After murmurs of revival jerks, the anti-government demonstrations originating in Istanbul’s Gezi Park are coming back to life. Yesterday, an innocent 15 year-old became the latest casualty of the government’s controversial use of police force. The boy, Berkin Elvan, was struck in the side of the head by a tear gas canister launched by the Turkish Polis while he was out getting bread. From this extreme contrast of innocence and violence, the young teenager’s image has come to be a symbol for the resistance movement.
The protests commenced after the boy’s parents announced their beloved son’s death on social media. A vigil was conducted outside the hospital he remained in a coma for the past 269 days. Crowds flocked to the scene to pay their respects, but the police immediately resorted to their controversial tactics involving tear gas- even in such close proximately to the hospital’s entrance.
Yesterday’s protests marked as the biggest protests since Gezi Park. Thousands flocked to the streets in several districts all over Istanbul as well as over dozens of cities in Turkey and even around the world.
Do to the role as an organisational tool, social media outlets are seen as threatening to the government. Merely weeks ago, PM Erdoğan passed a controversial censorship law in which he can over-ride and shut down any site at any time- without a just cause. With the protests formulating predominately through Twitter, that site was completely shutdown yesterday evening in an attempt to stop others from taking to the streets. Other main media outlets, such as Facebook and YouTube, are next on the block list.
The protests of yesterday reflect a raw, emotionally charged sentiment and both the protestors and the reaction of the police exemplify this.
The demonstrators consisted of an array of people- transcending age as well as gender lines. Demonstrators marched with pictures of Berkin Elvan as well as carried signs condemning his killers and the assumed man responsible for the operation, PM Erdoğan. As the night progressed, the numbers decreased but protestors that remained became more aggressive by embracing tactics of vandalism, throwing debris, burning trash and public property, banging on buildings, screaming, anything to get the attention of the police and provoke them.
Turkish Police reacted in a way that has strangely become routine. Crowd control with men on the crowd firing tear rubber bullets and tear gas, men manning the TOMA water cannons, and hundreds waiting in armored police buses on-call. Even with the emotional tension being so pungent one could almost smell it in Istanbul’s air, the insecure government’s right hand could not play a passive role and was forced to play a mildly aggressive one to be a more equally matched and have a chance against the protestors.
Mass protests are expected to increase as the week progresses with foreshadowed images of correlating violence.
Today marks a new day- Berkin Elvan’s funeral service is this afternoon which will be followed by expected violence from the same force that took the youngster’s life. Already, the voice of sirens echo round the city and over power the call to prayer. As the work week wanes, it can be anticipated that protests will get progressively worse.
The protest commenced today (12 March 2014) at 12:00 as it surrounded Elvan’s funeral service at Okmeydani Cemevi. The funeral procession will proceed from Şişli Square to Feriköy cemetery at 15:00 followed by protests increasing in size as the day progresses.
(Şişli/Feriköy, İstanbul, Türkiye)
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After diving deep into the politics in Turkey, it is even more apparent that its existence is merely a complicated clusterfuck that bleeds into many arenas of chaos, corruption and controversy in which contaminants opinions with censorship and confusion. My attempt has been to significantly organise factual evidence, data and statistics to better comprehend the situation for myself as well as get it to a functional form in which I can share my research with the Turkish people as well as foreign media outlets.
My opinion has been requested regarding the topic of the Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan from both Westerners and Turks.
It’s a game: regime change and regime installment.
Marketing is everything, and everything is marketing.
My understanding can best be illustrated in the context of marketing:
One could have the best product engineering, financial backing, operational mastery, et cetera, but the success of the product is ultimately determined by perception- how the customers perceive your product; it’s branding. This same idea from marketing can be applied to politics and politicians, both in domestic and international arenas. In the context of the U.S. Empire, this principle governs one of its main operations: regime construction and puppet installation as well as deconstruction and reverse marketing engineering. The U.S. uses the same principle of marketing to bring down entire regimes they built and take down their own puppets. The current reversal of both Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s domestic and world image can best be conceptually understood with this idea of reverse marketing engineering.
For the past twelve years, the U.S. has aided in the branding, marketing, and promoting of Turkey’s AKP (justice and development) Party and its leader, Erdogan. The U.S. helped to paint the image of the AKP’s Turkey as being democratically sound, fair, just, and as being the ideal model of a democratic government for the Islamic world.
The following are examples of branding and marketing tactics executed by the U.S. media outlets as the crucial actors strategically planning and constructing the perspective most beneficial for the U.S. Empire:
1. CNN: One of the top media sources marketing the perception of Turkey in favour of the U.S.
“Turkey, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), as a model of a modern, democratic and Islamic nation nurturing pluralist ideals.”
