Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fethullah Gulen's Legal Journey: A Political Trial

(Video Duration: 7 mins. 59 secs.)

Dr. James C. Harrington
James C. Harrington, Ph.D.
The Hizmet Movement in the Turkish Context was the topic of the third panel at the "International Conference on Gulen Movement: Paradigms, Projects, Aspirations" held at the International House of University of Chicago in 2010.

In the panel, Dr. James C. Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Institute from University of Texas presented his paper titled Strengthening Religious Freedom, Free Speech, and Democracy in Turkey: The Political Trial of Fethullah G├╝len. Below are some excerpts from Dr. Harrington's presentation:

The dynamic of the trial is really fascinating; and it is even more fascinating because at the end of the day Gulen wins, which is highly unusual for political trials. I mean, all we have to do is look at Socrates, Jesus, the Inquisition, the women at Salem, John Scopes,… those religious/political trials that happened in our history.

…The other thing I really came to appreciate was enormous sacrifice a lot of people have made in this change that is going on; these amazing changes that is going on in Turkey that has resulted in the referendum of the September 12th changing the constitution enhancing civil liberties and human rights. So, I have great respect; many people have died, many people are in exile, many people are in prison for a long time, and I had the honor of meeting some of them.

…The Gulen Movement -in a sense- represents, I think, the challenge between Anatolia bourgeoisie emerging and the old Istanbul bourgeoisie; or somebody told me that between the 'White Turks' and the 'Black Turks'. This is a serious challenge to the status quo that essentially was unregulated and was basically dipping its fingers or its hands into the Treasury and running this life the way to run its life.

…You have the whole 'deep state problem' that we see if you have come up all of the documents released to the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer indictments. The interplay between all these entities I have just mentioned, and the tight military industrial complex, and how the Gulen Movement threatens that because it's a popular movement that nobody can get its hands on, in the way that we think about organizational stuff in the United States. And that's a "threat" because it can't control it, the people see it happening in front of them: the establishment, the economic order, and these are threat to them. And there are all sorts of other things going on too: interference with the drug trade that has become part of the deep state, or trafficking, or why is that the PKK does what it does when it does -just steering up violence in order to keep the repression going in order to keep the reaction to support the military to get more conflict; all that dynamic goes on. I think all leads to the prosecution of Fethullah Gulen.

…One of the lawyers says to Gulen one day in Izmir "why don't you start sueing these people for defamation", and Gulen says 'No, no. I'm not like that'. Anyway it happened; the good thing is that the lawyers brought some 300 cases altogether all across Turkey, [then] they got huge number of judgments in the courts for defamation. They were able to use later on in criminal trial to show that the allegations brought by the prosecutor were not true.

…OK, what was the 'wildcard'? The wildcard was the European Union, the accession agreements. Turkey was bound and determined to come into the EU and as a prerequisite to come into EU it has to change its legal system. Changes in the legal system meant abolition of the State Security Court, meant allowing religious freedom, and it meant ensuring civil liberties. It took Turkey a long time to come into compliance with those requirements and accession agreements. It happens during the Gulen trial, that's why I called it the wildcard, that is why Gulen wins the trial in the end.

…The indictment is awful. All of the stuff, all of this trash stuff that was up here earlier: the secret cardinal, I mean all that stuff is in the indictment. And it looks like a cut-and-paste job actually that it ended up xeroxing or something. It is amazing lack of integrity in bringing forward this criminal prosecution, but anyway he does, and before he files the indictment he leaks it to the press; Gulen was indicted as a terrorist. All the evidence, I mean this, clearly fabricated but it is there to create smoke -when there is smoke, there is fire.

…And of course the acquittal comes in the appeals court in the same time Gulen was acknowledged as one of the Top 20 Intellectual Leader in the World, so it was a good month for Gulen. But it was even better the next month, because parallel to this -and if you don't believe in the deep state, you have to hear this- when Gulen was in the United States, he applied to be a religious scholar and the U.S. government said 'No, you're not a religious scholar. What do you mean picture with the Pope, who took that picture?'. I am not kidding! You ought to read some of the United States Justice Department pleadings, just absurd! Anyway, the judge at one point gets so fed up with this nonsense that he calls the lawyers in, as judges do when they get hacked off, and say 'I want whoever is making that decision in front of me in 10 minutes.' The lawyer for the government says 'Your honor, this decision is coming higher than the Homeland Security. It is coming so high that I cannot get that person in front of you.' So it narrows it down -no Bush didn't think about this-, so that narrows it down to either Cheney or Rumsfeld. And the judge grants religious scholar status. Two days after this happens, Gulen's attorneys made a decision not to release it to the press, because of the "CIA agent" thing, you know, and just let it happen. Well two days later, it was on the Turkish press; so, somebody from inside the U.S. Government leaked it.

Famous human rights lawyer Clarance Jarrell used to say that 'The law is the bastard child of the justice.' He was absolutely right. But in this sense, in this one instance in history, I'm to have written the book about it justice and law coincided, and Turkey is better off in terms of religious freedom, in terms of democracy and in terms of human rights, thanks to this trial.

Related Video: Fethullah Gulen acquitted