Crime is OK, Evidence is Not!
Elections, arms dealing, and unexpected outcomes: Tarık Günersel rounds up a tumultuous month’s worth of news from Turkey.
Kill the Messenger
“Erdoğan’s team” sending arms to ISIS
- Life is words in action, literature is action in words.
- 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?
- Literature is vital and translators are messengers of world peace.
- 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.
- Tarık Günersel worked as a dramaturg at Istanbul Metropolitan Theater. He has acted on stage and screen and directed some of his plays.
- 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.
- 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.
The daily newspaper Cumhuriyet (Republic) has recently published photos of MIT trucks carrying weapons to Syria, leading to Erdoğan’s rage. He has threatened its editor in chief, Can Dündar, and demanded two life sentences, plus 42 years. The Turkish Journalists Association has praised Cumhuriyet and Dündar for their courage on various issues.
The publication of those photos is now prohibited in Turkey. Sending arms illegally is a crime, isn’t it? Shouldn’t evidence be a good cause for gratitude? Not under Erdoğan’s rule, the foundations of which are trembling.
What a relief…
… it is not to see President Erdoğan on TV! His aggressive hate speeches came to a halt after his defeat in the parliamentary elections on June 7, 2015. His oppressive, religious sectarian Justice and Development Party (AKP) government lost its majority.
I think this is not the end of the 13-year-period of the ruling AKP, but of the 35-year-period that began with the military coup d’etat in 1980.
The leftist movements and the Kurdish reality were harshly suppressed, partly contributing to the development of Abdullah Öcalan’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a guerrilla organization that freely made use of terror against civilians, including Kurdish intellectuals with different ideas. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a coalition of socialists and some of the Kurdish nationalists, is related to the PKK.
Diyarbakır-based Kurdish nationalist Ibrahim Güçlü has a different view. A Kurdish nationalist who has been critical of the PKK for “betraying” the ideal of an independent Kurdistan, he said that “the Kemalist Turkish State” has managed to divert the energy of the HDP to becoming a party of Turkey.
The AKP’s criminal record makes it hard for opposition parties to form a coalition. The three opposition parties in Parliament now are the “social-democratic” Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP), which holds 25 percent of Parliament with 132 members (MP); the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which holds 17 percent with 80 MPs; and the HDP, with some left-wing support giving it 13 percent with 80 MPs.
The numbers might change in a few days. The HDP might have 83 MPs and the AKP might have 255.
“HDP should refrain from a coalition unless the constitution changes. Otherwise, it will become a party of the status-quo,” he said.
Fall of Erdoğan?
Some of the columnists and judges who sided with Erdoğan’s ruling party have changed direction. Has Erdoğan given up his super-presidency goal? Does he want to resign as President and become the official leader of the AKP again, leading to an early election?
A new bestseller reveals some of the in-party conflicts. 12 Years with Abdullah Gül, a book by Ahmet Sever, the chief advisor to former President Abdullah Gül, seems to be an attempt to pave the way for Gül’s return to politics as the leader of AKP. Hürriyet’s columnist Ahmet Hakan has reacted to Gül’s potential return, emphasizing his uncritical support to of Erdoğan’s rule.
The “moderate Islam” strategy!
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the US wanted to build a “green (Islamic) belt” around the Soviet Union. The US favored Islamization in secular countries like Turkey. In his in/famous 1990s book The Clash of Civilizations, Huntington wrote that Turkey should get rid of Atatürk’s secularist legacy and accept an Islamic regime, forget about the EU and become part of the Middle East. The idea behind it was that a moderate Islamic state would collaborate with the US for the sake of oil and other geopolitical gains.
Newly elected President Obama refrained from using the term “moderate Islam,” which indicated to secularists in Turkey – like me – that the new US government would be more considerate. The dominant US strategists did great harm to secularism in Turkey by choosing and supporting Erdoğan.
If you push for “moderate Islam” in a relatively secular country like Turkey, what you get will be radical Islam. If there was a relatively acceptable kind of “moderate Islam” in Turkey it was mainly thanks to Atatürk, who was keen on secularism. The “de-Atatürkization” of Turkey has led to a despotic regime under Erdogan. The June parliamentary election was possibly the last chance to stop him. But the game is not over yet. A long struggle is needed.
As a young social scientist from Yemen said on her way to Holland: “Secularism is important. But most people in Yemen need to have a better idea about it.”
It would be great if a movie like Kill the Messenger could be made about Erdoğan’s government sending arms to ISIS, but we’ll have to see if the political conditions will allow such an attempt in the near future.