“Rather than viewing Turkey’s increasing currency in the region as a challenge, America should see it as an opportunity. From its free-market economic system, which is registering Chinese-level growth, to its compatible ideals, the promotion of the Turkish model is in America’s national interest. Turkey effectively counters militant groups by challenging them from within Muslim society while also representing a crucial bridge between the West and the Muslim world.”
“America can immediately take practical steps to promote the Turkish model by encouraging the Egyptian army to move the nation toward a genuine, civilian-elected government.”
2. NPR: Another top media outlet that functions uniquely through its disguised perception as being independent and non-profit.
3. Middle-of-the-road sources
“Turkey’s rising trajectory was highlighted by the rock-star reception accorded to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his recent tour of the Arab Spring states of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya and his high-profile meetings during the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly.”
“Many find the Turkish model enticing, with the moderate Islamic Justice and Development Party, known as AKP, in office; a secular constitution in place; a strong military that is subservient to the elected civilian authority; and an economy that has been expanding.”
“Overall there’s hope that a new democratic era in the Middle East and North Africa will enable Arabs to develop a new paradigm for relations with the West. This paradigm would be based on equality and partnership – a position that Turkey has already achieved.”
4. BBC: International marketing outlets also played a key role in expanding the brand as a globally accepted concept.
5. The White House: Symbolic figures also played a unique role in justifying and promoting alliances and legitimation of the brand and advertising it with a stamp of approval and confirmation.
“I just want to say how much I appreciate the opportunity to once again meet with my friend and colleague, Prime Minister Erdogan. I think it’s fair to say that over the last several years, the relationship between Turkey and the United States has continued to grow across every dimension. And I find Prime Minister Erdogan to be an outstanding partner and an outstanding friend on a wide range of issues.”
The U.S. Empire spent over a decade marketing its ideal puppet in the Middle East and promoted the AK Party and Erdoğan as being the model for democracy in the Islamic world. Abruptly, sentiments changed and the AK Party reached their expiration. Almost over-night, the party went from democratic to despotic, from democracy-loving to dictator, from squeaky clean to utterly corrupt, from moderate to extremist. What the hell happened?
The following are some examples of the sudden reversal in branding and marketing in which is best presented by comparing and contrasting the language and sentiments from those of the examples from above. (Keep the dates in mind, for the time sequence between the decade-long branding/marketing and the now reverse branding/marketing.)
“Erdogan ‘is offering unfortunate proof that it is possible to be both elected and authoritarian.'”
“Many journalists say press freedoms in Turkey have declined under his rule. Reporters Without Borders says Turkey ‘is currently the world’s biggest prison for journalists, especially those who express views critical of the authorities on the Kurdish issue.'”
“Many secular Turks complain that the Islamist-rooted government is intolerant of criticism and diverse lifestyles, as evidenced by the recent enactment of tight restrictions on the sale of alcohol, Fadi Hakura, manager of the Turkey Project at the London-based think tank Chatham House, said in a CNN.com column.”
2. Wall Street Journal
3. The Jerusalem Post
4. The London Economic
6. Commentary Magazine
8. The Times
Seriously, how did this 180 turn happen? No one can be transformed from democratic to fascist dictator in a matter of few months. No person can switch from fair and squeaky clean to utterly tainted and corrupt. Nobody can convert from being a moderate Islamist to an extremist bigot in less than a year.
What is even more peculiar is the fact that the U.S. has even resorted to using the “Terrorist” label in the reverse branding-marketing of their previous puppet prodigy. You know what it means when they play the terrorist card, right?
The following is an article that establishes Erdoğan’s ties with a famous man designated as a terrorist (but only when it is convenient for the U.S.):
“Turkey’s political crisis took a dark turn this week. Photos of Prime Minister Erdoğan’s son meeting a suspected al-Qaeda financier in an Istanbul hotel were leaked to the press. The photos allegedly show Bilal Erdoğan meeting Saudi Arabian businessman Yasin al-Qadi, whom the US blacklisted in April 2013 as an al-Qaeda funder. According to media reports, Qadi, who visits Turkey frequently and was escorted by the Prime Minister’s security men, met Bilal to discuss a deal for a juicy piece of real estate worth $1 billion in Istanbul’s Etiler neighborhood.”
Note: The refuge of Al Qadi in Turkey and his ties to Erdoğan, along with other high-level figures in Turkey, had been known for more than a decade.
