There are still hours until the landing of the plane carrying Turkey’s absolute ruler Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who after nine days of continued protest bombardment throughout the country turned into a beverage gone flat. Would he make one of those emotional, “all encompassing” balcony speeches to fool the protestors? He may, he may not. But, most probably because of his macho character he will remain adamant to the demands of the protestors.
How could he say yes? The protestors are demanding everything, including the moon and the stars. Protestors don’t want the construction of the grand projects the prime minister believes would become the monuments of his era in governance. With the reconstruction of the historic Topcu Kışlası (artillery barracks) in Gezi Park, the prime minister wants to build a huge shopping mall, lush residences and, hold on, a mosque in the heart of Taksim – a dream of conservative-Islamist politics ever since. Protests started because of this protests and protestors have rejected so far all proposals including one to decide the fate of the project through a local referendum.
Protestors demand that the government stop its plans to demolish the Atatürk
Cultural Center (AKM) at Taksim. The government appears to be determined to deceive people. No one believed that once the AKM was demolished the government would build a new and bigger AKM in the same place and the adjacent lot. There is obviously a confidence crisis that grew thinner and thinner over the years. The last example was the fate of the Emek cinema hall; under the pretext of renovation the historic building was demolished.
Construction of a third Bosporus Bridge might be a requirement of a gigantic city expanding fast. But, just because that Istanbul would expand more with the construction of the third bridge and remaining precious forests would as well be opened to urbanization, protestors are against it. Besides, crowds are enraged with the government naming the third bridge after Yavuz (ferocious) Sultan Selim I, the controversial sultan who allegedly ordered the murder of some 45,000 Alevites after he adopted the Sunni
sect as official religion of the empire and became the first Turkish caliph. Could Erdoğan concede the name of the bridge was wrong? Could he say the project is scrapped? No way. Similarly, protestors share environmentalists’ concerns that a planned third airport would pose an existential threat to wildlife as it was on the pathway of immigrating birds.
Protestors are demanding government scrap plans to build new hydroelectric projects which did not receive a clean report regarding their environmental implications. Worse, can Erdoğan accept to forget his crazy Canal Istanbul project? Which fool advised the premier that the Canal Istanbul Montreaux Convention restrictions on the Bosporus passages could be bypassed? That’s wrong.
Worse, can Erdoğan indeed accept the demand of protestors to sack the interior minister, Istanbul police chief and send to court those sadists in the police who applied horrendous excessive use of force against all kinds on peaceful demonstrators?
What could Erdoğan say? Perhaps he could say one thing if his macho character allows: To call for an early election this summer. Thus he may perhaps come back if he really still has that fifty percent with him but at least allows democracy to sort out a democracy problem rather than a non-democratic intervention which I hope will not be lived in this country ever again.