Just couple of days ago, the name Bharara was not known in Turkey. He had some 8K followers on Twitter and would not imagine it multiplied with two-score, even more. Today, he is the hope of many millions in Turkey. A comment about him at one of Turkey’s most visited websites, for example, says that “I swear that I want to hug him and tell him a lot of things while crying. We are so depressed, don’t upset us”. It went to the level that his 34th tweet is a response to a Turkish citizen, who asked if he wanted anything from Turkey, saying “I love shish kebab but I do not think I can accept gifts just for doing my job”.
What is this sudden display of love through him?
The answer is found in the recent history, namely 17-25 December 2013 corruption scandal in Turkey. Celal Kara, a public prosecutor, started an operation in which all the suspects were members of the government, especially Erdogan, their family members, including Erdogan’s both sons, and high officials as well as businessmen, including Reza Zarrab. Also we learned about the name Babak Zanjani, who is to be hanged because of the same accusations, in Iran. The accusations were bribery, corruption, fraud, money laundering and gold smuggling.
The picture was beyond imagination even for us, who are used to live with these accusations. In the home of Suleyman Aslan, the director of state-owned Halkbank, for example, 4.5 million dollars were found in shoeboxes. We of course had guesses but were not even close to what we saw. Considering what we did not see is beyond the accusations, which is billions of dollars owned by a small political elite including, of course, Erdogan, ex-prime minister and current president, we still are enraged against those people.
What happened back then? In short, we watched a dirty show in which there was no sign of shame, honour, or law. The millions of dollars in the home of Aslan, for example, were laundered once more saying that it was collected from donators to establish a university abroad. We, they said, the terrorists, were against the state and the government, so that were accusing good-willed people. The money was returned to him, we did not see a university and a vast majority of the country forgot about it already.
Well, some did not.
There was going to be a second wave of arrests, which could not be done because the head of Istanbul police was changed. Even though the order was given by the public prosecutor, the police did not follow it. Hundreds of police were removed from their positions, who later were arrested as terrorists. We watched two public prosecutors being added to the case, who closed it when they were assigned. For Erdogan this was a judicial coup by those who were jealous of his success, and the state ended that day, with Turkey turning into a party-state.
Erdogan was right that he was the main target of the operation. Considering that Erdogan Bayraktar, one of the ministers that were accused in the scandal, saying “I did all in coordination and approval of Erdogan, so he should resign like him”, we have enough evidence to believe that he was right. After a law was passed which increased the government control over law, which means Erdogan’s control, we have been sure that what is seen so far is just a drop in the ocean.
On 30 March 2014, we saw the success of Erdogan once more during the local elections. He told people that there was a coup attempt by the enemies of the state. It is worth to stress that not his political opponents but the enemies of the state. We, not for the first time, were labelled as terrorists and public enemy number one. We watched them clearing their names while abolishing the law, ending the state and suppressing us even more.
It is an interesting experience to be an opponent in a fascist regime. You see what is going on, but you cannot spell out what you see. You suffer from it but millions do not believe you while the other millions can hardly, if ever, hear you. You are on the edge of insanity but have to stay calm and try to keep living. You collect all you see, feel, hear, live through, suffer from, anger, hopelessness, hate, rage… until a time which you do not know when, if ever, will come.
When you lose hope, you lose the human in you. So you keep hoping, even though you know that it will not come true.
Bharara gave us that. Bharara gave us the hope that even if not in our own country, even if not by our public prosecutors, even if not by our courts, there might be the chance that at least some unlawful acts will be punished. Maybe on the other half of the mother Earth, someone will ask for what is done to us. Maybe someone will prove that our supreme leader, our fascist leader, the person and millions of people that leave no space for us to live, will be punished. We know that it will not affect anything in our daily lives. I guess, and know, that we will be suppressed even more, maybe our lives will be threatened and taken from us. But to keep sane, not to lose the last piece of hope, not to be absent of the last piece of humanity in us, we have hopes now.
Bharara gave us hope. I wish, I would beg him, not to agree in any deal with Zarrab and to show to the world what has happened, and is happening, in Turkey. Even if it will cost my life, I would not hesitate even for a second.
I lost my adolescence in Turkey. I am losing my adulthood in Turkey. Maybe I can smile, I can be happy for once.
That is what happened in Turkey. That is why Bharara is (some of) our national hero now.