17 Haziran 2013 Pazartesi


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As you may have gathered from my last posts, we haven’t been in Turkey during the last week- it was a prearranged trip, part of it for professional purposes and part for pleasure, with tickets purchased and hotels booked well in advance. Inevitably, there are pangs of conscience for not being there in Istanbul to get drenched in the dubious mixture squirted by our police, or choke on the fumes euphimistically called “tear gas”, or get our eyes gouged out by the gas cannisters and plastic bullets they shoot around, or get our heads bashed in by one of the AKP thugs that from time to time appear at the policemen’s heels wielding clubs with nails driven through the ends. Had I been there to be carted to hospital with fractures and toxic fume inhalation, I might have had a clearer conscience but certainly not be able to write this today.

I might be missing out from the fun and games at the Taksim “Promenade Park” (Gezi Parkı) but I’m getting some more insight about what people abroad are thinking. I have been writing obsessively for over a year now and though I have skipped many events and details (I have several incomplete articles), I have gone over the vital points repeatedly. Having come face to face with some people here, and having entered into correspondence with others, I have found that certain points need clarification abroad, and I’ll try to do that, at the risk of repeating myself sometimes.

One person, having understood that the “Islamism” of the AKP government was a major issue in the conflict, asked me how many Muslims there were in the country. I then realized some may easily get the impression that this is an issue of Muslim rulers  in conflict with the members another religion, as occurs in some countries- the Jewish-vs-Muslim conflict in Palestine, the Hindu-Sikh-Muslim tensions in India, to name a few. The Serbian Christian-vs-Bosnian Muslim conflict with the siege of Sarajevo and the massacre at Szebrenitza is also a good example for that kind of conflict, though the civilized West would rather not remember it.

The struggle in Turkey has no resemblance to any of these conflicts. The Republic of Turkey as founded and then developed by Ataturk in the 1920’s is secular, i.e., the State has no religion. The people, however, are around %98 Muslim. Islam in Turkey under the secular Republic was liberal, permissive, and only casually observed by a great part of the population. In fact, the Turkish approach to Islam was much more “moderate” until the US launched its operation to make Turkey a model of “moderate Islam”! The AKP brand of “Islamism” that is so hotly opposed in Turkey is exactly the intolerant, all-encompassing fundamentalism that the US was hypothetically trying to curb, but is still ill-advisedly nurturing through its support.

An article on the Gezi uprising appeared in the June 10th issue of the well known French newspaper Libération.
Reading the Libération article in France, June 10th, 2013.
(Image from my own camera, of course.)
True to its name, the paper speaks favourably of the uprising. But there are bothersome fallacies that echo other similar assessments in western media. In recounting the triumphs of Erdoğan’s AKP, the paper says:

“He (Erdoğan) rightfully reminds us that through its ten years in power he and the AKP have been elected and re-elected regularly, and that his party represents half of the Turkish population. His country has experienced incredible growth, he has put the soldiers back in their barracks, and Turkey has once again become a power unsurpassed since Ottoman times”.[1]

These are arguments that echo the US viewpoint, when the US press, and those that take their cue from it, look away from Israel, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, and North Korea long anough to take a glance at Turkey’s circumstances.

The AKP has emerged from nothing and became the first party in elections in little over a year. There is a lot of suspicion that the elections were rigged- with the US  behind he scenes it is not an impossibility- but even if they weren’t, the US-protected Gülen cult has infiltrated deeply enough to influenced the poorly educated with promises of salvation, heaven, and, yes, Ottoman glory. More banal, but manifestly true, are the free bags of coal and care packages distributed in return for promises of votes.

The “incredible growth” experienced by the country has been at the expense of national assets that have been sold wholesale to foreign interest groups, and the apparent rise in affluence has been on credit, with people borrowing more and more to cover their accumulated debts.

Regarding that line about “power unsurpassed since Ottoman times...“, at the height of it’s power in the way back in the 17th century it was a bullying expansionist state as all empires indeed are. Later it fell into dissolution and disintegration as all empires eventually do. Check out the phrase “the sick man of Europe” and see to whom it applied!

That the military has been forced back into their barracks is often considered a triumph for democracy in post-Fascist Europe, but that would not explain why Chief of Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, so democratically neutral, so careful in his uninvolvement, is so strongly criticized and hated by so many. Whatever people have said afterwards, not a single one of the three military interventions in the history of the Turkish Republic has been against the wishes and the expectations of the people, seeing as they all came after periods of uncontrolled chaos.[2] The armed forces are a legitimate, constitutional organization entrusted with the protection and defense of a country’s land, people, and institutions. If the police, which is widely suspected of serving foreign interests on religious grounds,[3] and can no longer be expected to protect the citizens and the institutions of the country, is it a merit for the armed forces to remain in its barracks?

I am writing this article on June 16th. Last night the police forced its way into the “Promenade (Gezi) Park” again. Worried, I sent an SMS to someone very close to us, who frequently goes to the park, said Ihad heard about the park being very active and asking if she was alright. This was the reply.

“Yes, ‘active’ is an insufficient description. I am in Izmit (i.e., she wasn’t there) the police completely vacated the Gezi Park and exercised serious violence. I sent a few photos. The “tomas”[4] squirted chemicals instead of water, people got first degree burns on their skins. People got crushed under the ‘tomas’”.[5] (She is a doctor, with contact to other doctors on the spot, so her report is not to be taken lightly!)

Terrorists assembled in park; the police just had to get rid of them!
 (Image from the media.)

Burns from pressurized water allegedly mixed with chemicals.
(Image from the media.) 

More burns from the same reason.
(Image from the media.)

Well, the soldiers are in their barracks, so this must still be a democracy, so whopeeee!

[1] The original wording:
“...Il a raison de rappeler que’en dix ans de pouvoir, lui et le AKP ont été élus, puis réélus régulièrement, et que son partie représente la moitié du peuple turc. Son pays a connu une croissance remarcable , il a remis les militaires dans les casernes, et la Turquie et redevenue une puissance indépasséé depuis l’Empire ottoman...”
[2] The three times the military actively intervened were on May 27th, 1960, March 12th 1970, and September 12th 1980. All three were in circumstances of anarchy and extreme violence.The AKP also likes to count the National Security Council Resolutions of February 28th, 1997, as a  fourth “coup”, and has been busily arresting officers and also civilians, now aged and mostly retired, who were in someway involved. At the time the press had been very vocal regarding the dangers of rising fundamentalism, against which the resolutions were passed.
The moral cost of keeping the soldiers in their barracks has been very high; fabricated evidence, false witnesses and outright blackmail have been employed to bring it about, with the collusion of an infiltrated police and compromised judiciary. Most of this blog has been about this wide-ranging, devious operation to deprive the Republic of Turkey of its defenders.
[3] Much has been written and discussed about the infiltration of the Gülen sect, serving US interests, infiltrating the police and the judiciary.
[4] A “toma” is an armored police vehicle that is equipped to squirt pressurized water. “Toma” is an acronym for “Vehicle for Intervening in Public Incidents” (Toplumsal Olaylara Müdahele Aracı)
[5] Original text message:
“Evet hareket az kalır ben izmitteyim ama gezi parkını tamamen polis boşalttı ve ciddi şiddet uyguladı bir kaç foto gonderdim. Tomalar su yerine kimyasal sıktı ciltlerinde birinci derece yanık oldu. İnsanlar ezildi tomaların altında.”

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