Silence is deadly
Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça have been on hunger strike for 90 days for their jobs. The former is an academic and the latter is a teacher. Despite all the statements from the interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, they are not terrorists, and not members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). They are putting their lives on the line to protect the jobs and rights of others.
The Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) heavyweights and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s close circle is engulfed in their own dilemma. They have to produce better economic results fast. They have to prove that business is as usual. Turkey will send troops to Qatar and will get hot cash in return very quickly.
All the unpaid checks, unfinished construction projects, and hey, even the Atatürk Cultural Center that has been kept as a ruin since the Gezi Park protests can be finished. Ignore all the cries in small cities and neighborhoods about pious Muslims losing their jobs; ignore all the calls about investigating the political arm of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ). As long as the money is rolling in, nobody will care about anything else.
Sadly, they have read the psychology of this society well. Until the minute that the snake touches you, you can tolerate all the unfairness, all the brutality and all the viciousness out there. As long as you get your monthly paycheck, you have no reason to worry about the tragedies next door. All the small children getting kidnapped and little animals brutally killed are just newspaper stories for you. “Not in my backyard,” you could say. Well, it is too close for comfort now.
For more than a decade, we have been facing organized malice injected into society like a daily dose of vitamins. TV morning shows are full of indecency that you cannot even talk to your children about. Pop stars who pretend to be good Muslims are openly cheating on their wives and still getting away with it.
This Ramadan could have been the month of reconciliation and peace. It could have been the Ramadan when we broke fast in Diyarbakir’s Sur, Gezi Park and Beştepe all together. It could have been the summer of our togetherness. But no, things have to get worse before they get better. And so it is happening. Immorality, indecency, lawlessness, favoritism, vulgarity, brutality are everywhere and they are becoming the norm. To keep your body and mind away from all this sewage, all you can do is to lie to die.
Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça’s silent sit-in protests could have been resolved weeks ago when they were still healthy. But the prime minister asked if they were in jail, and protesting against something else. He was not even aware of the silent protest in the heart of Ankara.
His army of advisers that tweet and text a zillion times a day did not even deign to inform him about it. But hey, did he do anything when he learned? Nope.
He should have asked Şevket Kazan, the former justice minister who faced hunger strikes twice, leaving hundreds in coffins in 1996 and 2000. You do not humiliate people on their causes and on their food. Otherwise their silence can be deadly.