigations once again caught the state within the state in action, just as it happened earlier in the so-called Susurluk case, but now, almost all segments of the society view these investigations as a mere illusion. Kurds, Islamists, socialists, social democrats that resent nationalism with some reservation who were all oppressed or victimized by the military once, or those who had some conscience became mute when faced with this illusion. We were led to believe that this illusion was in fact the reality by making certain defendants who were known to be guilty, a part of these investigations. In fact, neither the state within the state was questioned nor there was an intention of getting even with it. We are sure that some of these defendants are in fact guilty, but unfortunately, none of them have been tried yet for their alleged crimes. For example, eight bags of JITEM (Intelligence and Anti-Terror Gendarmerie) documents found with Arif Doğan that bore evidence to the unlawful operations executed in the name of the state were classified as those of “Vital Interest to the State” and banned from public eye. Worst of all, although public prosecutors launched investigations against anyone who was in opposition to the [Gülen] community or AKP and included them in docket files of Ergenekon, KCK (Union of Kurdistan Communities) or Revolutionary Quarters, they have not yet acted in any way on this official correspondence that substantiate the notion of unlawful acts committed in the South East war zone. Even though every indictment in the Ergenekon case made a reference to the notorious murder of Hrant Dink, the investigation into his murder was never made part of the Ergenekon trial and no progress was made in this murder investigation apart from associating it with the defendants in hand.
Any member of the judiciary who touched the [Gülen] community in some way were brought into line with the help of the media, just as it happened to the Erzincan Chief Prosecutor İlhan Cihaner. The developments with series of anonymous letters, so-called admissible confessions and secret witnesses looked as if they followed simple scripts written by the same hand. The way these developments were covered by the pro-community media and served as a base for further investigations made things even more confusing. Hanefi Avcı was one of the most prominent figures that denounced these developments, and he ended up in prison just like everybody else who openly opposed the [Gülen] community. When allegations made by Avcı were sidelined and a discussion started on why these allegations were made, much of the media opted to keep silence. Those who broke the silence proved to be quite skillful in diversions. The most dramatic example was the attitude towards Hanefi Avcı’s allegations by some media outlets who published the “breaking news” about Ergenekon investigations. I wonder what these “colleagues” would have written if the word “community” would have been replaced with “Ergenekon” in Avcı’s allegations.
Today, victims of yesterday are getting even with their oppressors, but we are yet to see whether there will be time when some start getting even for what is happening now. The purpose of this book is not to clear the names of the accused police officers or Ergenekon suspects. All we wanted was to show what happens to those who are bold enough to say, “The King is naked”. Unfortunately, there are only very few media outlets and journalists who are doing this. And those who do have been silenced down or censored through various financial or ideological justifications.
For this reason, the number of books written about Ergenekon and similar investigations has lately been on the rise. Along with the authors who write books because they cannot report news, there are also biased books and books that consist of compilation of “news on demand”. It seems, however, that if the allegations of a “white collar tutelage” increase in scope, not writing books but having access to the reader may become rather difficult in a country where no news can be reported.