Every state has its own layers of protection to ensure its continuation. In modern democracies its a mixture of constitutional law, criminal law and traditions. Depending on the roots of the particular state these protective conventions differ a great length from one entity to another. For example in the United States, these issues are handled in Federal Law. In UK, traditions play a bigger role. In Greece, democratic ideals are so preemptive in written articles of law that, tradition and ideological extremities play a role of checks and balances on certain issues.
Turkish Republic, from its beginnings, and in resemblance with its predecessor Ottoman Empire, has had different layers of protection from defined or loosely accepted enemies. Although these have changed as times changed and priorities shifted, certain common denominators remained unchanged in its progress. Here, the idea on the center is the perception that the state is above the interest of all its citizens. State is a fatherly figure taking care of its “subjects”, and knows “what’s best for them” even better than any individual. When you extend the state that far, surely its “protection” would be a complex structure.
At this stage we see the “personification” of the state and the concepts that are related to it. On the outer sphere there are the usual suspects; laws against spying and acts of un-patriotic behavior. People are seldom caught by that net because these kind of accusations need through investigations and solid evidences against the accused. On the second layer there are the specific laws that derive from the “personification” of the state and its past and present representatives. As if the government is not elected by the people and for the people, they are continuously protected from the people including the civil servants. Even moral being of the state and its representation is protected from “ideas”. Insulting the state, its founder and its institutions is part of the criminal law in Turkey. And if it is believed that these ideas are expressed collectively, it suddenly becomes the subject of “terror” law and you stand trial for founding a “gang” to end or alter the state which is punishable by up to life sentence. Yes, I am still talking about expressions, not actions. These laws enable any prosecutor to file cases against any dissident writer, journalist, activist or politician at any point in time. Even if they are acquitted at the end, a lawsuit like that would last an average of five years, which is a form of punishment in itself. This layer of protection is used against opposition of any kind and form throughout the modern history of Turkey including years of “democracy” as well as the years of junta.
Closest to the ideal at the center comes, what has recently been called as “neighborhood pressure” by sociologist Serif Mardin. Since this fatherly figure of the state extends to personal perception of people, individuals perceive it almost sinful to propagate against the state or its declared values without even questioning their integrity. Friends and colleagues urge each other to prevent expressing “these kinds of opinions” either because they are totally wrong by definition, or because “it won’t be good for the person” to express these opinions. “One should think about their children at the end”.
Add to this thousands of missing people known within the last few decades, hundreds of more official killings during and after junta regimes of different decades, and annihilation of each and every “minority” during the last century in the country, one can now have a glimpse of a well established police state disguised very unsuccessfully as a developing democracy.
Hidden under very carefully drafted rhetoric, this is the tradition and justice system prevailing in Turkey now. One significant difference between now revolting Arab states and Turkey is the fact that in Arab states, dictators are considered a part of the regime, so actions are taken against the established power. In Turkey state is even above the people who represent it at any given time. People might consider themselves against one particular government or regime in Turkey. However that blinds them against the real culprit; the state that uses all these puppets called statesmen, feeding them with worldly rewards, using them as false targets to secure its permanence.