Yes dude, I demand freedom and real democracy
The head of one of Turkey’s biggest football clubs is out there, calling out, “I am Ataturkist and secular...” Outstanding people of Turkey are coming out individually to say, “I am Ataturkist and secular...” People, more and more, have “Kemal Atatürk” written on their cars. Young people have Atatürk’s signature as a tattoo on their arms.
Whereas; not long ago; it was only six months ago that the symbols of this country were downtrodden… The adjective deemed suitable to self-sacrificing people who fought the War of Liberation and who founded the republic were “two drunks…”
The Liberation War, where thousands lost their lives, was almost turned into an uprising of looters… A difficult past, an honorable history was downsized to a few years; the history of a nation was made to start in 2002. Supposedly, a wrong “official history” was being re-written, replaced by the official history of their small worlds. History was being reset; the heroic children of the nation were being dismissed from that history.
People who believed in secularism, who were devoted to the republic, to democracy were almost made outcasts; a new privileged “the real, own children” generation was created.
The state, the previously elected governments and its army, which fought terror because the people delegated it to do so, were minimized to “a herd of coup plotters.” The most systematic, reckless and darkest propaganda my history has ever seen drove over the children of this nation like a cylinder.
People who voted for them were the real children; those who did not were dysfunctional children. The former were scolded every day, they were denigrated; they became fifth class people in their own country. Their hopes were smashed.
Now, these people started talking. The line “enough of this” has been passed… Now, even though we have a lot to lose, we have come to a point where we are not afraid of losing… People are proudly crying out loud, “I am Ataturkist, I am secular.”
They have seen the misery of holding people in jails and piling banknotes in shoe boxes. Now, for this reason, they have proudly started crying out loud, “I am Ataturkist, I am secular.”
They believe the 80 year old republican history of this country will again take its esteemed place and these 12 years will be recorded in history as a black hole…
A nation is reawakening… And I am crying: You may have passion for rhetoric; I have my faith in my lifestyle, I have belief in my republic and the principles of Atatürk and confidence in myself.
You may have warriors donned in shrouds; I have the ideal of peace, the demand of a real democracy and an ambition for a free and dignified life.
I know if a 16-year-old kid is risking his life for his personal dignity at Gezi Park, I, at least, have a voice to raise; a heart that will no longer fear and the nerve to say, “That is enough.”
Here, with that same dare, I am crying; Yes dude, I am Ataturkist. I am secular. I am committed to my lifestyle and freedom. I do not have shroud or anything like that on me. Because I am still alive… And I want to live freely…
Ertuğrul Özkök is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this abridged piece was published on Jan 29. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.