“Qadi’s relationship with Turkey and the Erdoğan family goes back a few years. In 2004 the Wall Street Journal uncovered transactions worth more than $1 million between Qadi and Maram, a Turkish front company that funded terrorists in Yemen. Associates of Qadi’s, including managers at Maram, are known funders and founders of al-Qaeda. Qadi has frequently and vehemently denied the accusations and spent a lot of money trying to clear his name. But at the very least, his dealings in Turkey are suspicious. According to opposition lawmakers, his presence in the country is illegal.”
Old news, but it doesn’t matter- dirt is dirt and can be exposed only when it is convenient. It also doesn’t matter that the U.S. government did not have problems with al Qadi and several other high-level terrorists operating out of Turkey for over ten years. Really, it doesn’t matter at all and the branding-marketing branch of the U.S. empire will continue to use the terrorist card:
“According to findings by investigators leaked to Turkish media, Yasin Al Qadi is suspected of involvement in a scandal over the sale of land in an upmarket neighborhood in Istanbul. His alleged meeting last year with Bilal Erdogan could implicate the prime minister’s family in the affair. The allegations could not come at a worse time for Mr. Erdoğan, whose government is reeling from a series of corruption allegations.”
“Not everyone agrees with this picture of Al Qadi. ‘I know Mr. Qadi,’ Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a local television news station in July 2006. “I believe in him as I believe in myself. For Mr. Qadi to associate with a terrorist organization, or support one, is impossible.”
“Back to Turkey: Al Qadi is not just a friend of Prime Minister Erdogan, but he’s close to a group of Islamic businessmen and politicians around the prime minister. It has already been widely reported in the press, mostly notably in a Wall Street Journal article in August 2007, that Al Qadi was a major and early investor in BIM, a food retailer originally founded in the mid-1990s by entrepreneurial brothers Aziz and Cuneyd Zapsu. According to Al Qadi’s lawyer, the Saudi exited BIM in 1999, despite reports to the contrary, and well before his controversial U.N. listing.”
“Kacar’s 2004 Al Qadi report, delivered under what the investigator said was intense pressure to complete his probe, cited evidence that Al Qadi’s companies in Turkey were transferring funds between 1997 and 2001 far in excess of both companies’ net incomes, and were still operating at the time of the report. Wired funds he traced from various companies and individuals went to, among others, a ‘charity’ and other individuals branded terrorists or terrorist fronts by international investigators; there was reason to continue his investigations, Kacar wrote.”
I strongly recommend that you to read the entire investigative article. Prior to the terrorist attacks in September 2001, the F.B.I. was fully aware of Al Qadi’s operations with key al Qaeda figures. On top of this, there were several investigations along with operations that targeted the activity of Al Qadi and his network in the United States prior to 9/11 (some of these investigations were based in the F.B.I.’s Washington Field Office, while others were being conducted from the FBI’s Chicago Field Office).
The State Department and the C.I.A. pressured the F.B.I. before and after 9/11 to close and cover-up those investigations pertaining to Turkey and Al Qadi, because exposing those operations would have resulted in exposure of covert CI.A.-N.A.T.O. operations in Central Asia and the Caucasus during the period between 1996 and 2002.
The terrorist card is being played as a marketing tool, and it will continue to be played. The favourite puppet, who was previously characterised and openly promoted as being an ideal, moderate and democratic leader has been reshaped is Erdoğan is now being reintroduced to the public, in Turkey and abroad, as despotic, a dictator, corrupt, and a terrorist. Here is the million lira question: why?
The downfall of Turkey’s Erdoğan began with a feud between him and the C.I.A.-created Muslim Preacher, Imam Fethullah Gülen. One cannot truly comprehend the downfall of Erdoğan without knowing the importance and power of C.I.A.’s Fethullah Gülen. Not much has been analysed, reported, and exposed of the Imam and his multi-billion dollar Islamic network and correlating operations around the globe (which has been fully orchestrated as well as backed by the C.I.A.
The following is a recent article that delves into Erdogqan countering the C.I.A.’s Mullah Gülen’s operations and network in Turkey:
“Turkish police raided offices of a government-backed Islamic charity in six provinces on Tuesday and detained at least 23 people accused of having links with Al Qaeda, local media reported. The coordinated operation against the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH, prompted the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to sack the senior police official responsible for conducting the raid at the charity’s Kilis headquarters, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.”
For Erdoğan, the feud with Imam Fethullah Gülen transcends to a a rift with the C.I.A. This tension anticipates doom in terms of expiration. Once a puppet is considered expired, the reversal branding and marketing begins in which all old skeletons are dug out of the deep closets and leaked to the media. Erdoğan;s previously overlooked human rights violations are observed and scrutinized under a microscope.
