"ARE YOU THAT BLOODTHIRSTY?"
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) as an extension of terrorist organization PKK.
"In the past, the terrorist organization used to send messages via its own illegal media organs. Nowadays, a political party is acting as the spokesperson of the organization," he said.
The prime minister also noted that BDP had an opportunist and a "vote hunter."
"Are the death of young people and their killing others considered humane acts just because you want to collect votes for June 12 elections? How can you think of getting votes by provoking the country and setting the streets on fire? Are you that bloodthirsty?" Erdoğan said.
PROMISE FOR DEMOCRACY FROM SOLDIERS
Turkish President Abdullah Gül arrived Thursday in Cairo to hold talks with officials as Egypt's prime minister unexpectedly resigned, three weeks after a popular uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
The resignation of Ahmed Shafiq sparked celebrations from protesters who had been demanding a purge of the remnants of Mubarak's regime, Agence France-Presse reported. The country's military rulers said he would be replaced by Essam Sharaf, a former transport minister who joined the rallies in Cairo's Tahrir Square that led to Mubarak's resignation on Feb. 11.
Gül said Egypt's military rulers should allow a quick and transparent transition to meet the demands for democracy from the Egyptian people.
"The transition process is the best way to meet the expectations of the people," Gül told a group of journalists aboard his plane before arriving in Cairo, where he was expected to hold talks with military leaders and political groups, according to a Reuters report. "[The process] should not take too long a time," he said.
"We have come (to Egypt) to share our experience and our expectations, with sincerity, in these critical moments," he added.
Gül's visit aims to demonstrate solidarity with the Egyptian state and people; the president is also expected to share views about the transition period with Egyptian officials.
Gül, who was accompanied by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, met Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, that head of the military council that has taken control in Egypt, Anatolia news agency reported.
The president was also expected to hold talks with political reform campaigner Mohamed El Baradei and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who has yet to decide whether to run for the Egyptian presidency.
Leaders of the 18-day uprising that forced out Mubarak had been pressing the military to fire Shafiq, arguing that a prime minister sworn in by the ousted leader should not stay in office. They also argued that the Shafiq's cabinet was filled with figures from the old regime.
The protestors also want Mubarak's National Democratic Party dissolved along with the hated State Security Agency blamed for some of the worst human-rights violations during Mubarak's rule. Other demands include the prosecution of security officials behind the deaths of protesters and the release of political prisoners, The Associated Press reported.
Turkey repeatedly urged the Egyptian military to swiftly transfer power to an elected government. In February, a statement from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's office also called for a swift transition to "a constitutional democracy" through elections. Erdoğan supported anti-regime protestors and called on Mubarak to leave during the early days of the Jan. 25 uprising.
Gül said Wednesday that Egypt was Turkey's close friend, adding that he wanted Egypt to emerge from this period stronger. Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, erupted in mass protests in January 2011 inflamed by decades of smoldering grievances against Mubarak's rule.
After 18 days of angry protests, Mubarak resigned and turned over all power to the military on Feb. 11, ending 30 years in power.
OPPOSITION LEADERS, LAWYERS AND COLLEAGUES FAULT AT NEW RAIDS
The police raids on 16 homes in Ankara and Istanbul, including those of journalists and a former intelligence officer, have been slammed by journalists, lawyers and opposition politicians as an "illegal" attempt to silence critics.
Turkish police conducted the raids on Thursday as part of the ongoing Ergenekon case, an investigation into an alleged gang accused to plotting to topple the government.
"The searches are against the law. The search warrant does not state what the individuals are being accused of," said Ankara Bar Association head Metin Feyzioğlu, who held a press conference in front of one of the houses during the police raid. He said this lack of detail makes the documents illegal and put everyone in danger of being searched without cause.
"If journalists' houses and offices are searched in the early hours of the morning without a concrete reason, this shows the [state of] democracy in Turkey must be questioned," said Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).
