BY HRAYR S. KARAGUEUZIAN
The Susurluk scandal refers to the events surrounding the peak of the Turkey–Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) conflict, in the mid-1990s. It is considered a scandal because it indicated a close relationship between the government, the armed forces, and organized crime. The relationship came into existence after the National Security Council (MGK), Turkey’s highest body of authority conceived the need for the marshaling of the nation’s various “resources” to combat the separatist, Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
The scandal surfaced with a car crash on November 3 1996, near Susurluk, in the south-eastern province of Balıkesir, Turkey. The scandal revealed relations between criminal networks, the police, and the government in Turkey. When a government car crashed, found at the scene were: Abdullah Catli, internationally wanted alleged murderer; chief police officer Huseyin Kocadag; and Sedat Bucak, a deputy for the True Path party (DYP) the political party of then Prime Minster Tansu Ciller. A sinister alliance of political representatives with gangsters in combating the Kurds was hence exposed.
Fast forward to 2013; three Kurdish women were murdered execution style in the Kurdish Information Center in Paris on January 11. One of the three murdered women, Sakine Cansiz, was a close companion of Andullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of PKK. She was present when the PKK was founded in the late 1970s and spent years in the Diyarbakir Prison, notorious for the systematic torture that took place there, and later went on to become an important PKK representative in Europe.
Who Is Responsible? The question of who was behind the killings of the three Kurdish women remains unanswered at the present. However, the lessons of the past indicate a clear role for the Turkish “deep state” in assassination plots. The examples Hrant Dink who was trying to assemble and catalog the identity of Turkish citizens of Armenian descent thus bringing forward the memory of the Gencoide, the recent assassination of a teacher in an Armenian School in Turkey all point to an organized assassination rather than an ordinary killing. Surprisingly, Dink’s case was initially dismissed as an organized murder. However, most recently the prosecutor’s office of Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has asked the top court to overturn the rulings as an “ordinary killing,” arguing that the assassination was “organized.”
“Anything is possible,” says the Turkish journalist Saruhan Oluç . “Both opponents of the peace process within the PKK, or Turkish right-wing extremists linked to the security apparatus who oppose an agreement with the Kurds, are potential perpetrators.” A politically correct discourse would be to suggest an “internal Kurdish struggle” as PM Erdogan did without wasting time. However he did not dismiss a more sinister possibility. Erdogan, with his Islamist agenda is a different breed of politician compared to his late mentor Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. Erdogan is credited in dismantling of a military plot Balioz (Sludge hammer) designed to topple his government, However, Erdogan’s selective pursuit of justice is devoid of a high moral compass. He is after the truth that brings him more power and against issues that bring forward the memory of the Genocide. “That’s how it is here,” says the journalist Saruhan Oluç. “A positive step [i.e., talks with Ocalan] has barely been made before another setback takes place.” The journalist was referring to the recent “opening” by the Turkish PM Erdogan, who had sent a representative to ostensibly discuss possible ways of ending the lethal violence with the PKK leader Ocalan.
The question was and remains: Which Turkish government can be trusted, the “deep” or the “not so deep”?