HON. M. RECAI KUTAN
CHAIRMAN OF THE FAZILET (VIRTUE) PARTY
This Speech Was Given On The Occasion Of The Closure Of The Fazilet Party
The Constitutional Court Of Turkey
The 22nd Of June 2001, In The Turkish Grand National Assembly
The case against Fazilet Party (FP) has concluded after more than two years of examination, and the constitutional court has decided to close the party down. This is a court verdict and will certainly be implemented. We would have liked this decision to be a decision undisputed by the public conscience. But the result is the contrary; any objective and reasonable person assesses the decision as a wrong and unjust decision.
Moreover, the closure of FP cannot only be assessed as a wrong and unjust decision. It is actually a big strike against the uniting philosophy of the republic, against the multi-party system and against the EU candidacy of the country.
The current constitution and corresponding rules are surely important. On the other hand, it is well known by everyone that we have some problems in the application of our democracy and the rule of law. That is why Turkey acknowledged the existence of such problems in her National Program (TNP) for the adoption of EU acquis and promised to adopt universal standards of rights.
The criteria for democracy, human rights, freedoms and rule of law as common values of humanity have also been collated in the Universal Human Rights Charter and in the European Human Rights Charter (EHRC) as well.
Therefore, the excuse “current constitution and corresponding rules” is not a valid excuse, for, Turkey is a signatory to the European Human Rights Charter and her signature was approved by the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) to become an integral part of our judicial system. Hence, according to article 90 of the constitution, no one can make a claim against the charter before the constitutional court. Furthermore, for the very same reason, decisions given by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) are binding for us.
As a matter of fact, the Turkish President and many such honourable high ranking judges as the head of the constitutional court and the head of court of appeal made it clear in their various speeches that the EHRC and decisions of the ECHR should be implemented in our judicial system.
Every objective and reasonable person in this country, whether they support our views or not, are disturbed by the decision of closing down FP. This decision is not only disturbing our public conscience but also a wrong application in terms of the universal legal standards that we are trying to achieve.
These are not only our opinions. This is also the opinion of the whole world. It is the opinion of the EU, which we are trying to join. The Copenhagen criteria are dictating these principles. It is these very principles we signed in Helsinki when we were nominated as a candidate to the EU. The TNP is produced for the very same reasons. Promises were given in the TNP for the very same reasons. The adoption commission represented by the five parties of the TGNA studied the constitution within the framework of TNP and decided to amend 37 articles of it, including the Turkish election code, according to the EU standards. The result of the commission’s study was welcome by the EU.
Whilst many developments were achieved inside and outside the country, such decisions as the party closure do not match universal legal standards and democracy. This has also tainted the country’s plausible image, which had been presented to the free world.
Most of our distinguished judges claim that in cases especially relating to freedoms i.e. freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of organisation, the EHRC should be implemented. It is expected that supreme courts could consider such contemporary human rights charters or the ideas contained in them and make them exemplary. Decisions as this one, on the other hand, isolated from the realities of a modern free world, can never be accepted.
Many cases brought by our citizens against Turkey in the ECHR resulted in verdicts against Turkey. All previous party-closure decisions examined by the ECHR were found to violate the EHRC.
Therefore, someone ought to give an answer to the question of “where is Turkey heading?” If the answer is “contemporary civilisation”, then someone should point out that this is not the way to contemporary civilisation.
A totalitarian mentality does not fit contemporary civilisation. One-party systems and ideological states were left behind in the 1940s. No one has the right of taking Turkey back to the 1940s, nor is this.
Certain quarters in this country want a “one-party political system” or a “special multi-party political system” where all parties are similar to each other. The very same quarters also want uniform citizens. But, everyone knows that this is against the nature of humanity and societies. Variation and individuals are important in democracies. That is why freedom of expression and freedom of organisation are guarantied in democracies. That is also why political parties are indisputable pillars of democracies. No one can achieve a true democracy by only permitting one and the same ideology to be organised under different names. Parties should not only differ in name, but also in approach and ideology. Democratic countries do have various political parties with different ideologies.
We cannot cheat anybody, so let us be sincere and say, “At present there is no democracy in Turkey”. In our country there are two groups of people. The first are acting as if the country is democratic. The second are trying to establish a true democracy in the country.
The closure of FP is unjust. The decision of removing FP from the political arena is also an indication that no one is able to engage in free politics for a while in this country. The closure of FP is a big blow to the search of democracy and rule of law. Therefore, it is not only our problem, but also the problem of others who seek democracy in the country’s future. With this decision, the number of parties closed has increased to 40 and Turkey has become a political party cemetery.
