A mythical conspiracy results in a very real human tragedy

Show trials, the likes of which have not been seen since Joseph Stalin set about creating the perfect totalitarian society, have ended with Turkish journalists handed prison sentences of 30 years and more. The jailed journalists are supported by the International Federation of Journalists and its affiliated unions, including the National Union of Journalists in Britain and Ireland.

Ergenekon is a mythical valley at the heart of the Turkey’s national creation story. Today the name is given to an equally fantastical political plot which Turkey’s Islamist rulers claim is an attempt to topple by means of a military coup the government led by prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

There may well be dark forces within the the old Kemalist deep state that favour the return of a militarist and secular authoritarian regime, but they are insignificant. More than a generation has passed since the coup d’état led by army commander Kenan Evren. That 22 journalists have in 2013 been singled out for special treatment by Erdoğan’s lumpen-majoritiarian regime says more about this paranoid politician’s reaction to public scrutiny than it does an alleged political plot staged by those with ties to the military, and who are deeply hostile to Islamist ideology.

As an example of how totally farcical is the Ergenekon conspiracy, the journalist and politician Tuncay Özkan has been sentenced to life in solitary confinement, without the possibility of parole. This in a country that harbours ambitions of joining the European Union.