The current situation is "ridiculous and tragic," said journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, noting that Ahmet Şık, one of the journalists whose homes were searched, had been instrumental in opening the Ergenekon case in the first place. The diaries mentioned in Şık's "Coup Diaries," a story for weekly Nokta in 2007 that led to the magazine being shut down, were among the key evidence that led to the investigation, Mavioğlu said.
It is a very "immoral accusation to place Ahmet Şık next to the 'deep state' and Ergenekon," said Mavioğlu, a journalist with daily Radikal and co-author with Şık of a two-volume book about the Ergenekon case.
Speaking to the Daily News while in front of Şık's house as the search continued, he said he can not compare the situation to anything but McCarthyism.
The "deep state" is an alleged shadow organization of state officials and members of the military within the state. Though many people, including presidents, have claimed its existence, it has never been exactly defined. Some claim the alleged Ergenekon gang is another name for the deep state.
Daily Hürriyet columnist İsmet Berkan told the Daily News on Thursday that he does not have enough information to speak on the recent raids, but added: "Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık are people I know very closely. [Şık] is among the people who uncovered Ergenekon. I want to think this is a joke."
Though both journalists have criticized the police and prosecutors running the Ergenekon investigation, these criticisms were not against the idea of the investigation itself, but the fact that its efforts have not been sufficient, Berkan said.
The investigation is "a conspiracy" against Şık, the secretary-general of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK, of which the journalist is a member, said in a written statement that accused the ruling Justice and Development Party of "suppressing the opposition with conspiracy theories."
"Ahmet Şık is performing exemplary honest journalism, sharing his research with the public without being suppressed by or being afraid of the oppression and threats of the ruling administration," DİSK Secretary-General Tayfun Görgün said in the statement. He added that Şık was working on a book about an alleged organization within the police related to the Fethullah Gülen religious community and theorized that is why the attempt was made to connect the journalist to the Ergenekon case.
"Those who are not close to the government can't survive in the media. Media members are living in fear," said Ahmet Abakay, president of the Contemporary Journalists Association, or ÇGD. "The move is a threat and intimidation against government critics."
Minister of Internal Affairs Beşir Atalay told journalists Thursday afternoon that the searches were "a decision made by the judiciary. The police were meeting the judiciary's demands. It would be wrong to say anything more. Turkey is a state of law."
President Abdullah Gül echoed Atalay's statements, saying, "The decision was made by the court and the prosecutors" and declining to comment further.
CHP deputy leader Sezgin Tanrıkulu challenged the idea that Turkey is a state of law, saying such a claim cannot be made in a country where people face the threat of having their homes torn apart and every detail of their personal lives invaded. "Anyone outside the AKP's circle is at risk of being labeled a member of a terrorist organization," he said.
The Ergenekon case has strayed from its course and turned into a method for the government to silence people who oppose it, CHP group deputy chairman Akif Hamzaçebi said in a separate press conference that he held specifically to address the raids.
"They want to silence the media. Turkey is already 138th among all countries based on press freedom. Such incidents will only force press freedom to recede even further," Hamzaçebi said.
"Journalists keep documents and information and hold talks on the telephone. It is their job. But you create a crime element from this," said Ercan İpekçi, the president of the Turkish Journalists Union, or TGS. "In the 1970s, journalists were arrested for making propaganda for communism. They are now detained for making propaganda for terror organizations."
The AKP is creating its own police state, CHP chief Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said Wednesday, before the searches took place. "We are headed toward a future where the people are scared and uncertain what will happen to those who oppose," he said. "Many journalists are in prison. Media corporations that try to remain independent are being given billions of dollars in unwarranted tax fines."
OCALAN 'PEACE PLAN' MADE PUBLIC BY EUROPEAN COURT
As the country's president affirmed that Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcallan would be staying in his İmralı Island jail cell for the foreseeable future, a top European court stepped in to protect some of his rights.
The European Court of Human Rights has intervened to deliver a strategic plan to the lawyers of the imprisoned PKK leader, 18 months after the documents were seized by Turkish authorities. The road map for a solution to the Kurdish issue in Turkey was prepared by Öcalan and was seized and not made public for one and a half years.