All U.S.-installed puppets and regimes must commit to the U.S.’s commandments- this is the political reality. If you don’t play by the Imperial rules, you get thrown out of the game by being disgraced, exposed, uninstalled, and possibly be sentenced to death. Just look at the history of the past century. When an installed puppet gets too confident and and ignores at least commandment, their images is reconstructed as dictators, despots, human rights violators, and terrorists. This is the time when their backyards get dug up to find a microscopic trace of weapons of mass destruction.
So, what was Erdoğan’s crime? Did he get too confident? Did he violate a commandment or two? The media would like to paint it like he did:
“Turkey has said that it is likely to buy a new missile defense program from a Chinese firm, unnerving NATO and American diplomats. A Reuters report from earlier this month said that Turkey is ‘highly likely’ to buy the $3.4 billion program, from a firm under American sanctions, no less.”
“Washington has reacted with concern over the decision of Turkey’s Defense Industry Executive Committee (SSIK), the absolute authority on the country’s defense projects and procurement, to acquire China’s FD-2000 system to fill the NATO member’s high-altitude and long-range air defense gap. The committee met on Sept. 26 with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to enter into contract negotiations with the state-owned China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corporation.”
Another majour rule violation:
“During a trip to Russia in November, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again said that Ankara would abandon its quest to join the European Union if it was offered full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.”
“Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped that bomb on Jan. 25. With Turkish hopes for the EU membership diminishing, he declared the SCO to be a viable alternative to the European Union. ‘I said to Russian President Vladimir Putin, ‘You tease us, saying, ‘what [is Turkey] doing in the EU?’ Now I tease you: Include us in the Shanghai Five and we will forget about the EU.’”
Three majour commandment violations:
- Thou shalt not buy weapons from China or Russia regardless of quality or price advantage.
- Thou shalt only feed the U.S.’s own fat Military Industrial Complex players.
- A puppet shall only be a member of clubs solely owned and operated by the U.S.; joining others’ clubs, even thinking of joining others’ clubs, shall come with severe retribution. (A rule that has been written with in-erasable ink).
Three strikes, you’re out. Erdoğan’s expiration clock is running out. It is impossible for one with such a row with the C.I.A. to maintain legitimacy and control. While he still has seconds on the clock, this doomed man should use his final fragments of power to seek shelter- a refuge.
Enthusiastic Protest with Fireworks in Kadıköy
Today, the murder trial of Mehmet Ayvalıtaş provoked thousands of people to gather outside the courthouse this afternoon. The police attacked the protestors at the courthouse and they eventually relocated the demonstration to the center of Kadıköy (Boğa Heykeli). The community of protestors decided to walk to the AKP’s regional builiding in the district of Kadıköy where the police predicably reacted with the TOMA water cannons as well s tear gas. The third demonstration in Kadıköy was conducted this evening as a heightened, enthusiastic response by the protestors with the usage of fireworks. Kadıköy has not been the centre of a protest of great size since October (with the exception of the “corruption” riots of December). This is significant for protestors to face the coldness of Turkish winter to get their message across.
The fabled ideal conception of “democracy” has been defined as being a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally which is supposedly done either directly or through elected representatives. This idea encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the “free” and “equal” practice of self-determination in terms of politics.
This concept is arguably controversial in all contexts where it has been executed and in its various abstractions, interpretations along with all of it corresponding glories , short-comings and failures.
In my observations abroad, the pillars of debate in regards to Turkey (with additional respects to Egypt and Tunisia) are as follows:
Majoritarian versus Representative forms of democracy.
This concept refers to the form of democracy that is based upon the majority rule of a nation’s citizens and is the “conventional form” that which is used as the basis of political social structure in many modern states.
This common form is not universally accepted for it has been greatly criticized posing the threat of becoming a “tyranny of the majority” whereby the majority (ruling class) of a society could oppress or exclude minority groups. Contrasting this fearful idea, consensus democracy was developed as an antithesis of such for it emphasizes rule by as many people as possible tin order to promote the ideal to make the government inclusive (this is executed with a majority of support from society merely being a minimal threshold). It differs from trends of fascism for the it assumes equality of citizens and they claim that it is a form of authoritarian democracy (that represents the views of a dynamic organized minority of a nation as opposed to the disorganized majority).
