Two Dictators, One is Dead

by    /  May 26, 2015  / No comments

Playwright, director and actor Kemal Kocatürk. Photo provided by author.

President Erdogan is following in the cruel footsteps of former President and leader of the 1980 military coup, Kenan Evren, but towards an oppressive, religion-based regime.

Censorship in Theater

Can (uttered like “John” in American English) Yücel was a major socialist poet famous for his wit and satirical poems. Director, playwright, and actor Kemal Kocatürk has brilliantly prepared and performed a monodrama based on his poems. When he wanted to perform it in Edirne, the governor demanded to read the text and then refused to allow the performance. Turkish PEN Center was among the protesters.

  1. Wor(l)ds in Danger, a column by Tarik Günersel
  2. Life is words in action, literature is action in words.
  3. Humans are about to destroy their spaceship Earth. Some of them are aware of this and they try to change the course of events. Will they succeed? Will more humans be alarmed and do something?
  4. Literature is vital and translators are messengers of world peace.
  5. Though I shall focus on the literary scene in Turkey and its problems regarding freedom of expression, I shall not omit the other parts of our planet. Today local is global and vice versa.
  6. Tarik Günersel
  7. Tarık Günersel worked as a dramaturg at Istanbul Metropolitan Theater. He has acted on stage and screen and directed some of his plays.
  8. Günersel’s works include the mosaic-epic Breaths of Infinity and the essay How’s your slavery goin’? His Becoming is a collection of his aphorisms and a selection of ideas from world wisdom. He has recently initiated the Earth Civilization Project with the support of several intellectuals from various parts of the planet. His short stories are available in one volume: My 300th Birthday Speech.
  9. Among his plays are The Golden Fleece; Nero and Agrippina, on the 17th c. Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV; Armored Wolf, on Lev Tolstoy and Sophia Tolstaya; Threat, a monodrama; Our Anne Frank, Half A Glass of Water, on the rise and execution of Prime Minister Adnan Menderes; and Billennium. Tarık has written the libretti of composer Selman Ada’s operas Ali Baba & 40 (also staged in German at Wuppertal Oper), Forbidden Love, Another Planet and the oratorio Blue Dot. His Turkish translations include works by Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel, Savyon Liebrecht, Arthur Miller and Perry Anderson. He has recently initiated the Earth Civilization Project with several intellectuals from various parts of the planet.

President Erdoğan boasts about “democratization” but the reality contradicts his arguments.

Dictator Evren

Having been sentenced to life imprisonment Kenan Evren, the leader of the US-backed military coup d’Etat in Turkey in 1980, died in hospital at 98. Under his brutal rule, the parliament and all political parties were abolished. More than 700,000 people were arrested, at least one fifth were tortured, and 50 youngsters were executed.

Evren imposed a despotic constitution in 1982. The “referendum” was also a scandal: 92 percent of the votes were in favor, but no discussion was allowed and the envelopes were so thin that the color of the vote was visible. Only those who accepted the consequence of being arrested voted no.

Evren imposed his own laws and mentality. After being elected President, he sometimes toured and addressed crowds with the Quran in his hand. It was clearly against secularism. Under his rule, the Left was oppressed and religion was heavily introduced everywhere.

“Dictating president” Erdoğan

Today’s dictating president Erdoğan also tours with the Quran in his hand –but this time it is in Kurdish. He behaves as if he were still Prime Minister and the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Every time he opens his mouth it is either hate speech or misinformation; in both cases: manipulation. His goal is to to have more than 400 members of parliament (MP)s from “his” party, the AKP, so that he can become the kind of president he wants. That is why he is trying to prevent the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) from obtaining more than 10 percent of the votes, which would give them 60 MPs.

Though some members and supporters of the HDP are left wing, it is basically the party of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Öcalan, who has been in prison for fifteen years. Some Westerners have a romantic view of the PKK.

The parliamentary election on June 7 will be vital: If Erdoğan’s AKP cannot form a government alone, the party may split.

In Turkey, “12 September” signifies the beginning of the military dictatorship that followed the 1980 coup d’eta. At present, a different type of dictatorship is on stage.

The past 35 years in Turkey have witnessed two dictators. Kenan Evren is dead. No political party was represented at his funeral. Hardly anybody attended apart from his family. I hope Erdoğan will live long enough to see his own fall. The fact that few spectators showed up in Izmir and Van is already a clear sign.

In an article, Dr Örsan Öymen wrote “Erdoğan will be tried,” and now he is in court for it. Writer Emrah Serbes is also in court.

The list of the democratic intellectuals taken to court is long. So is the list of the second dictator’s crimes, including alleged aid to ISIS.

About the Author

Poet, playwright, actor, and director Tarık Günersel worked at Istanbul City Theater as a dramaturg. His works include Breaths of Infinity (a mosaic of poems) and My 300th Birthday Speech (short stories). His Becoming consists of his aphorisms and various ideas from world wisdom. His plays include Billennium, Nero and Agrippina, Sociology of Shit, Threat and Virtually Yours. He has written four libretti for the composer Selman Ada: Ali Baba & 40, Blue Dot, Forbidden Love, and Another Planet. His translations into Turkish include works by Arthur Miller, Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel and Savyon Liebrecht. His presentation of World Poetry Day to PEN International in 1997 led to its adoption by UNESCO. As the former president of PEN Turkey Center he was elected to PEN International Board in Tokyo from 2010 to 2012. In 2013 he initiated the Earth Civilization Project with the collaboration of several intellectuals from around the planet.

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Fearless, Ink.