The State Supervisory Council and Ankara Massacre: What Presidential Order Makes Us Think

*Source: Anadolu Ajansı ©

The State Supervisory Council and Ankara Massacre:
What Presidential Order Makes Us Think

Abstract

After the attack of two suicide bombers in Ankara on 10th of October, the discussions concerning the names of the terrorist organisations which perpetrated this bombing, the high overshadowed numbers of dead and injured. The Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party) (AKP), which believed that the PKK terrorism increased their votes for the elections of November, hastily declared that it was an act of the PKK and the president also supported this statement. However, both criminal and forensic findings and the course of events have contradicted their statement and pointed to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Just at the same time, prior to the completion of the investigations carried out by the police and prosecution, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hurriedly ordered to the Devlet Denetleme Kurulu (State Supervisory Council) (DDK) that is directly under his directory to investigate this incident. Below, the possible reasons and outcomes of the president’s order and the appropriateness of the DDK’s institutional and functional structure to perform such an order will be examined.    

Introduction

On the previous 10th of October, in one of the biggest squares of Turkey’s capital Ankara, two suicide bombers simultaneously attacked,[1] leaving 102 people dead and hundreds  more injured.[2]

The targeted rally,  although there were members of a party among the participants, was not an election rally organised by a specific political party; it was a “peace” themed rally organised by prominent trade unions and nongovernmental organisations.[3] The deep suspicions surrounding the political frame of the bombing are still unrevealed. One of  the most frightening evaluation on this subject is the claim that this bombing happened to strengthen the position of the ruling party, that has lost votes in the previous 7th June elections for the 1st November early elections.[4]

This claim is supported by this thought:

The main reason why the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party) (AKP) ruling party has lost the majority of the votes in the 7 June elections is that the Halkların Demokratik Partisi (People’s Democratic Party) (HDP), for the first time, passed the elective threshold under a united party[5] and entered the parliament with 80 representatives. The reason behind the success of the HDP was the ongoing “resolution process” by which the aim was to resolve the Kurdish question with peaceful methods, excluding terror. The ceasefire of the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistani (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) (PKK) during the resolution process has strengthened the Kurdish Party HDP’s hand. So, the votes of the HDP would drop again if the resolution process were to be blocked and the days of the PKK terror were to return. With this logic, massive terrorist actions with multiple casualties would benefit AKP’s political interest.[6]

There was only one condition for this above described scenario to function:  The PKK to carry out the Ankara massacre! As it is, it had to be done by the Kurdish terrorist organisation to condemn the Kurdish party HDP! Except that the first criminological evidence revealed that it was not the PKK but the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This evidence was inconvenient for AKP for two reasons: First, if the ISIS is behind the bombing, it would be impossible to put the blame on HDP. Second, the AKP could have faced difficulties in public opinion because since long the HDP had accused the AKP of being sympathetic towards the ISIS.[7]

For this reason, the president and AKP executives have started to search for ways to include PKK into the massacre. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has seen no harm in vocalising this claim which is not supported by any criminological evidence:

This massacre is a ‘cocktail’ act, performed jointly by the ISIS, the PKK, the Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat (Democratic Union Party) (PYD), the Türkiye Halk Kurtuluş Partisi-Cephesi (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front) (THKP-C) and Assad Regime.

However, as the prosecution’s investigation progressed and the identities of the bombers became evident, it turned out to be a ‘dry’ drink with only the ISIS inside rather than a ‘cocktail.’  The suicide bombers were members of the ISIS, they were long known by the Turkish security forces, and every step of their pre-bombing activities came into light.[8] Right at this moment President Erdoğan took an unexpected step: He ordered the Devlet Denetleme Kurulu (State Supervisory Council) (DDK) that is under his command to investigate the Ankara massacre! Therefore, below, on one side we will investigate the structure and the functions of the DDK to whom the president ordered the ‘investigation’ of a mass bloodshed and on the other side we will try to answer this question: ‘What business does the DDK have in a criminal investigation that lies within the jurisdiction of the police forces, military police and intelligence agencies?’

What Is the DDK and What Do They Do?

