Important messages, difficult times
The patience of Turks is running thin. Calls for regional curfews if not emergency rule are increasing. The government has been turning a blind eye and deaf ear to attacks on its critics, sufficing with lip service and late condemnations. The buildings of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Ankara and in many other cities have come under attack; police proved reluctant to promptly fend off protestors. In several cities, HDP buildings were torched and seriously damaged by fire.
The Istanbul headquarters of Turkey’s leading daily Hürriyet newspaper was attacked twice in two days. The Ankara printing works of the Doğan Media Group was also attacked. A group of demonstrators threw plastic bottles at the headquarters of the daily Sabah newspaper in Istanbul. Only hours after the second attack on the Hürriyet building and a strong outburst from both the paper and journalist associations reminding the government of its constitutional responsibility to protect the media, the prime minister issued an order to Istanbul’s governor and police to take measures and the government officially condemned the attacks. Yet, the president and some leading cabinet members continued using hostile language against critics in the media and HDP executives.
It is odd for a journalist to call for violence, even on his personal social media account. It’s even rather insane if that journalist has been working with a state-owned news agency. Yet it was proved in this advanced state of supremacy of arbitrary law that one can get away with such hate speech if he just says, “The views expressed are not binding to my company, they represent my personal views.” What were those views? The journalist was saying if he was given the chance he would stage a wholesale massacre of people he believed were involved in terrorism.
Taking justice hostage and believing individuals might have the right to take justice into their own hands must be a rather schizophrenic hallucination. But if such ill mentality gets away with its wild fantasies, it might become not at all a surprise if a newspaper headquarters is attacked twice in two days, or in several cities mobs attack buildings of a political party or, let’s say in Kırşehir in the Central Anatolian region, many shops, including a bookstore, were torched down.
While the government and the tall, bold, bald and ever angry man still hope increased nationalism – because of a surge in terrorism – will help the Justice and Development Party (AKP) garner a sufficient increase in its vote share in the Nov. 1 repeat election to make a comeback to power alone, tensions are increasing in the country. Polls indicate that while the popularity of the AKP is apparently increasing because of consolidated nationalist feelings, it is losing because of the economy going astray.
Things, however, might further deteriorate in the coming period. The prosecutor in southeastern Diyarbakır announced it had begun to investigate a speech made by HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş on grounds he incited people to violence and produced propaganda for the separatist gang. Well, Demirtaş, reacting to attacks on his party’s buildings, declared that people whose houses were attacked might respond in kind in self-defense and that would be legitimate. Was it a wise call? Unfortunately not. At this critical point Demirtaş must have tried to become the leader of a “Turkey party” rather than talking in a micro-nationalist framework.
Another important statement came from Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, who for the first time in many years allowed the “gray wolves” or the “ideology clubs” of his party take to the streets to protest the surge in terrorism. “If treacherous and hostile [separatist terrorist] attacks are not quelled and [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan persists in his conspiracies and plots, a historic grand palace march, as was seen in many other countries, might become unavoidable,” Bahçeli said.
If one leader is talking of the “legitimate right of self-defense” and another leader is talking of a “historic grand palace march,” there are reasons far more serious than what we already have to be panicked for the future of this country. In these times the need for statesmen is felt far stronger than ever.