Why does no official cry over the Turkish woman in a Russian prison?
You might recall how Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan burst into tears in a live tv broadcast listening to a senior Muslim Brotherhood politician’s letter to his daughter, who was killed by the Egyptian security forces last summer.
Before that you might also remember how Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu cried during a visit to Gaza last year upon meeting a Palestinian father whose son was killed by an Israeli airstrike.
There is no problem with politicians showing a genuine humane reaction. In fact Turkish politicians can even be saluted as their interest in human suffering is not just limited to Turkey. Yet one expects the same kind of sensitivity towards Turks.
Elif Yavuz was a Turkish origin Dutch citizen. She was among the 61 civilians murdered by Islamic extremists during a bloody siege of a Kenyan mall last September. A Harvard graduate and malaria specialist, she was eight months pregnant when she was slain alongside the father of her baby. It was former President Bill Clinton who fought back tears as he paid tribute to 33-year-old Elif Yavuz, a former staffer of his foundation.
Unfortunately, one does not recall vividly a strong and emotional reaction from Turkish officials. When you google it, one sees that Foreign Minister Davutoğlu posted a tweet condemning the terrorist act and expressing sadness for Elif Yavuz and others who lost their lives. He also talked about his intention to visit Yavuz’s family. President Abdullah Gül as well expressed his condolences via twitter.
Otherwise it looks like google has not registered any reaction from the prime minister or other members of the cabinet. This is rather disturbing. Of course one recalls Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s 2009 statement that Muslims don’t commit genocide while he was ardently defending Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Yet one does not want to associate this “relative” muteness from the cabinet about Elif Yavuz to the fact that her murderers were Muslim.
On a separate case, Gizem Akhan, a Turkish university student from Istanbul, is among 30 people behind bars in Russia for more than 50 days now following a peaceful protest against oil drilling in the Arctic.
On Sept. 18 the Greenpeace ship stopped near the drilling platform Prirazlomnaya, the first rig to drill for oil off Russia’s Arctic coast, and launched four inflatable boats. In a typical Greenpeace act, they wanted to hang a banner on the platform. There were no weapons aboard the ship. But armed Russian security forces abseiled down from helicopters and took them all prisoner. Charged with hooliganism and facing up to seven years in prison if convicted, all 30 crew members, volunteers who come from Britain, France, Canada, Russia, Brazil, New Zealand and 11 other countries, had been denied bail and held in pre-trial detention in Murmansk, 1,030 kilometers north of St. Petersburg. Yesterday they were moved to St. Petersburg.
We have learned from the news that both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron have brought the issue to the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin. So far I have not heard much of an outcry from Turkish officials. Greenpeace Turkey is thankful and grateful to Tanju Bilgiç, Turkish Council General in St Petersburg who despite the distance of Murmansk frequently visited Gizem Akhan. Meanwhile, a letter sent to the Russian Embassy asking for her and the other Greenpeace activists to be released was only signed by 42 Republican People’s Party (CHP) MPs and two Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) MPs.
Of the 30 crew members, eight were women. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is known to have an allergy to non-married men and women staying under one roof. Could we attribute the muteness of cabinet members to this allergy?