A narcissist curse…
It was as if there was an undeclared curfew. Early in the morning [May 31], Istanbul police closed down all major roads leading to Gezi Park, the sparking point of the 2013 nationwide anti-government protests. Why? The obsessive majoritarian government of the elected neo-sultan did not want people gather and remember the nine young sons of this country who fell victim to brutal governance.
Two years later, the government, nowadays waging a survival battle ahead of the June 7 parliamentary polls, still suffers from an acute understanding problem, still thinking the Gezi protests were an international plot to overthrow it. It was, of course, difficult to concede that the Gezi incidents were neither simply an environmentalist protest nor just an anti-Justice and Development Party protest, exploited by the “external enemies” of Turkey, “envious” of the great advances achieved under the neo-sultan’s governance, but just a proud “No” to the obsessive, patronizing leadership style and allegiance culture that veiled the country. A simple “Guys, it was a mistake to think of cutting down trees of Gezi Park and build a plaza and replica of ancient Ottoman barracks in its place… The municipality will take into consideration the neighborhood’s opinion in planning further city developments” statement would have ended the protests and nine young lives would have been saved.
However, protestors opposing the excessive use of force, police brutality, administration arrogance, and patronizing leadership style received exactly and even more than what they opposed. A ruthless dictatorial mentality unleashed a viperous campaign to demonize all opposition. What the Gezi uprising protested unfortunately used horrendous and excessive force to stop Gezi and similar protests in 79 other provinces throughout the country, murdering nine young sons of this nation and sending about 5,500 people behind bars (189 were formally arrested and prosecuted, others released after brief detention). Apart from the nine people killed brutally either by police or collaborators “assisting” the security forces, 31 people lost at least one eye to plastic bullets and gas canisters fired by police. Over the past two years, investigations against the police’s excessive use of force, police murders have progressed with turtle speed, while Gezi protestors are speedily prosecuted. If Gezi had taken place now, the situation would be far worse as this country now has a new Domestic Security Law which deserves a wholehearted salute from all the world’s former tyrants.
Over the past 13 years, the rule of the current political team has condemned this country to an acute campaign of polarization. People were discriminated, alienated and divided into camps. Those who dared to criticize have become the focus of lynching campaigns, irrespective whether they are doctors opposing the so-called health reform or just political opponents or worse, journalists.
Obviously, it is not possible to establish a uniform society of conservatives, practicing Muslims, deists or atheists. Totalitarian and obsessive dictatorial administrations might wish to have absolute worshippers for the sacrosanct “almighty ruler” of the regime. “To the last drop in our veins, our blood is for you,” women chanted while deifying Saddam Hussein in yesterday’s Iraq. The same women and men also celebrated the hanging of Saddam. If respect and loyalty is product of fear and police-state undertakings, sincerity might become a fiction, if not a fairy tale.
What did the neo-sultan say during the time of Gezi? He said it was hard even for him to keep “the other 50 percent” of the nation off the streets. Was it wise to say that? Perhaps not, but it was just what the tall man needed to consolidate polarization and thus, his political base that would enable him to stay longer in governance.
Discrimination, alienation, polarization, consolidation of electoral base (even at the expense of “some lives”), extravagant use of state funds (legally and illegally) to help promote electoral prospects of allies, helping fuel fire in the neighborhood and exploiting the suffering of millions of “refugees” to create a sense of insecurity, thus, a need for “continued stability at any cost…” Do all these appear to be part of a synopsis of a bigger scenario, currently happening in the country?
What a great film, is it not? Turkey must find a way of getting rid of this narcissistic curse…