Another black day in Turkey’s dark journey

Another black day in Turkey’s dark journey

Oct. 10 is already registered as another black day in Turkish history, after two bomb blasts killed almost 100 men and women gathered to demonstrate in the name of peace and democracy. 

The attacks came just a day before the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) declared that it would announce a ceasefire. It was also one day after a notorious Mafioso man with extreme nationalistic views held a public rally in Rize, a Black Sea city famous for its conservative and nationalist public mood. Imagine, a man who has a solid criminal record feels free to hold a public event to condemn “terrorism” (of Kurds) and does not shy away from referring to “the coming bloodbath.” This does not mean there is a link between the Rize rally and the attacks in Ankara, but it is a good example reflecting the dark political mood in Turkey on the eve of the snap election in November.

As long as it is directed against the PKK, the Kurdish party, or government dissenters, no hate speech is considered too extreme or unlawful - even if it poses a danger to social peace. The president and his party feel free to accuse all kinds of opposition circles and people as “traitors” who are the “domestic collaborators” of all kinds of plots and conspiracies against Turkey. It is the president and his party who pioneer refusing to recognize the democratic legitimacy of the Kurdish party and its supporters, simply labelling them “terrorists.”

In return, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) politicians have directly accused “the state” for the terror attacks of Black Saturday. It is not actually clear what they mean by “the State,” but it should be considered a reaction to the exclusion of their party from the legitimate sphere of politics. 

It is not only the Kurdish issue that is a matter of polarization of politics and society in Turkey. The country is now utterly polarized when it comes to being “pro” or “anti” the president and his governing party. So much so that even such a tragedy quickly turns into a point of bitter controversy between different social and political circles. Whatever happens, pro-government circles accuse dissent in general, whether it is from Kurds, secularists or the liberal democratic intelligentsia. Even if Kurdish party sympathizers are targeted and killed, they see “Kurdish terrorism” as the main suspect. Likewise, dissenters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) are certain that it is the AKP and/or the AKP controlled state that is behind all troubles.

Last but not least comes the argument about “dark forces.” There is a strong political tradition of attributing all negative events to the evil deeds of “dark forces,” but if we thought it was a thing of the past, unfortunately we can see it has made a strong comeback in recent years thanks to AKP politicians and supporters. “Dark forces” have always meant Turkey’s external enemies and their domestic pawns, as in the case of all authoritarian states. 

Now, once again - and more forcefully than ever - this xenophobic and conspiratorial mindset is ruling Turkey.

Even after such a tragedy, once again the main suspects are foreign enemies and their domestic pawns who happen to be in the opposition circles. In fact, the biggest tragedy is that such a mindset is ruling Turkey, leading the country on a dark journey toward more authoritarianism, chaos, political ambivalence, and who knows what else.