2. Representative (republican) Democracy
Contrasting the former is representative democracy (also referred to as “indirect democracy or “republican democracy”) which based on the principle of elected officials representing a group of people, as opposed to direct democracy. This variation transcends to all modern “Western”-style democracies such as theUnited Kingdom (a constitutional monarchy) and Poland (a parliamentary republic). This contains elements of both the parliamentary and presidential systems of government as well as is it is generally curtailed by constitutional constraints such as an upper chamber. As it modifies certain aspects of the ideal definition of democracy as I first states, this has been further described and identified by some political theorists as being a polyarchy.
Keeping the terms defined in mind, it goes without saying that the road to democracy is a process rather than being an event that occurs instantly overnight– it requires an ongoing struggle.
Struggles, conflict, and confusion are, unfortunately, all inevitably linked. Within the political atmosphere that clouds the Middle East is a distinguishable fog that rains an undeniable conceptual confusion of conceptions that on wets the acute political alienation of the societal elements that feel subject to both a governmental leadership as well as a policy agenda that bleeds the ideal color s of democracy and leaves hostilities to their particular interests and values as residue. The worst environments for such a glum forecast are where they are most prevalent– in the “one-man shows” that consequently allows for the correlation of both adoration and demonization.
Specific national contexts reflect history, culture, values, and such referring to an ideal zeitgeist in which empowers and unites the nation’s identity and resonates in its psyche. Paralleling these are the relating sense of common experiences and similarities that are both skeptical and critical of certain Western “hegemonic” conceptions of modernity, constitutionalism, and governance. I have found the archetype of such abstraction in the illustrated representation in Turkey.
The conflicting sentiments of above in the context of Turkey has generated turmoil as well as it has highlighted both the dangers and passions of lethal polarization.This was formulated, initially, within the drama of Gezi Park and its repercussions and has now grown into the incomprehensibly enormous clash between Prime Minister Erdogan and the exiled Islamic leader Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey’s situation is very unique in a peculiar way for two distinct reasons:
1. The economy of Turkey has grown exponentially within the past eleven years. The development has subsequently produced a flourishing middle class as well as a dominant business community that has a lot at stake if both investor confidence and currency exchange rates steeply drop. This reality is complicated by the fact that part of those that have gained economically have been aligned with the AKP, and by the degree to which the Turkish armed forces are also major stakeholders in the private sector.
2. Another critical achievement of the past eleven year reign of the AKP leadership has been to depoliticize the role of the Turkish military. This has been partially justified to protect itself against interference as well as another factor being that of meeting the standards of the EU accession criteria.
From Turkey’s situation, which applies to mutual tensions in nearby Islamic nations, are elements of absence of common, political community, past preoccupations and
With these distinctions that shape Turkey, alienation fused with emotional distress have become symptoms (rather than explanations) for justifying the existence of such a strong political charge.
These conflicts are about religion, social stratification, class, status, political style, and varied opinions of governmental control. Complimenting this is an additional source of public antagonism that is the unresolved (and sketchily unacknowledged) debate about the true nature of democracy as the ideal for “good” governance. One perplexing element is language, especially its use by politicians concerned with public opinion.
One side of the argument contains the strong desire to base the legitimacy of governmental on pleasing the citizenry while the other side insists upon constitutionalism as well as fidelity to law. Both sides are motivated by stubborn, unchangeable convictions and they both refuse to take into account the others position as being valid or legitimate which makes compromise a far-fetched whim. In synthesis, “good governance” is virtually impossible without a sense of community. From this, social unity is currently unattainable in the presence of the sort of alienation that grips the public sector of Turkey and beyond.
Other aspects of the controversy are simplified into the difference of opinion over the ideal nature of democracy and which elements are necessary to make a government legitimate. The two opponents in Turkey being those of majoritarian and representative distinctions of democracy.
The central tension within this is as follows:
The publicly conceived myth (in all countries that deem themselves to be “modern”) is that legitimacy lives in endorsing the republican tradition of “limited government” as well as internal checks and balances. Political culture says otherwise for it is decidedly ambivalent for it can spontaneously legitimize the majoritarian prerogatives of a popular leader with strong societal backing. Those displaced, lament authoritarian tendencies that never troubled them in the past when they held the reins of governmental authority.
