Under the shadow of ‘terror talk’

Under the shadow of ‘terror talk’

After Public Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz, who was investigating the controversial death of a young Gezi protest victim at the hands of the police, was killed by two members of an illegal and dubious leftist organization called the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), the whole thing turned against the media and the opposition in Turkey. The president, the government and their supporters almost launched a campaign against everyone the government considers an “enemy.” 

The first victim was the supposedly anti-government media. The accusation was that they supported terrorists and terrorism by printing photos of the terrorists who took Kiraz. The campaign then it turned to other media outlets and opposition parties, who allegedly declined to call the terrorists, “terrorists,” using the term “militants” instead. The fact that in most cases the media and the opposition used both terms did not matter. Pro-government newspapers even targeted certain journalists personally and printed their pictures, along with an extensive use of hate speech. The pro-government social media further heated up the atmosphere by directly targeting names, media groups, opposition parties, and Alevis.

After that the terrorist act and the terror organization started being related by the government to the Gezi protests of 2013, and Alevis were referred to as the pawns of “dark forces” against the government. In the mind of the government and its supporters, Kiraz’s killings was just the latest instance of a dirty plot against the ruling party after the Gezi protests and then the so-called “Gülenist coup.” In this view, Gülenists, social democrats, Kurds, leftists of all kinds, “anti-government media,” and Alevis are all parts of this plot.

Finally, there came the international actors. In the view of the government’s supporters, the plot also has international dimensions. Some said it was part of Iran’s game in the region to provoke Shiites and Alevis, from Syria to Yemen. They claimed that the DHKP-C is under the control of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and Iranians have taken control of the regime, linking all three together. Others claimed that a British agent was involved in the group, while some recalled that EU countries protect the DHKP-C, such as in the case of another assassin who killed a Turkish businessman before escaping to Belgium a few decades ago. Others suggest that even the U.S. still seems reluctant to fight against terrorist groups active in Turkey.

It sounds like a madhouse, but it is only the latest advanced form of political suppression in this country. A campaign of hate speech directed against all forms and circles of the opposition is being conducted. No matter how irrational it is to accuse so many people and their politics of being supporters of the aforementioned illegal organization and of being part of a grand plot, it works. It works because even the discussion of terror has the power of terrorizing society, especially if it is the talk of the politically powerful.

This is how life in Turkey has been recently.