The DDK is an institution that entered the Turkish bureaucracy with the military coup in 1980. It is formed in 1981 by the order of the head of the coup, President Kenan Evren, with the intention of creating a body to efficiently control the administration.[9] With the adoption of the 1982 constitution, the DDK has obtained a ‘constitutional status,’[10] with an emphasis on its positioning ‘under the command of the president of the republic.’ The president personally assigns the members and the head of the council with a single signed enactment.[11] The assignments of the president are outside of judicial control.[12]

The role of the DDK is defined as following: “It is to make inspections upon the president’s request to ensure orderly and efficient execution and development of the administrative duties in compliance with the laws.” The DDK can perform its inspections in following establishments: “All public institutions and organisations, organisations whose more than half are publicly funded, professional organisations qualified as state organisations, professional organisations of all types of employers or employees, associations and public benefit societies.” Armed forces and judicial bodies are no subject to the assigned position of the DDK.[13]

The Position of the DDK in Parliamentary Democracies

The findings and suggestions of DDK’s research and investigations are sent to the prime ministry with the decision of the president. For criminal matters, the president can directly call upon the departments of jurisdiction.[14] In parliamentary democracies, there would be no institution like the DDK under the command of the president, who has only symbolical power and no real responsibility in the realm of prosecution since in parliamentary democracies, the president is not authorised to give orders to the prime minister (and to the government). Thus, from the point of the prime minister and the government, the reports that are sent to the president by the DDK are no more than mere ‘suggestions.’ For the DDK reports to be constitutionally binding, the body (president) who orders the DDK has to have the authority to give directions to the government and this order is only possible in monarchies or presidential governments.

The exception of this situation (that neither exists in the law nor in the constitution) occurred during Kenan Evren’s period as a strong head of the state and his subsequent period as a strong president. All DDK reports produced during that period of time served as a purpose of ‘order’ for the government.

But during the periods when the president of the republic and the government had the opportunity to show different political and executive approaches from each other, the situation could only change. The reports produced by the DDK, operating in the service of the 9th President of the Republic Turgut Özal, were never considered as an ‘order’ by the Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel or by his government who both were in strong political hostility against him. There were similar instances[15] between the 10th President of the Republic Ahmet Necdet Sezer and the Prime Ministers who served during that period of time, Bülent Ecevit and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Well, how will things turn out during Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s presidency? Taking into account President Erdoğan’s continuous function as the ‘sole selector’ and his incontestable effect on the victory of November 1 Elections, it is possible to say that the DDK reports prepared by his orders will have a binding force upon Davutoğlu’s government.

Is the DDK Autonomous?

It is not expected for supervisory institutions to have an autonomous status similar to what judicial bodies have. Since the report prepared by the supervisory institution does not possess any power of endorsement unless it is approved by the authority that commanded the supervision, it is not possible for the supervisor to be de facto independent from that authority. It is sufficient for the supervisory institution to be independent from the ‘supervised’ one. Therefore, this is the reason why all the supervisory institutions operate at the highest chief’s command and they do not receive orders from any other authority.

As it can be understood from this explanation, since it is the presidency that gives orders to the DDK, the council is located at the highest level among all other supervisory institutions in Turkey and it stands absolutely independent from all bureaucracy.  Nonetheless it cannot be said that the council is also independent from the president of the republic.

If the question ‘Would it possible for these supervisory institutions tobe abused’ by the authority who give them the orders?’ pops up in our minds, we may actually answer this question with a ‘yes.’ Similar cases in bureaucracies at the parliamentary and general directories’ levels have been faced earlier. There are numerous examples of a minister using the supervisory institution operating under his command to condemn its predecessor’s behaviour or the example of the minister not approving the supervisory report confirming an irregularity that took place during his period of power.[16] There are also various legal-administrative paths to prevent this kind of inappropriate situations.[17]

Nevertheless, neither the constitutional law maker nor the law maker assumed that the president of the republic could use the DDK working under his command ‘in a nonprocedural way’ and therefore did not think of a legal precaution against it. The only action that a DDK member could take against a president who wants to ‘change or discard’ the results of the examination carried out by him/her is to resign; because his/her resistance would nonetheless result in his/her ‘dismissal’ and as the acts carried single-handedly by the president of the republic remain free from the judicial control, this dismissal procedure would not be submitted to any judicial review.

It should be noted clearly that until today there has not been one single event indicating that the president of the republic had used the DDK under his command ‘in violation of the procedure.’

Could the DDK Examine the Ankara Massacre?

There is no need to explain at great length that the DDK’s structure that has been built around the mission of ‘performing and furthering the regular and efficient functioning of the administration and its observance of law’ is not fit for investigating and examining a heavy criminal incident such as Ankara Massacre.

From past to present, there are only three examples indicating that the DKK carried out an examination upon allegations of political murder, assassination and mass murder. The first example occurred during the time Abdullah Gül’s presidency. The examination[18] carried out by the DDK upon the death of leader of the Büyük Birlik Partisi (Grand Unity Party) (BBP) Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu in a suspicious helicopter crash[19] was criticised, at that time, by the relevant minister.[20]

The second example is the DDK examination[21] carried out years after the killing of Hrant Dink,[22] the Editor-in-Chief of Agos Newspaper, and the third one is the DDK examination[23] carried out years after the death of Turgut Özal,[24] the 8th President of the Republic.

