One sentence, my prime minister

One sentence, my prime minister

Professor Betül Tanbay from Bosphorus University Department of Mathematics was among the 11 people who met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on June 12 in Ankara. Professor Tanbay addressed the prime minister in the meeting, stating that everybody who was present at the meeting was given a load much bigger than anyone can possibly shoulder. She wanted the prime minister to say one sentence only:

“The figures do not have faces. Figures do not have branches either. Have you seen the faces of the young people sleeping at the park? Have you seen the branches of the trees that are greening? I am not a politician; I am not a political scientist. I am a mathematician.

As I understand, whoever is in the government, they have a bad relationship with figures. They have a bad relationship with people. They have a bad relationship with trees. People become a figure; likewise, trees become a figure.

Of course it is your right to use numbers, and remind people that you have been elected by a majority. But, isn’t it also the right of all of us to expect from the government to have our demands assembled, not separated, right?

Behind the 600 trees at Gezi Park, there is a forest of 75 million; the beauty of this forest comes from its diversity. Who would want a forest where you select the lime tree from the plane tree, or the oak from the plane tree?

Gezi Park has stopped being a public domain of 38,000 square meters; it has become a unifying point. This point can be a place of balance or it can just as well be a breaking point. Since figures are at your side at the ballot box, it is in your responsibility and your power to make it a balancing point. What is needed in a power relationship is not make the already powerful more powerful but it is to listen to and be able to hear the one whose voice is weak.

I have spent my life with young people. While I was teaching them mathematics, I tried to learn life from them. Today, hearing the youth at the park who demands freedom is not taking a step back but, on the contrary, it is taking a step forward, to rewrite history.

It is possible for you to surprise both your opponents and your aides. What is required is commonsense and courage; you should have both. I wish you do not choose the simple and the one bound to fail but the difficult option that will prove to be incredible.

Because Gezi Park has gone way beyond its own issue, maybe only one sentence may also go beyond what is said. With one sentence, you can express that you will act according to universal democratic measures, that you are also the prime minister of those who do not think like you, that you believe it is possible to cohabitate with the life style you have chosen together with different life styles, and moreover, that the peace process you have started will not be undermined.

‘We will all together make Gezi Park become one of the most beautiful parks in the world without destroying even one tree.’”