Disrespect to Denktaş
The founding president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Rauf R. Denktaş, is often referred to as the “last great Turkish leader” in patriotic, nationalist and conservative-Kemalist circles. Was he? In our conversations addressing such issues, a humble Denktaş often and in all sincerity said, “May the Turkish nation never face such difficulties that will make it search for a great leader. The last Turkish great leader was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.”
Denktaş was a comrade of late Dr. Fazıl Küçük in a glorious struggle that carried the Turkish Cypriot people from the status of a small Muslim minority of a British colony to a community status, one of the two founding peoples of the Cyprus Republic in 1960. Denktaş and Dr. Küçük were the leaders that rejected outrightly the Greek Cypriot demand to relegate the Turkish Cypriot people into a minority status in a Greek-run Cyprus. Despite a massive genocidal campaign by the Greek Cypriots in which they propagated their demand, saying, “It’s all mine; we will only give you minority rights; give up partnership rights,” a heroic resistance was forged in 1963. The Greek Cypriots forced out the Turks from 103 settlements, murdered hundreds and used every possible torturous heinous method on the Turkish Cypriots. But an under-armed resistance forged by Küçük and Denktaş staged a miraculous success. Naturally, thanks to limited Turkish support. Along with Dr. Burhan Nalbantoglu and Kemal Tanrısevdi, Denktaş or “Toros,” his code name, was one of the three founders of the Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT). For 11 years, from the start of the Greek Cypriot attacks in 1963 to the 1974 Turkish intervention, Denktaş was the leader of the glorious resistance of the Turkish Cypriot people.
Complaints are growing that not only Denktaş but also Dr. Küçük, who played a historical role in the Turkish Cypriot struggle, were disrespected in a TV series about the Turkish Cypriot struggle, commissioned by the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation to a private company for the sake of rating. Denktaş’ daughter Ender Denktaş said she was considering suing the production company and TRT for hurting her father’s memory. She also launched a campaign on social media to force TRT to take the show off the air.
She is inherently angry that Denktaş and Dr. Küçük were brought to the screen as characters of secondary importance while a Turkish advisor sent from Ankara was presented as the organizer of the Turkish Cypriot resistance as if he had extraordinary powers while the Turkish Cypriot freedom fighters were not doing anything important. The scene in which a Greek terrorist puts a pistol to Denktaş’ head particularly has caused a serious outrage.
“Denktaş does not need to be praised or despised according to wishes of anyone. Those who do not know the reality and those who do not intend to research historical developments should keep their hands off our history and historical personalities. They should put their ignorant hands away from our history because they are polluting it. What we are being faced with is not an insult to my father, but they are downgrading the noble struggle of my people, ruing the reputation of all of my people,” Ender Denktaş said.
In fact, considering that Denktaş’ mausoleum has not been completed for the past nine years, it seems as if someone on and off the island is seriously disrespecting the Turkish Cypriot leader.
Should this show be taken off the air? Shows don’t have to stick to reality. However, as in the historical period films and TV serials that we have been watching for various purposes recently, the falsification of history for the sake of rating has become a common fashion. Yet, in the case of the Cyprus serial, apparently, the greedy producers preferred a total rewrite of history rather than using it as a guide. Contrary to other historical TV shows on Ottoman sultans, however, there are quite many TMT fighters still alive to explain what indeed happened during those years. Plus, there are too many experts available who, if needed, might have been consulted. If there was a desire to reflect a better version of what indeed happened during those years, of course, the producers would have utilized all those possibilities.
It is difficult indeed to say to Ender Denktaş that she was wrong when she complained that she felt there was an organized effort to harm the reputation of her late father.