In all of the three examinations mentioned above, the most striking aspect of DDK’s task scope is how it avoids intervening into police’s and/or the courthouse’s jurisdiction. For Yazıcıoğlu’s case, the examination scope was limited with determining ‘the adequacy of rescue operations and the adequacy of the studies carried out to determine the cause of the accident;’ as for the Dink case, the examination scope was limited with determining whether ‘the administrative procedures before and after the event were in compliance with the law.’ The scope of DDK examination regarding Turgut Özal’s death was a bit wider than the previous ones: ‘the health operations and procedures run both at the presidency campus and at the hospital, and other allegations expressed by the public opinion regarding the cause of death and the way the incident took place.’

Another common point of these examinations stated above is that: all three investigations were carried out years after the incidents because the public opinion’s suspicions could never be resolved. Therefore, none of the three DDK examinations did not/could not exercise influence over the already completed police and prosecution processes, and over concluded lawsuit processes.

Nonetheless, Ankara Massacre is not an ‘old’ incident as the examples stated above; it is a recent one. The public opinion is still waiting for the criminal investigation procedures; there is no reason to have complaints and doubts regarding these processes yet. Despite the law and constitutional convention saying that ‘judicial authorities fall outside of DDK’s area of responsibility,’ it is extremely controversial for the DDK to take part in the Ankara Massacre case which has been seized by authorised public prosecutors, at a period when ‘police and prosecution investigations are still being carried out while the bill of indictment has not been written and penal proceedings have not yet started.’ Even though the DDK’s examination should be carried out without interfering into public prosecutor’s duties and authorities, this assignment could bring in suspicions upon investigations and these suspicions cannot be considered unfair.

Perhaps what needs to be said on this subject is that: it can under no circumstances be approved for the president of the republic, who, even though had the opportunity to have an ‘indirect but effective’ contribution to enlighten the incident in a realistic manner by frequently requesting briefings from the Minister of the Interior Affairs, law enforcement authorities and intelligence officers and by encouraging them, instead of precipitately calling the DDK into service by avoiding all other ways.

Conclusion

Police and intelligence research, prosecution investigations for the Ankara Massacre which caused 102 deaths and hundreds of injured people have not been completed and penal proceedings have not started yet.

As it stands, it would be extremely convenient to comment on the action of the President of the Republic, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who hastily gave the DDK working under his command the instructions to investigate this incident, as a wish to interfere to the running routine legal processes. Because, first of all, the DDK was not established to investigate such criminological incidents but ‘to further bureaucratic institutions and their functioning;’ second judicial bodies (prosecution offices) do not fall into the DDK’s scope of task; third and most importantly, both the president of the Republic and AKP governance are known to have ‘indulgent’ attitude and declarations towards the terrorist organisation the ISIS, the ‘usual suspect’ of the massacre; their attitude signalling that ‘they would prefer the PKK having committed this massacre’ is at the public opinion’s attention.

Taking into account that the DDK cannot act independently from the president of the republic and that the president of the republic has an incontestable guiding effect on the AKP and the AKP government, it would not be wrong to assume that, the investigation command which has been addressed to the DDK can be treated to have the aim of putting the blame of the massacre onto another terrorist organisation together with the ISIS, especially on the PKK, and if that is not possible, it can be assumed that the command aimed to present this massacre as a ‘cocktail action’ in which many terrorist organisations were involved.

What falls to our share as the public opinion is to follow very closely the DDK examination and to evaluate the results that they get in light of the information stated above.

Hıfzı Deveci, Retired Member of the State Supervisory Council

Please cite this publication as follows:

Deveci, H. (December, 2015), “The State Supervisory Council and Ankara Massacre: What Presidential Order Makes Us Think” Vol. IV, Issue 12, pp.14-23, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey), London, Research Turkey (http://researchturkey.org/?p=10205)

Endnotes

[1] On October 10th 2015, at 10.04, two suicide bombers have exploded themselves with seconds in sequence inside the gathering crowd at the train station square in Ulus at Ankara.

[2] The statistics of the dead and the injured are always hypocritical: People always pay attention to the numbers of the dead and those who are injured are viewed as detail(technicality). Whereas there are those among the injured who create deeper, more silent and desperate human tragedies than the dead.

