Making a terrorist out of the activist

Making a terrorist out of the activist

Imagine a typical Turkish family. Gathered around the table, all the family, eating. While the narrator is saying, “While you are living on the innocent side of life in peace (whatever innocent is),” all of a sudden the scene changes. The camera focuses on a meeting at an illegal organization’s cell house; the narrator continues with an even more dramatic voice: “The terrorist organizations are waiting in ambush…” Da da da daaaaa!

The cruel ambush is organized against the young girl in the family. In the next scene, we see the “terrorist” with a rose in his hand, trying to steal the heart of the young girl. Then, our girl is chanting slogans in a demonstration on the street with colorful posters.

The narrator is warning us: “They use the mask of ‘standing up for your rights’ in small demonstrations, and then they quietly steal your child from you…” Toward the end of the film, the family is devastated, the girl whose “mind was stolen” has become a suicide bomber! The public campaign prepared by the General Directorate of Security is being aired on all television channels…

Yes, we know that young people are facing various risks, but it is extremely wrong and dangerous, in the name of warning the people, to resort to generalizations and clichés worse than what we used to hear in bad lines from old Turkish movies.

Automatically ‘terrorist’

Let me draw your attention to this; according to the public announcement, “outside” is full of horrible dangers. The first secret message to the families is “do not let your daughter befriend boys.” The second and the more overt message is that any young person engaged in standing up for any right is automatically transformed into a “terrorist” or even a “suicide bomber.”

According to this mentality, to join an abortion demonstration or to protest against the demolition of Emek Movie Theater, or stage a demonstration against a dam or a nuclear power plant, or claiming your rights at the university is all the same: “They are all terrorists, terrorists!”

In short, the state is telling you, “Take care of your children so that they keep their mouths shut, so that they do not stand up for their rights, so that they do not wander the streets. They should stay at home; otherwise they would kill and be killed.”

This public announcement, prepared in the simplest way, with broad generalizations, with a high dose of deviousness, not only insults people’s intelligence but also triggers paranoia. Terrify the society so that they do not raise their voices. So that they succumb to whatever is done to them. If they accidentally join an activity, they would be regarded as “terrorists.”

We have experienced plenty of examples of how young people, even though they have had no connection with violence, can be jailed in this country.

Are PKK members activists?

When those who are claiming their rights are regarded as the “enemy,” at times when standing up for your right is considered equal to violence, there are also other ongoing peculiarities.

Last week, a Turkey report was debated at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly and accepted. In the report, upon Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü’s proposal, members of PKK were referred to as “activists” instead of “terrorists.”

Head of the delegation Nursuna Memecan opposed this, saying, “That we are in a negotiation process does not change the fact that PKK is a terrorist organization.”

The aspect I oppose in Ertuğrul Kürkçü’s “activist” proposal is this: on no account can a person who has used arms, who has exerted violence, be called an “activist.”

If they are, then tomorrow, or the next day, a person reciting poetry or demonstrating to protect the environment will be regarded the same as those who use arms and violence. Then the scenario depicted in the campaign prepared by the Security Department will become a reality. Every activist will be regarded as a terrorist!

Mehveş Evin is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece appeared on April 29. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.