Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone Embassy of the United States of America 110 Atatürk Blvd. Kavaklıdere, 06100 Ankara Turkey
Dear Ambassador Ricciardone:
I and no doubt millions of secular Turks were interested to hear your comment about trying to understand the Oda TV arrest case. Later you averred that Turkey is “complicated.” Perhaps you remember the powerful, totalitarian Inner Party member named O’Brien in Orwell’s 1984? And perhaps you may recall his chilling words to the rebellious Winston Smith? “You will be hollow,” said O’Brien. “We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”
This is what the ruling power has been doing to Turkey since 2003, Mr. Ambassador…squeezing and hollowing and emptying. And it is not complicated at all. Raw, brutal power never is. The majority party has destroyed constitutional guarantees of press freedom, the right to speedy due process, the right of public assembly, and the right to privacy. The AKP has trashed all notions of “rules of evidence.” It has raped the environment, wildly enriched itself and its families, and destroyed careers and lives. Those opposed to the AKP government are sent to jail; the Oda TV people have many comrades in the concentration camp called Silivri Prison. Millions more live outside in fear of government reprisal and governmental eavesdropping. If one has eyes, one sees all this. It is in plain, uncomplicated sight, Mr. Ambassador. In short, the secular, democratic nation founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is dying, Ambassador Ricciardone.
The political situation today in Turkey is dire. America is on the brink of losing a secular ally, so profoundly destructive is its ruling party. The Turkish army has become a laughingstock, compromised by the Islamist fascist government. On 11 February, 163 military officers, including generals, were arrested in a nonsensical, government-induced coup scam called “Sledgehammer.” Incredibly, most of these arrested officers (60%) are on active duty. The security of the nation is shaken. Sadly, the enlightened, secular country that was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is in ruins. The Islamist ruling party has taken all branches of government under its control, including the last bastions of protection for democracy: the judiciary and the army.
Today’s Turkey has become the Germany of 1933, a fascist police state. People who speak out live in fear of reprisals. There is a prison gulag where dissenters are held without due process. I have attended the “show” trials at Silivri Prison numerous times. I have observed the travesty of justice that prevails there. It smells to high heaven, Ambassador Ricciardone. And this tragedy is being played out right under America’s nose.
And America’s nose is not clean, Mr. Ambassador. The history of American meddling in Turkish affairs goes far back, as you well know. But now the American-backed AKP ruling party, empowered by the nonsensical George W. Bush policy of “moderate Islam,” has turned the tables. It has passed beyond all moderation with its brand of Islamic, police-state fascism.
The west has always relied upon a muscular, democratic, secular Turkey. You should be interested to know that such a Turkey is today a myth. So you can readily see the unprecedented destruction wrought by this ruling party. The prime minister has even suggested that those opposed to his policies leave the country. Squeezing, hollowing, emptying, well describe this horrifying extermination of democracy and secularity.
I write this to you with on-the-ground experience, having lived in Turkey for over a decade. I, too, have become a target of the ruling power’s smear campaign for my writing on blogs, websites and Turkish publications in support of the political and social principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. See: http://yenisafak.com.tr/Yazarlar/?t=29.04.2009&y=TahaKivanc
And, as a concerned citizen, I have also written to higher authorities, detailing the demise of Ataturk’s Turkey.
On Inauguration Day, 20 January 2009, I advised President Obama of the precarious state of democracy in secular Turkey. I received no acknowledgement from the White House. This letter was also published by the Ataturk Society of America located in Washington DC, only a few blocks from the White House. http://www.ataturksociety.org/voa/Ataturk_winter2009_final_web.pdf (pp 20-23).
The president may have been surprised by events in Egypt. But if he had read my four letters he would not be surprised by the fascist fiasco that now prevails here.
Despite the lack of response, I wrote three additional letters to the president warning him of the treachery of the Turkish ruling party and the paradoxical complicity of the US government in the demise of Turkey. These four letters render a detailed, accurate and blunt picture of the nature of the peril that confronts the nation. They have enjoyed wide circulation in “unofficial” circles. You may find them useful.
Since you have earlier served in Turkey, you surely must understand the breadth and depth of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, one of history’s greatest military commanders, revolutionary thinkers and social reformers. It is the work of this profoundly unique man that is now so demeaned by the current ruling party in Turkey. There are millions of Turks who refuse to be “filled” with the dark-minded, violent, backward policies of the AKP ruling party. Turkey’s democracy is dying. It is not be a pretty sight, Ambassador Ricciardone. Neither you nor Secretary of State Clinton nor President Obama should be surprised at the dire consequences.
James C. Ryan, Ph.D.
Enclosures: Brief Bio Letter to President Obama 20 January 2009 Letter to President Obama 20 October 2009 Letter to President Obama 3 January 2010 Letter to President Obama 20 July 2010