Turkey cannot explain this decision to the free world with the same bashfulness as on previous occasions. In democracies, it is the people who should establish parties and close them.
The court will certainly give some justification for the verdict. A member of the constitutional court has rightly said that it was a political case. Moreover, everyone - whether they supported FP or not - will know in their own mind that this was a political case rather than a legal one.
Some of the statements and actions by the chief prosecutor when bringing this suit in the constitutional court indicate what sort of mentality lay behind this lawsuit. In the indictment of the chief prosecutor, FP was identified as a “blood-sucking vampire” and as a “malign metastasis tumour spread through a body”. Also, contrary to convention, the chief prosecutor gave a press conference to reveal the indictment before it was presented to the constitutional court.
Actually, FP was accused of rejecting a one-party system. Consequently, FP was closed because of its struggle for freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Apart from these realities, any justification is banal and like saying that “we have eyebrows on our eyes”.
If the consciences of the people of the country was consulted, we believe that the answer will be; “there is a lot left to be desired”.
FP struggled to uphold the hope of becoming a “honourable and great country” when Turkey had surrendered to corruption and was hit by economic crises.
It is us who represent the clean politics in this country. People, whether they supported us or not, have seen FP as a way out of the Turkish economic crisis. Again, it is us who represented services of first quality in local governments.
It was us who defended the rights of people in parliament as well as on the streets. It was us who put the articles against the interests of the people before the constitutional court to annul. It was our voice that spoke on behalf of people who are depressed because of economic crisis and totalitarian applications. Our problems were the problems of workers, civil servants, farmers, shopkeepers, industrialists, businessmen, pensioners and people in need.
FP had taken a big risk, and it was worth it for the people of our country. FP struggled for the democracy for every citizen without any prejudice. FP presented examples of tolerance, goodwill, peace and fraternity.
So, the question “what would have happened in the absence of FP” cannot be ignored…
In the absence of FP, an era full of corruption and thievery would have been left untouched.
In the absence of FP, many lies from the economic crisis to the foreign policies would have been presented as “in the national interest” or “the wisdom of government”.
In the absence of FP, no one would have realised that a democratic farce was being played under the pretence of “modernity”.
FP lifted the curtain and presented the realities. FP revealed the evil understanding, which exploited internal resources for many decades, which hindered democratisation for decades, which resisted granting equality to the people of this country.
Surely, this closure was the price for what we did for the people of this country.
Everyone should know it, and the history of politics should record these facts. Nobody can reasonably claim that we committed a crime. We had nothing to do with the corruption, thievery or robbing of people’s money. It was not us who misappropriated people’s money and sold banks to thieves in the middle of the night. Robbers, thieves, and the leaders of mafia gangs have never been in favour of us or have ever noted our names into their telephone diaries.
In this country, our political movement have defended development and welfare, rule of law, justice for everyone, respect for the beliefs of the people and fraternity. We accepted differences between us, as they benefit us. In this country, we proposed to protect the political rights of everyone irrespective of their beliefs, ethnicity, regional background and ideologies. We have never ever approved terror or violence. On the contrary, we have always been seen as assurers of peace and fraternity.
The claim of incitement against the republic is only a slander. We have only ever wanted article 2 of the constitution, which states the fundamental principles of the republic, to be interpreted and implemented according to universal standards. If universal standards are ignored, it will not be possible to achieve peace and happiness in the country. That is all we have said.
Whatever we said, we said it in public. No one has any right to attribute anything to us that we did not do or say. And no one should see himself or herself in a position of bestowing us some sort of legality.
The virtue and values, which distinguished FP, will not be exterminated by such closure decisions, which are not even accepted by the people of the country.
Everyone now knows that FP was not closed down due to the continuation of another banned party (!) or because of becoming a centre for certain criminal actions. It was closed down because of its defence of century-old values that keep the nation alive and united, and because of its principles, which carry those values together with universal values into the future.
FP was not closed down because of the continuation of another banned party. It was closed down because it represented the very same spirit that had struggled against an established gang of the one-party system ideology in previous decades.
I repeat, the source of legality, in this country, is the nation itself, and it is much more important to be open and legitimate in the hearts and conscience of the nation.