Öcalan prepared the 156-page plan in 2009, but it was not delivered to his lawyers by prison authorities because they deemed it not relevant for his defense and "contradictory to the state's interests." The lawyers obtained access to the document only after a decision by the European court. The road map was then published by the Dicle news agency Wednesday.
In his three-step plan, Öcalan suggests: First, the PKK will announce a lasting cease-fire and both sides "will prevent provocations, preparing the public opinion for peace." Second, a "Verifying and Negotiating" parliamentary committee will be established with "maximum consent" from both sides, which would lead to an amnesty project according to the confessions and defenses to be offered. The third step suggested by the road map is judicial and constitutional reforms that would lead to the legalization of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK).
Öcalan presented ten main principles for the solution of the Kurdish issue in his road map, named "Democratization Issues in Turkey and [a Roadmap for] Solution Models in Kurdistan." "A democratic nation" and "common land, democratic land" were two of the principles. They related to having multi-lingual and multi-ethnic communities based on free and equal individuals.
"A democratic republic" and "a democratic constitution" were principles related to accessibility and transparency of the state and social consensus.
Öcalan also suggested in his road map that the state should not discriminate among individual and collective rights as they were equally important. He also included the principle of democracies' self-defense, which implies democratic societies cannot exist without self-defense.
While European court intervention made the release of Öcalan's long-overdue road map suggestions possible, the state is resolute that nothing can circumvent Turkish courts' rulings on the PKK head's imprisonment conditions.
The PKK is an outlawed terrorist organization, as recognized by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU. The KCK is the alleged urban wing of the PKK.
President Abdullah Gül said Thursday court rulings on the imprisonment of Öcalan were final.
His comments came in response to a question about discussions started by Ufuk Uras, a deputy for the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, who suggested giving Öcalan house arrest.
"The court rulings are final and he is serving his sentence," President Gül told reporters before departing for Egypt.
Similarly, top government officials said house arrest was not possible under current circumstances.
On Wednesday, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said house arrest for Öcalan was not possible under the existing laws.
"There is a regulation on house arrest but those that have been sentenced [for terrorism crimes] cannot benefit from this," he said.
The opposition also joined the discussion about house arrest for Öcalan. Republican People's Party, or CHP, deputy Akif Hamzaçebi said house arrest would mean an indirect amnesty for the terrorist leader.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday criticized the BDP for using their energy, time and politics to act as the spokesman for the PKK.
"If your mere concern is [to improve] prison conditions of the terrorist organization chieftain, you cannot become a party of Turkey and you cannot embrace Turkey," said Erdoğan, referring to the BDP.
"You cannot even provide service for your grassroots, your voter base," he emphasized.
"Stop acting as the spokesman of the PKK or dealing with the terrorist chief and give an account of what you have done for the region so far," said the prime minister.
The cease-fire declared by the PKK ended earlier this week. Erdoğan said secret plans had revealed cooperation between the PKK and gangs, adding that some even criticized the terrorist organization for declaring a cease-fire on the argument that inaction by the PKK would benefit the government.
"With their growing terrorist activities in the run-up to every election period, they attempted to shape the political atmosphere and political balances inside Turkey," said Erdoğan. "I am repeating here that there is a dirty game, dirty alliances. There are dirty scenarios."
President Gül also responded to a question about the end of the PKK ceasefire.
"We know how the people in the region and all our people are against terrorism and violence and how they deplore terrorism and how everyone is united against terrorism," said Gül.
For his part, Erdoğan called for unity under the banner of Turkish Republic citizenship.
"We have insisted on three things: We will not engage in ethnic nationalism, regional or religious nationalism. We did not engage in ethnic nationalism. We will not do this discrimination," said Erdoğan.
"There is only one thing that we want: Let's unite under the common banner of Turkish Republic citizenship. That's our only concern," he added.
He also praised the government's investments in the Southeast and said the PKK exploited the poverty in the region for decades. "Of course it does not only exploit; it also attempted to obstruct any project aimed at rescuing the region from poverty, unemployment and despair."