An element of the most recent confusion entails that, on occasion, the authoritarian tendency gets corrupted to the breaking point where it loses support with the people that share both its class and ideological outlook; from this, a reformist enthusiasm emerges. This has not happened in zTurkey but nearby Egypt, the tenure was short lived as its adherents (whom were drawn from the ranks of the urban educated elites) quickly realized that their values along with their interests were dangerously jeopardized by the “new” order– more so than it had been by the excesses of the “old” order. This was not, however, the case in Turkey. In Turkey, the situation is more subtle yet exhibits analogous features. Despite the outcome of elections that brought the AKP to power initially in 2002, it was subsequently reinforced by the stronger electoral mandates in both 2007 and 2012 (although the majority of the opposition never accepted these results as legitimate). In the background of this alienation, there was an implicit and feared belief that the AKP was mounting a challenge to the strong secularist legacy of Kemal Ataturk (an under-ratedly powerful idea). With political acumen, the AKP acted pragmatically and created a rapid-growing economy where it proclaimed its fidelity to the secular creed. From this, it gradually subjected its armed forces to civilian control. Despite the magnitude of these achievements the AKP , the prime minister never gained respect from the anti-religious opposition. Strangely, this “alienated opposition” was never able to present a platform for responsible opposition that could give a possible positive alternative to the Turkish public.
To further the understanding of Turkey’s political roots, it is appropriate to mention that the legacy of Ataturk’s nation includes an acceptance of “procedural democracy” in the form of free and fair elections that are accompanied by the apparently implied assumption that the outcome would be faithful to a modernist appetite. When the AKP disappointed those expectations in 2002, the opposition became quickly fed up with the workings of “democracy”. Erdogan’s harsh style of discourse is particularly irritating to an already alienated opposition, reinforcing their belief that any alternative is better for Turkey than the AKP. Similarly, the still obscure public falling out between the AKP and the “hizmet movement” has inscribed a new dimension in Turkish politics. It is not extreme to suggest that Turkey is currently experiencing some of the mishaps associated with keeping a political party in power for too long. Such prolonged control of government almost inevitably produces scandal and corruption, especially in a political culture where both the rule of law and the ethics of civic virtue have never been strong.
So, the debate of which form of the Western conceptualization of democracy is legitimate prevails. In reiteration and synthesis, the majoritarian form of democracy allows for the leadership to be essentially responsible to the electorate and (f its policies reflect the will of the majority) the perspective and values of opposed minorities do not need to be respected. Critiques of such call for such forms of government to be treated as susceptible to the “tyranny of the majority”. Such is arguably the case in Egypt (Morsi in 2012).
In contrast, representative democracy spawns from a generally skeptical view of human nature and it consequently seeks for procedures and support to nurture a specific political culture– one that favors moderate government over both efficiency and transcendent leadership. Par example: the American adoption of “republican democracy” that is a classic instance of sculpting a constitutional system that was threatened by majorities and protective of minorities as well as of individual rights (although initially totally blind to the human claims of slaves and native Americans). Secularization has tarnished the link between religious claims of certainty with the consistent republican sensitivity to the flaws of human nature and the general ethos behind “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Over time, every political system faces crises– it is inevitable. the American founders realized that the envisioned arrangements would only survive the tests of time if two conditions were met: first, reverence for the constitution by both lawmakers and citizens, and second, judicial supremacy to override legislative and executive swings towards either implementing the momentary passions of the mob or aggrandizing power and authority, and thereby upsetting the delicate balance of institutions.
It need hardly be argued that neither Turkey (nor Egypt and others) are remotely similar to the United States, but the superficial embrace of democracy might benefit from closely examining the menace of majoritarian democracy in a fragmented polity as well as to make note of the difficulties in establishing a representative democracy in political cultures that have been controlled by militarism and authoritarianism for a long time.
At current, Turkey is attempting to preserve both sufficient stability and consensus to enable the self-restrained persistence of “procedural democracy” and a subsequent successful process of constitutional renewal that would rid the country of the 1982 militarist vision of governance, and move it towards establishing the institutional and procedural frame and safeguards associated with representative democracy. Visions relating to an ideal, democratic future for Turkey greatly call for a process, not an event. Such an objective will require an on-going struggle that is inevitably distracted by the crises of legitimacy to be adequately obtained. The general hope is that calm minds and soft power will prevail which would mean for the serving of long-term interests of a state that transcends into a greater potential of being a true role model for the region and for the world.
In a recent survey conducted among men by the Happy Kids Association (Mutlu Çocuklar Derneği) and Kırıkkale University’s Application and Research Center for Women’s Problems in the seven major cities of Turkey, Turkish men were asked the question:
Is violence against women tolerable?
34 percent of Turkish men believe that domestic violence is ok sometimes; in fact, they believe that violence against women is “occasionally necessary.”
Another 30 percent of the men polled believe that violence “with a cause” is acceptable in a survey conducted in the seven major cities in Turkey.
About 28 percent said that violence could be used to discipline women.
