Turkey's elections for the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) will be held on Oct. 12. This board has authorization in critical matters such as registering and appointing judges and prosecutors, whose numbers are currently at about 14,000. For this reason, aside from the impartiality and independence of the jurisdiction, the developments regarding the elections are of vital importance for Turkey's democracy.
Just like all the other institutions in the Republic of Turkey, the HSYK was also under military dominance. Thanks to the reforms implemented by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the ruling party in Turkey for the last 12 years, the board came under civilian rule.
With the regulation introduced through the referendum held on Sept. 12, 2010, the 30th anniversary of the 1980 military coup, judicial members became authorized to elect the members of HSYK. However, the board then entered into the domination of another group that is organized within the civilian judicial bureaucracy and acts autonomously in the state.
According to claims, this autonomous group ruled by Fethullah Gülen - a former imam currently living in the U.S. - controls 80 percent of the HSYK. So, what are the negatives that this situation has caused?
First, it contradicts the Republic's secular principle for a group organized by religious motivations to be a determinant on the operating of the jurisdiction.
Secondly, this illegal organization is evaluating, rewarding or punishing judges and prosecutors not according to the norms and rules of law, but through their own arbitrary principles. For instance, the contents of about 3,000 out of 10,000 pending investigation files on judges and prosecutors are ridiculous. Hundreds of judicial members denying membership to Gülen's organization are investigated due to their secular choices in their private lives such as consuming alcoholic beverages or frequenting pubs. The Gülen Movement blotted the copybooks of leftists, liberals and AK Party proponents in the judiciary by opening investigations for no tangible reason. Belonging to a different ethnic or religious group, such as being Kurdish or Alevi, is also reason to meet the organization's investigations, which has caused a huge public stir. It is possible to read in Turkish papers everyday about a surprising story of a judicial member exposed to the oppression of this illegal group leaked in the HSYK.
In addition to this, the HSYK has never placed 7,000 files containing complaints over the Gülen Movement members on the agenda.
However, those files include some claims much more serious than "offenses" such as consuming alcohol. For instance, the most minor of them is the claim that the judges and prosecutors act in collaboration with police force and fabricate simulated facts. Another negative effect is that some judicial members known to have close relations with the Gülen Movement have become political actors. For instance, some judges and prosecutors act like opposition party deputies and issue political statements that have no relation to law. Those persons are publicly threatening everyone criticizing them through media outlets, including journalists, politicians or citizens downtrodden by the Gülen Movement.
Despite this negative picture, the Gülen Movement actively manipulates the domestic and foreign publics to a certain degree thanks to the media power it has and its lobby activities in the international arena. A group of European judges that recently visited Turkey have issued some press statements that prove that the twists of the Gülen Movement are influential, as these judges did not issue a single criticism of the Gülenist groups' hegemony in the HSYK. Besides, they slammed political will in search of a legal formula against the bureaucratic dominance in the jurisdiction.
Of course, we count on the goodwill of the European lawmakers concerned with the subject. However, if they really want to have an opinion on the operation of the law in Turkey, they should not confine themselves to the information rendered by pro-Gülen groups. They should definitely meet the thousands of judges and prosecutors in the HSYK who are oppressed by the Gülen Movement. But it would not matter what we say if they are not concerned when an autonomous group in the jurisdiction attempts to interfere with politics through its legal rule, while they consider the political institution's efforts to resolve the problem as an intervention in jurisdiction. In this case, I could only advise them to have a look at the introduction courses of law schools once again.