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Today’s Zaman reports on ‘Ruling through manipulation and provocation: the unwritten history of Turkey’

The article published below appeared in Today’s Zaman by Orhan Kemal Cengiz

November 27, 2009

Read this article on the website of Today’s Zaman.

The last 100 years in Turkey have been a history of provocations and manipulations. We have seen the same film again and again. These manipulations and provocations were carried out for different purposes.

One of the target groups was non-Muslims and people were provoked against this group in order to scare them away. These tactics were extremely successful; as a result of them, Turkey lost most of its non-Muslims. Look at the events of Sept. 6-7, 1955. Suddenly, “some news” began to be distributed through the local media claiming that Ataturk’s house in Selanik (Thessalonica), Greece, was bombed. We now know that the person who threw an explosive into the garden of Ataturk’s house was an employee of the Turkish intelligence service. Following this provocative news, a barbaric move targeting non-Muslims in Istanbul was carried out. It was so successful that thousands upon thousands of Christians and Jews left Turkey immediately after this incident.

Another category of provocation is to incite two different groups against each other. Alevis and Sunnis were pitted against each other on many different occasions. Before 1980, Alevis were massacred in Kahramanmaras and Corum. Ultranationalists were actively involved in these massacres. When you look at the details, it is so obvious that these two massacres were carefully planned and orchestrated. A secret hand was paving the way for the 1980 coup.

The third category is the assassination of some intellectuals and prominent figures. These were also done for different purposes. On some occasions, these people were killed to provoke the group they were affiliated with against another group. I believe some ultra-secularist figures were killed just for this particular purpose. Sometimes the target was a person who began to criticize the system. Some high-level bureaucrats, soldiers and politicians lost their lives in suspicious accidents one after another.

For foreigners, it is quite difficult to believe that so much manipulation and so many conspiracies could be carried out in a society. But this is our reality. Some elements were vital in creating this atmosphere. One was the media. In Turkey, the media played a dubious role. On the one hand, it turned a blind eye to the apparent illegal acts of the state. The western part of Turkey could never know what happened to Kurds in the eastern part of Turkey, for example. The other role of the media was to play an active role in the provocations and campaigns of manipulation. I already gave you an example above and you will read another example below. Another factor in the creation of this atmosphere has been the absolute impunity of the perpetrators of the crimes. The judiciary always turns a blind eye when they sense that a deep state element has somehow been involved in the “incident” concerned. The human factor was also extremely important. The Turkish society, for several reasons — lack of self criticism, ignorance of past events, ignorance of the real dynamics of the system and so on — has always been utilized in order to provoke different segments of this society.

If you have all these factors and if you have some deep state elements within the state which are doggedly determined to rule the country, manipulation and provocation become a part of your life.

Below you will read my analysis of some provocations and attacks targeting Christians in Turkey. It was published in the Zaman daily on Nov. 22. And it has been kindly translated into English by the Today’s Zaman staff. I guess you already read about the “Cage plan” in which non-Muslims were targeted for assassinations and attacks. In the paragraphs below I am trying to travel back to look at today’s incidents.

Since we continually forget, since we bury ourselves only in our own troubles, since we imagine ourselves as the most precious object in the museum of victimization, since we easily grow hostile towards “others” and since we are easily “manipulated,” such targeting of “the other” happens.

Between 2004 and 2005, there was a sudden and large hunt for missionaries in Turkey. The circulating argument was that missionaries had infiltrated every part of the country and that we were losing our country and nation. Certain media organizations, particularly the Dogan group, started an active “fight” against missionary activities. The Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) prepared and distributed a series of “reports” on missionary activities in Turkey. Later, its president, Sinan Aygun, was indicted in the Ergenekon trial, but no one paid any attention to the active campaign his organization was conducting. No one focused on “Misyonerler Arasinda Alti Ay” (Six Months Among Missionaries), a book written by Ergun Poyraz, another Ergenekon defendant, which was written before his books “Musa’nin Gulu” (The Rose of Moses) and “Musa’nin Cocuklari” (The Children of Moses) — which portrayed Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Abdullah Gul as part of an international Jewish conspiracy — although “Misyonerler Arasinda Alti Ay” was a precursor to subsequent media attacks against missionaries. When Sevgi Erenerol, the press officer of the Turkish Orthodox Church, an important meeting place for Ergenekon members, gave seminars on missionary activities to the members of the National Security Council (MGK), this went unnoticed. When Kemal KerinCsiz, who is now in jail on charges of being an Ergenekon member, brought legal actions against missionaries, this was not much discussed. Why do you think Ergenekon was so interested in the missionary activities? How can you turn the religious Muslims of this country into nationalists? Missionaries were a perfect tool for this goal. Missionary scapegoats were turned into tools of manipulation for Ergenekon.

Organizations of lumpen youth

In my opinion, this intensive anti-Christian campaign was intended to also lay the groundwork for the moves that would follow. The murder of priest Andrea Santoro, the assassination of Hrant Dink and the killing of the missionaries in Malatya… Place Ergenekon’s “lumpen youth organization” concept side-by-side with the “suspected killer” profile in these murders; all of these murders were committed by the same “killer type”: ultranationalist, very young, dispossessed and connected to the deep state …

With these murders, the pro-Committee of Union and Progress (Ittihat ve Terrakki) Ergenekon wanted to hit a triple target. First, it wanted to give a “strong” message to the non-Muslims in Turkey, which is an extension of the Ittihat mentality’s policy of the “de-Christianization of Turkey.” Second, it wanted to tell the world and the “secularist” groups in Turkey that Christians were being killed because there was an “Islamist” party in power. Third, it wanted to seriously block Turkey’s European Union process. Of course, here, we speak by looking at the results. In my opinion, the original plan was much bloodier and provided for many more murders; several developments foiled these plans. Other “missionary” murders that were to be committed by the killers with the “same profile” in Samsun, Antalya and Diyarbakir according to these plans had been quietly foiled thanks to successful police operations. Another important development that further thwarted these plans was that unlike the murder of Santoro, the cases launched in connection with the killing of missionaries in Malatya and the murder of Dink were closely monitored by lawyers who are human rights advocates.

The recently discovered action plan called “Cage” refers to the murder of Santoro, Dink and the missionaries in Malatya as “operations.” The cage plan demanded that these “operations” be conducted in a more systematic and planned manner. They want to re-market the “black propaganda” that “Muslims” kill Christians. As I have noted many times in this column, Ergenekon is not an organization involved only in coup attempts. One of its feet is in Cyprus and the other is in Azerbaijan. One of its hands is JITEM and the other is the Special Warfare Department. They organize conspiracies against the Gulen movement on the one hand and they slaughter Christians on the other. We will continue to live in the “cage” as long as we fail to see the whole picture and realize the injustices being committed against others and ensure that those in charge are called to account. As Ahmet Altan concisely put it: “If you cannot tear down the walls in your minds, if you don’t become friends with each other and if you don’t combine forces, you will continue to be targets. If we will be free, we will be free together. If we will remain prisoners, we will do so together.” Come and let us tear down this cage together.

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