We have already known about the whiter-than-white Justice and Development government’s hubris and arrogance.
We have heard them tell foreign leaders to mind their own business, to get lost.
We have witnessed the heavy-handed, violent response to anyone protesting. We saw the indiscriminate use of tear gas and water cannon, leaving a trail of death and injury during the Gezi protests of last year.
We have heard the prime minister praising the police for their heroic, epic response.
We have seen countless examples of journalists being publicly dressed down, even worse being pushed out of their jobs. Only last week, during their joint press conference, the visiting Spanish prime minister witnessed Mr Erdogan’s rage against a reporter for daring to ask a question about corruption allegations. .
We knew about their boldness, audacity, recklessness all too well.
But until today, none of us knew the extent of their shamelessness.
Last year in June, during the Gezi protests, a hijab-wearing woman with her baby in a pram, claimed to be attacked by a group of shirtless, black leather gloved men, sexually assaulted, sworn at and peed on outside Istanbul’s busy Kabatas ferry terminal. These serious allegations were repeated by the Prime Minister, widely reported and discussed in the social media, causing widespread indignation.
Some Gezi protestors, both men and women, were accused of going into a mosque near Gezi , with their shoes on, drinking alcohol inside and behaving improperly.
These allegations voiced by senior officials and used to justify heavy-handed response to the protestors were repeated endlessly but never proven. However, when the muezzin of the mosque in question denied such actions took place, he was promptly removed from his post.
On Thursday, the 13th of February, one of Turkey’s main tv channels, Kanal D broadcast some pictures from the CCTV recording of the alleged incident.
It clearly showed the woman in question, waiting with her pram, surrounded with commuters and security personnel, people going around their business and no extra-ordinary action taking place.
What is clearly a blatant lie, repeated by the highest authority with the duplicity of some well-known journalists, seemed to merit only a short and terse statement from the Interior Ministry.
It said the complaint about the attack was lodged with the prosecutor in Istanbul and being investigated.
So, what is next?
One thing is for sure. We are now beyond expecting anyone in authority to bow their heads in shame.
Would people that are responsible for this potentially dangerous provocation be made to answer in court?
Likelihood is that any brave prosecutor daring to bring a charge will find himself promptly removed from the case or exiled.
Every day last week, a new recording has emerged, implicating those close to the government being knee-deep in sleaze.
We have heard tapes where the Prime Minister was asking the media bosses to alter their news coverage. Not only he has already admitted he has done that but Mr Erdogan has defended his action saying that he has a right to stop speech intending to insult him.
Several recordings circulating on the internet showed how government officials including the prime minister and his son gave instructions to a media executive about what and what not to report.
The fact that these leaks are provided by what the prime minister calls “the parallel state” is disconcerting. Yet, no one is denying their authenticity.
With such heavy censorship of the mainstream media, Turkish public is turning to a less-controllable medium, the internet.
The new amendments to the internet law which aim to bring stricter controls have been criticised by the European Union, the Council of Europe, the OSCE as well as countless other freedom of speech campaigners. The draft law was approved by the Parliament on 5 February.
Appeals to President Abdullah Gul to use his power of veto have very little chance of succeeding. The president who has 15 days to either veto in full or demand changes to the law has already indicated that there were a few points of concern and they were working on it.
So, as in previous occasions, if there are still some people believing the president will provide the much needed checks and balances in Turkey, they are again likely to be disappointed.
This post is also available in: Turkish