Is Ergenekon a real threat or imagined ploy?

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Is Ergenekon a real threat or imagined ploy
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Ocak 27, 2009 00:00

ISTANBUL - The alleged Ergenekon gang and its accompanying theories are making news everyday. Everyone has an opinion about Ergenekon, including a majority of Turks who believe the alleged gang is real, according to a new survey.

More than 60 percent of the public believes the alleged criminal gang known as Ergenekon is real, a survey has shown.

The study, conducted by the A&G survey company between Jan. 17 and 19 in 33 provinces among 2,407 participants, also revealed views varied greatly between supporters of different political parties about the ongoing investigation and trial.

The Ergenekon case started after the discovery of 27 hand grenades in June 2007 in a shanty house in Istanbul's Ümraniye district that belonged to a retired noncommissioned officer. The grenades were found to be the same type used in attacks on Cumhuriyet daily’s Istanbul offices in 2006.

The findings led to scores of detentions and the interrogation of more than 100 journalists, writers, gang leaders and politicians in what turned into a terror investigation to crack down on an alleged ultra-nationalist gang named Ergenekon. The alleged gang is said to have sought to topple the government by staging a coup in 2009 after initially spreading chaos and mayhem. Earlier bombings of daily Cumhuriyet, the murder of Hrant Dink, the murder of the top judge of the Council of State and alleged plans for assassination of high-profile figures in Turkish politics are sometimes associated with the case.

Most of the detainees are known for their adamant opposition to the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP. The trial is ongoing and the court has yet to announce a decision as to whether or not a criminal gang called Ergenekon truly exists, but the recent survey showed few people among the public doubted its existence.

The study showed 61.6 percent of those questioned believed Ergenekon exists, while only 20.3 percent said they did not.

The survey also revealed that the percentage of those who rejected the gang’s existence increased with education: 15 percent of primary school graduates said they did not believe there was a criminal gang called Ergenekon, increasing to 23.1 percent among high school graduates and 26.7 among university graduates. At each education level, around 60 percent believed the gang exists.

The study sought to determine how the public was perceiving the development of the investigation, asking what participants thought the Ergenekon investigation aimed to achieve.

Almost half of the participants, 49.3 percent, said the investigation aimed to punish a criminal gang and coup plotters, while 22.3 percent saw it as an excuse used by the government to punish the opposition and the military.

Education levels also influenced those who believed the investigation was being exploited by the government: 16.8 percent of primary school graduates, 25.3 percent of high school graduates and 29.8 percent of university graduates said they thought the government was manipulating the judicial process.

The much-criticized Ergenekon investigation is proceeding according to legal norms, said 32.8 percent of those questioned. However, 26.9 percent of respondents said they thought there were illegal gangs working within the state and some of the detainees were a part of those gangs, however, the true targets were government opponents, who were being silenced.

Of respondents, 14.5 percent said they believed the entire investigation was a government ploy. There was also a huge gap between the ways supporters of various political parties viewed the developments.


The survey said 51 percent of Republican People’s Party, or CHP, supporters did not believe Ergenekon existed, 30 percent higher than the average.

AKP supporters, 74.9 percent believed the alleged gang existed. Among pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, supporters, 74.2 percent believed there was a criminal gang called Ergenekon, as did 64.3 percent of right-wing Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, supporters. Partisanship was also apparent when asked if the investigation was proceeding in accordance with legal norms.

Only 13.2 percent of CHP supporters believed this to be true, while the percentage increased to 17.7 percent among DTP supporters, 21.4 percent of MHP supporters and 55.5 percent of AKP supporters. Among CHP supporters, 33.1 percent believed the investigation was a government ploy, while the percentage dropped to 25.8 for DTP, 16.2 percent for MHP and 2 percent for AKP supporters.
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