Posted two photos on Instagram with two captions. The first imaged a flag and read By day: a symbol of pride. And the second pictured people with flares marching down Istiklal Street in Taksim [above] which I captioned, By night: puppets of the president. The first comment that my eye caught was, “you don’t know what it’s like to live in a regime.” The rest were much longer, and on impulse —worried I had ignorantly crossed a line in these statements—I deleted it before even reading the rest. In hindsight, I should have read them all thoroughly, before I removed my photos because after contacting some of the commenters, we were in agreement. While I acknowledge that I have no formal grounds of investment, what I am seeing today makes me genuinely fear for the future of Turkey and my friends, their families, and the countless others who are struggling here now.
In just the last five days:
- Search and Seizure protections have been revoked. (Warrants are no longer needed.)
- Imams have been given to reciting AKP prepared speeches at the conclusions of some of their prayers.
- Telephone Providers send mass texts urging people to gather in public squares on a nightly basis.(For example, txt I received from my provider Turkcell: …milleti demokrasinin yaninda durmaya, iradesine sahip cikmaya,velayete gecit vermemeye, bunun cinin taskinlik yapmadan alanlara cikmaya davet ediyoruz. I don’t speak Turkish but according to Google translate this means something like “… to stand beside the nation’s democracy, the will with the emergence, giving custody to the gate valve, the furor it to space without demons are invited to emergence.”) I have received no less than 24 of these messages since Friday and they continue to arrive on a daily basis.
- Public transportation has been free for nearly a week now (paid for by tax payers I might add). Why? Because it facilitates assembly.
- More, but I don’t have time at the moment to list the rest.
Just last night, over 1,500 University deans were laid off in forced resignation throughout the country. How many dictatorships began with the persecution of intellectuals? I fail to see how this reinforces democracy. Speaking with a friend about this, the word that word referenced was purge. There is an absolute disregard for due process. How many laws have been changed in the last five days which have been unannounced to the public? Reckless government insulation is quite literally undoing the framework of a democratic institution that was loosely adhered to even in the best of times.
Structural Changes Evident Prior to last Friday:
- Parliament lifted certain deputies’ parliamentary immunities (Law No. 6178, enacted in May). This resulted in the persecution of 57 from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), 55 from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), 29 from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), 10 from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and independent deputy, Aylin Nazlıaka.
- Judicial Reforms: reallocations of powers to the executive in 2010.
- Public Education Curriculum Adjustments
- Indiscriminate Anti-terrorism laws. Erdogan’s tolerance of Daesh (ISIS) has been a lingering black mark on Turkey’s admission application to the EU.
Further skewing the scales, after the events of 1980 and 1997, nearly all functional vestiges of left-leaning political parties were crippled after their members were either imprisoned, executed, or barred from their positions.There are 550 seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Currently, 317 of them (58%) are held by AKP, 133 by CHP (24%), 59 by HDP (11%), 40 by MHP (7%), plus a single Independent member. There is no balance in parliament, a majority of generals are allegiant to the AKP (in spite of recent events), AKP initiated constitutional reforms in 2010 seeking increased control over the secular judiciary. There is nothing preferable about another military coup and the devastation it would bring, but the dominance of AKP is no accident.
Correct me if I am imagining the horns and sirens blaring with blind pride through the day and night. A close friend remarked, “Before I used to fear my government. Now I fear the person beside me in the street.” The actions taken in the wake of the coup by the president have been nothing but inflammatory.
I revoked both the photo and my caption out of a fear that I had ignorantly overstepped boundaries, but I stand by my original statements. While I may not say much, even my smallest comments are not spoken offhandedly. I apologize for the offense I may have caused, but not for my position. My opinions on observation and quantitative information, but if I am ill-informed let me know.
I decided to re-post this photo because I believe it should be acknowledged, and there are fewer consequences for myself as a foreigner than those who have many more things to say than I. With that said, all insights are welcome.
PS. To clarify:
The Turkish flag is a symbol of pride, and it ought to be. But its abuse and misuse comes less from Turkey’s citizens than the administration who have prodded epicenters of pride within its people. I do not revoke my previous saying that those who unquestionably obey Erdoğan act as puppets, but I will add that this victimizes themselves as much their fellow citizens. Also, there are a significant number of people, such as those government employees whose attendance is marked at these rallies and whose absence is severely punished. For them, my former comments are not applicable whatsoever. I have never met a Turkish national who was not proud of their country, and the abuse of this passion is a tactic of manipulation by the uppermost strata of the government.