The objective of the survey was to identify both the perspectives of men and women on domestic violence in Turkey. It was the first of its kind conducted solely on men, not women as stated by Dolunay Şenol, who is the department chair for sociology at Kırıkkale University.
Another survey, the “Nationwide Survey on Violence against Women,” consisted of men and women over the age of 18 in which the participants were interviewed to identify their perceptions about violence against women. The survey was carried out in Adana, Ankara, Istanbul, İzmir, Erzurum, Trabzon and Malatya, and each city was represented by 500 men and women.
The main sentiment that came from this survey was the idea of a “good enough reason” to act violently against women. According to this survey, 34 percent of men said “violence is occasionally necessary,” 18 percent agreed with the statement that “the man is the ruler of the house and is free to use violence when necessary,” 30.9 percent of men think that violence with a cause is acceptable, 37.6 percent expressed that some principles (such as honor, decency and discipline) render violence necessary, 23.4 percent of men say that violence is acceptable if women “provoke it,” 11.5 percent of men declared that they have the “right to use violence,” and 11.8 percent found it absolutely necessary to punish women when they cross their husbands.
Şenol expressed the need for both men and women to be educated to prepare for a harmonious marriage, not only women. “Individuals must go through training on communication within the household and domestic violence. The family comes for counseling and training only after experiencing a problem; however, it is very difficult to change the relationships after [such a problem].”
The call for education in order to reduce to high rates of domestic violence in Turkey, yet the execution of such has not been adequately addressed. What is the result of the neglect to act?
The New York Times did a story that highlights the effects of the negligence to resolve this problem through the interview of Gokce, a 38 year old domestic violence victim living in a women’s shelter in Istanbul with her two children. Gokce has been on the run from her obsessive and abusive husband for 16 years. Her story includes her husband tracking her down, breaking down her door and shooting her in the leg six times for refusing to return to an unhealthy, hostile home as well as stories of her husband kidnapping her mother and stabbing her brother as a makeshift form of blackmail to reveal his wife’s whereabouts.
“Our state is the #1 enemy of women. I was 14 when my husband started to abuse me, and now I am 38 and I am still living in hear for my life despite all of my cries for help.”
As reliable statistics are difficult to obtain (especially regarding the fact that experts in Turkey suggest a sense of serious under-reporting of domestic violence crimes), many equal rights groups have pointed out major, high-profile attacks to sound the alarm that Turkey is backsliding on women’s rights. This culture war that entails women’s roles in society that mirrors the greater tensions in a predominantly Muslim country in which the state’s official secularism clashes with an ascendant class of far-right, religious conservatives. According to statistics, the rise of such party has caused men to appear to be increasingly acting with impunity against women with an increase of 207,253 reported cases of deliberate injuries to women across Turkey from 189,377 reported the year previously (official data collected by the National Police Headquaters in Ankara).
Other reports, such as a recently published U.N. report, indicate that the incidence of domestic violence against women in Turkey have topped the percentages in the U.S. and in Europe. This report was based on data from a study conducted by the Turkish government that interviewed 12,875 women across 12 regions. Of this study, 39 percent of Turkish women had suffered from physical violence and hostility at some point in their lives (this is compared to 22 percent in the U.S. and between 3-35 percent in 20 European countries).
There has also been a shocking increase in the number of reported murders of women: from 66 in 2002 to 953 in just the first half of 2009. In 2002, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party of the Justice and Development party came into power with the main objective for Turkey to become a member country of the European Union. With this, women’s right were made a priority and all laws that discriminated against women were banned as well as new laws with the objective to protect women (such as criminalizing rape within a marriage, and making harsher sentences for those guilty of “honor killings”) were created. Since Turkey has been accepted into the E.U., women’s rights are now waning and are put on the back burner.
The conservative parties of Turkey, especially the governing party, claim to be advocates for social conservatism in terms of pro-family traditions and values. Debating this, a senior analyst at the European Stability Initiative (Nigar Goksel) conducted a majour study in Turkey and found that the rising domestic violence rates combined with women’s low participation in the work force (28 percent which is less than half the average of the E.U.) reflects that “family integrity” was valued more that “women’s individual rights.” Goksel went onto say in an interview that “the government started off as an unlikely feminist, but it has dropped the ball. Equally, the Arab Spring is pulling Turkey in a more conservative direction.
This is a huge debate. While there has been recent laws passed into legislation that are advocating women’s rights (such as a law that forces husbands that have been deemed “abusive” by authorities are legally obligated to wear electronic monitoring devices) as well as the issuing of proper training of police officers in regards to protecting women, this does not falter the fact that legislation (no matter how well-intentioned) cannot change deep, aggressive mentalities within a patriarchal society nor can it ensure that the new laws will be adequately implemented.