The first incoming numbers concerning the Ankara massacre reported that more than 300 people were injured, and 50 among them were in critical care. In the forthcoming days, it was revealed that there were tens of people whose body parts were irremediably dismembered. Tens of people who will never be able to walk, use their hands, to speak, to see…

[3] Among the participants of the rally alongside the Halkların Demokratik Partisi (People’s Democratic Party) (HDP) were trade unions (Devrimci İşçi Sendikaları Konfederasyonu (Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions) (DİSK) and Kamu Emekçileri Sendikası (Confederation of Public Workers’ Unions) (KESK)); associations (Türk Tabipler Birliği (Turkish Medical Association) (TTB) and Türk Mühendis ve Mimar Odaları Birliği (Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects) (TMMOB)). Beside these main participants many other political parties and nongovernmental organisations have notified their participation and support. The name of the rally was ‘Peace Rally.’

[4] At the elections held this year in June, AKP’s votes have decreased significantly and they lost the majority to form the government on their own. The biggest event that led to this result was the Kurdish party HDP easily passing the threshold first time as a united party and entering the parliament with 80 representatives. The new parliament was unable to form a coalition government, so elections were repeated on 1th of November. It has been prevalently spoken that a coalition could not be formed because of the AKP originated President Erdoğan, who purposely pursued a strategy that ruled out every possibility to form a government which diminished AKP’s primer role in the government.

[5] Previously, Kurdish representative candidates were participating as independent candidates because of the 10% threshold.

[6] Indeed, the results of the 1th November elections display that this followed strategy of AKP was indeed effective. For AKP has again gained the majority of the votes to rule the parliament.

[7] It is a commonly known and accepted opinion that AKP has a positive approach towards ISIS. In previous years, there were loads of much-discussed news on the Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı’s (National Intelligence Agency) (MİT) obscure weapon shipments, on the Syrian border being held open to ease transportation of terrorists, on injured ISIS fighters to be treated in Turkey and on many members that are recruited from within Turkey.

Various AKP members have stated that “ISIS in not a terrorist organisation.” In one of his speeches Prime Minister Davutoğlu stated that “ISIS became a threat due to anger, this anger would not have piled up, if Sunnite Arabs were not marginalised.”

http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/turkiye/103123/Davutoglu_ndan_cani_ISiD_i_mesrulastiran_sozler.html

[8] In fact, the Chief Public Prosecutor of Ankara that carries out the investigation has stated that it was certain that the orders to the bombers came from the ISIS headquarters. Criminological evidence revealed that previous Adana, Diyarbakır, and Suruç bombings were all carried out by the same organisation.

[9] Law of organisation no: 2443; published in 03,04,1981 with the number 17299 O. J.

[10] Turkish Republic Constitution Cl. 108

[11] Turkish Republic Constitution Cl. 104/b

[12] Turkish Republic Constitution Cl. 105

[13] Turkish Republic Constitution Cl. 108; Law no: 2443 Cl. 1 and 2

[14] The law no: 2443 Cl.6

[15] The author witnessed similar conflicts closely as a member of DDK during the presidency of Ahmet Necdet Sezer. The most famous one among these conflicts has been set on the books as ‘the crisis of throwing a constitution book.’ The fact that President Sezer ordered the DDK, operating under his command, to inspect the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency made the Prime Minister Ecevit feel disturbed and this issue caused strong polemics between the two during a National Security Council meeting. It was alleged that during the dispute, the President of the Republic threw a small constitutional code book at the Prime Minister.

[16] Interesting examples such as these ones are narrated in the book entitled “Bir Avuç Hayat Tozu Bir Tutam Devlet Gölgesi – A Handful Dusts of Life, A Pinch of Shadows of the State” written by the author of these very lines.

[17] Both writing and approving false supervisory report is considered a crime under the Turkish Penal Code. On the other hand, there are legislative initiatives that can be taken against leaving supervisory reports dysfunctional (since it would be beyond the angle of the article, they are not mentioned here).

[18] SSC Report no: 2011/1

[19] Büyük Birlik Partisi (Great Unity Party) leader and deputy of Sivas Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu died in a helicopter accident on March 25, 2009 near Kahramanmaraş. The accident was found questionable.

[20] Binali Yıldırım, minister of the transport that period said that “expert individuals and institutions had examined this accident and they proved the pilot error. However, DDK members, who are not very experienced, in Çankaya are troubling the whole issue by preparing a report.”

http://haber.sol.org.tr/devlet-ve-siyaset/muhsin-yazicioglu-raporu-bakani-kizdirdi-haberi-38712

[21] Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was assassinated on January 19, 2007 in İstanbul Şişli, right in front of his newspaper.

[22] DDK Report no: 2012/1

[23] Turgut Özal died of a heart attack in presidential premises on April 17, 1993. Years after, his death has become a current issue due to suspicions of ‘poisoning.’

[24] DDK Report no: 2012/2

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