There will be many political parties in this country. Democracy will be established in this country. The country will be run by the representatives of the people. The rule of law, justice and human dignity will be upheld in this country. Many historical decisions are still upsetting the conscience of the people. This decision is also upsetting the people, and it was found to be unjust from the very moment it was announced. Not we, but those who are against democracy and justice will be assigned to the dustbin of history.
FP is neither a marginal party nor a think tank. It is a party of 6 million voters, which has roots in our nation’s history. We are still protesting against plunders, oppression, injustices and poverty. We will continue our struggle together with millions of our voters to overcome the understanding, which does not respect the values of the people, which oppresses their beliefs and freedoms, which hinders the dynamism of the nation and wants to establish a uniform society. We will never give up our aspirations, like increasing the welfare of the Turkish people, liberating them to live the way they want to and letting them live as a honourable citizen of the world.
We are neither ashamed nor anxious about the verdict given. In fact, this unjust decision shows the strength of our aspirations.
We believe that the people of Turkey will find a way to democracy, justice and fraternity to re-unify every one of us.
Now, I would like to address those who “cry crocodile tears” and those who say, “we have done what we can, but nothing has been achieved”. No way. You are not telling the truth. You have not used your authority given to you by the people at the right time and in the right way. You have not protected the wishes of the people. You were speechless against anti-democratic interventions. Worst of all, you wanted to get some political capital out of it, and that is why you procrastinated. This is, because you are not sincere for democracy, you are just playing with it. Without any doubt, you will be paying for this. The people of Turkey will give you what you deserve in the next general election.
Lastly, I would like to address our activists, members and voters. Our programme is an assurance of peace and happiness for our country and that was what we struggled and will continue to struggle for. You are the actual owner of this programme, because you raised it to this level. Day and night you went to the streets and into the villages, from door to door, to explain the matter to the people of Turkey. You have spent your own money for this cause.
I would like you to know that we have not done anything wrong. We have done nothing to be ashamed of. We have committed no crime. We have done nothing to feel sorry about.
Yes, our party was closed down, but we are not beaten and it is not finished yet. We have never lost our pride and honour. A real defeat is loosing one’s pride and honour. Thanks to God, none of us, myself and any of my colleagues, have done anything wrong or anything to loose your trust.
We have had only a few celebrations, but generally we have had to lament. This is not only peculiar to us; this is a general fate for people who seek rights and justice. Those who asked nothing in return for their love and affection have always met a very similar fate over thousands of years. It might look as if they were defeated. But, ironically, they stay on where oppressors loose and disappear one by one. We have dropped the jewels of a broken box at every corner of history. Now they pave the way for beauty.
Please, do not forget that it is only freedom fighters who can protect their honour and dignity. You are part of a great idea. This idea can never be restrained by verdicts of various courts. Members of such a great idea cannot be made to disappear by seasonal blows.
Of course, there is a danger. They will approach to you from your right and your left. They will whisper to you. They will say, “It was wrong”. They will tell you what to do and what not to do. They will tell you “it was because of him or her” and “it was because of this and that”. They will try to provoke you against each other. They will try to convince you that you are defeated. They will put a false solution forward and will say that you should compromise.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
You are members of a great idea and have passed through difficult times. But, beware of the most dangerous exam, which is subversion.
Again, the most difficult job for you will be to defeat this subversion.
Be sure that in spite of many difficulties, we have advanced quite a lot. Injustice and oppression cannot live on. I therefore advice you to be calm, patient and determined. Do not loose your temper, stay within the legal system, do not permit any rowdy actions, keep it up and remain mature. Do follow this advice. It is because of these virtues that we still exist and keep going. It is because of this quality that we emerge triumphant from even the most difficult situations.
If we combine our calmness, patience and determination, we will not be hurt.
We are sorry not because our party was closed down, but because our people are discontent and their happiness is being delayed.
In fact, all of these are formalities. The important thing is to keep the aspirations of the people like democracy, human rights and the rule of law alive.
The rushed decision of the court is being criticised by lawyers and intellectuals. Everyone is saying that there is no reason to close FP down. It is accepted unanimously that this decision does not serve the interests of the nation.
The nation will certainly achieve its goal of having democracy, justice, and the rule of law. Now we are more hopeful than any time before. We cry out with the lines of a great poem by Namik Kemal;
You cannot remove freedom by oppression and heresy
Try to remove the intelligence from humanity if you can.
We continue our struggle to have democracy established, to have the rule of law, to have human rights and freedoms respected, to protect the rights of the oppressed, to cease the torture and wrongdoing, to have a developed country and to have a happy welfare society in peace.
God Bless You All.
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