A Demand for Justice Without Supply!

by    /  August 31, 2017  / No comments

Arrested Human Rights activists: İdil Eser, Özlem Dalkıran, Ali Gharavi, Peten Steudtner, Günal Kurşun, Veli Acu.

Last year’s abortive coup attempt on July 15th has been misused by the Erdoğan-led AK Party government; in response, the massive critique in action, the 23-day “Justice March” led by the CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has moved millions of citizens. More than 1.5 million citizens attended the meeting in Istanbul. The single word chosen to be upheld was “Adalet”, or, “Justice” in Turkish. A good choice indeed.

Accused of connection to an armed terrorist organization, ten human rights activists were detained in Istanbul on July 5th, and six of them were arrested. In an open letter to the AK Party government, the leaders of five international organizations called the arrests, “a hammer blow to Turkey’s besieged civil society and an ominous indicator of the direction Turkey is heading in.” They called on world leaders to “make a strong, determined and compelling case for human rights, dignity and justice.” The letter is signed by Salil Shetty, secretary-general of Amnesty International; Ricken Patel, president of Avaaz; Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch; Sharan Burrow, general secretary of International Trade Union Confederation; and Robin Hodess, internal managing director of Transparency International.

Accused of supporting FETÖ (the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization), arguably the main if not the only organization behind the coup attempt, teachers Ms Nuriye Gülmen and Mr Semih Özakça were sacked more than four months ago.

Nuriye Gelmen, on hunger strike. Image via the author

A multi-party commission has been established to inquire into the claims regarding the unfair deeds by the authorities since the declaration of the state of emergency on July 20, 2016. Will the two academics, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who have been on hunger strike for more than four months, survive? Will their silent cries be heard by Erdoğan’s government?

The destructively anti-secularist and anti-democratic agenda of the successive AKP governments is aggressively followed: the Minister of Education said in mid July that the topic of the theory of evolution was postponed to the university level, “because the high school students lack the necessary philosophical background.” But who got rid of the philosophy lesson? The previous AK party government!

Semih-Özakça, on hunger strike in Turkey. Image via the author.

PEN International and International Press Institute (IPI) have also announced their critiques, siding with the imprisoned journalists and other democrats in Turkey.

Meanwhile, Wikipedia is still blocked. A recent article published by Los Angeles Times focuses on the lack of freedom of expression in Turkey, focusing on the Turkish newspaper, the Daily Cumhuriyet.

As for the coup attempt, there are many questions so far unanswered. If the National Security Service (MIT) learned about the coup at 2:30 pm, why did it take them hours to inform the government? Meanwhile, the Erdoğan-led AK Party government has refused to set up a separate commission that will inquire into the politicians involved in the coup attempt.

On the one-year anniversary of the coup attempt, several parties and organizations made public statements. An excerpt from the one by PEN Turkey Center states:

“The people of Turkey did show, on July 15th last year, that coups were not fate. Against those who attempted a coup d’etat, they proved that they could defend the homeland, the democratic system, the parliamentary regime. That resistance was the greatest guarantee against further coup attempts. But there is one way to strengthen the guarantee: Democracy; by not misusing the coup attempt as an excuse for more oppression and violence, by never giving up justice, rights and law; by respecting the separation of powers… As PEN Turkey, we say no to every coup attempt no matter how or by whom. We are against all sorts of coup, military or civilian, and we are in favour of opening the paths towards living together.”

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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