Every municipality in Turkey with more than 50,000 members is required (by Turkish law) to have at least one shelter for women. The current number of shelters nationwide is only 79- this is incredibly low for a country with a population of 80 million. A local government official in Ankara was reported to have told a conservative women’s group that opening more women’s shelters was “ill advised” because they enabled women to leave.
Finding legitimate protection is proving to be elusive.
Azru Yildirim was murdered. She was shot eight times by her partner in the middle of a busy street in Istanbul. She filed for legal protection against the man more than ten times. A copy of her last letter of complaint was found among her remains.
Where does the façade end and when does the real call to action begin?
Istanbul, Türkiye– I anticipated the excitement, the colours, the infinite sense of intensity, passion, wonder, and romanticism. It is truly impossible to describe properly. The first few hours after my arrival were as perfect as a postcard. When I was preparing for my big move, I had expected to gradually shift from the status of foreigner/tourist to eventually being accepted and, as I familiarised myself with the city, the later privilege of being upgraded to honorary local. I am humbled to say that I skipped the tourist step and was thrown into the role I will refer to as “blending in” as a local resident.
My timing of arrival could not have been more perfect (used relatively and perhaps ironically depending whether my mother is reading). My first night moving into the district of Kadıköy, Istanbul (Asian side of the Bosphorus) was the same night the Turkish police killed another civilian. 22 year old Ahmet Atakan: killed by a canister of tear gas by the Turkish government’s right arm: Türk polis. Outrage– another civilian casualty adds fuel to their fiery cause and consequently sparked more demonstrations all over Turkey.
I am currently writing an article regarding the political situation in Turkey at current. The situation is dense and traces back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. However, recent evolution of the new Ottomans begins in 2002 with the election of the AK Parti. The economic success of Turkey within the past decade is due to the AKP, however their manor of rule has been quite shady in terms of the people. Escalations of disagreements between the ruling party and the people of Turkey peaked in May 2013. The original cause was in Gezi Park, Taksim, Istanbul back in May (28th) in which the people voiced their opinions against the government’s decision to destroy one of the city’s last green spaces. The AKP maneuvered with confidence, but they did not expect the consequence of their action. Hard police action, the government reacted to the protestors with blunt force by gassing its own citizens. This turned the cause of the initial protest into an amplification of rage and triggered the protests to spread from Istanbul to a nationwide cause. Taksim Square, Istanbul and Ankara hoist the worst demonstrations in terms of aggression, hostility and violence, but more demonstrations are arising.
My first night in Kadıköy was also a particularly heated night in which another demonstration arose in Istanbul. Kadıköy Boğa Heykeli, a few blocks away from my new home in Caferağa Mahallesi, play host as a new venue of the Occupy Gezi Movement. As I looked out from my balcony, beyond exhausted and already feeling the inconvenience of jet lag, I first heard the chanting. This was about 21:00 local time. I had unpacked by this point, ventured through the neighbourhood, bought groceries, and cooked a housewarming meal with my Turkish roommate, Sebahat. We were eating pasta with cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh local cheese as the protestors were gathering. A few hours had passed and we could hear faint chants in the background as we cleaned the kitchen and went our separate ways. I was still functioning on eastern standard time so 2:00 felt like 19:00 to me. The yelling had gotten more aggressive and the wind was perfumed with smoke. As I sat at my desk lethargically and dazed attempting to strain my tired eyes into reading, I began to cough and noticed an unfamiliar burning sensation in the back of my throat, my nose and eyes. Confused, I acted instinctually without hesitation and rubbed my eyes profusely as I continued to gag. Wrong. I unknowingly experienced my first encounter and lesson to tear gas. It is almost like crystalized glass in the air and leaves residue on everything, therefore the worst thing you can do is follow your instincts and rub. I learned, and the sensation has gotten to be familiar already and I know the remedies and how to prepare for gas effectively now- a great, un-glorified skill to have.
Within the day of my arrival, I had already come to the realisation of what I truly would have to look forward to this year. There would be no frou-frou tourist fluff for me. I am a visiter, I am a guest, I am an objective observer taking notes and seeing political and cultural tension internally under a microscope. I was flushed with an empowering sensation that filled my being that I can only come to label as both appreciation and sheer excitement. I knew that my time here will be unscripted, unpredictable, and raw. No media framing, I will be seeing untainted stimuli– this is real.