Peace requires will, not tougher laws

Peace requires will, not tougher laws

Turkey is in a rather difficult but equally interesting period. This country has always been a very dynamic and sui-generis one, but nowadays it is sailing through even stranger times. Key civil service positions were vacated by parliamentary candidacy hopefuls. The enforced life-term convict is dictating terms of peace on the government. The government is trying to take the entire country hostage with its security-obsession disguised bid to create a police state for the tenant of the pseudo-imperial palace.

Doesn’t everyone want peace? Sure. Doesn’t everyone well know that peace can come to this country through dialogue, compromise and a re-definition of the “rules of cohabitation?” If there are some unaware of this, they had better try to learn it fast. Turkey is likewise not in a 1925 situation, able to crush a rebellion with whatever muscle it has; the world of today is not the pre-Cold War world, turning a blind eye and shyly criticizing growing and indiscriminate autocratic and police state applications on rights, freedoms and democracy in this country.

That is, a “public order bill” of the sort İsmet İnönü had imposed on this country, or the “investigative commission” and the sort of arbitrary justice push of the Adnan Menderes era, have all become history. In this age such efforts, even if made into law by parliament, can be challenged at courts both at home and abroad. Insisting on turning the country into a police state so the self-styled neo-emperor could easily survive all sorts of criticisms and accusations cannot help. Yet, people do suffer in this country because of that obsessive governance mentality.

Can it be possible to negotiate with the Kurds or the Kurdish chieftain on the conditions of co-habitation of the Turkish and Kurdish peoples in peace and harmony, with Kurdish inalienable rights finally restored and the bonds of togetherness firmed (so important at a time when many countries in the neighborhood are facing social, cultural, ethnic and sectarian disintegration) but at the same time introduce police state rules with a new security bill? It is like a very bad joke, or at least an insincere attitude on the part of the government. Which is the government, the one negotiating peace, or the one imposing police state rules on society?

While there are signs the security package might have been a ploy, some sort of a bargaining chip in the talks with jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, the government is still insisting the bill will not be withdrawn and rewritten with a democratic mindset. Can Turkey succeed in peacemaking with such a crooked approach?

The micro-nationalist Kurdish political elements on the other hand talk of peace, while at the same time threaten violence might escalate should their demands not be met. What kind of a Kurdish opening is that? How can something sincere emerge from a process full of attempts to take the other side hostage? However, in this endeavor, both the government and the Kurds must act with awareness that all is on one side and the problems could be resolved not through meeting some petty demands from Öcalan but rather by eradicating the anti-democratic luggage this country inherited from its recent history.

Recently, the Human Rights Association released its report on human rights violations in Turkey in 2014. The association does not have a good reputation for many in the country because of the perception that it has been very attentive to violations of Kurdish rights but often deaf and blind to the sufferings of other groups in the country. The 2014 report of the association as one invalidating that prejudiced perception. According to the 477-page report, in 2014, 103 persons – 15 of them children – were “executed,” 11,262 persons were detained (of which a total of 1,273 of these were arrested) and police intervened with excessive force in a total of 646 demonstrations.

On their own these were just some figures, but all together they represent a very serious rights photograph of Turkey. These figures show that Turkey urgently needs to educate and train its police in democracy and the democratic rights of the people, rather than trying to equip the police with added powers.

It is perhaps high time for the tall bold bald and ever angry man singlehandedly ruling the country to think of what else can be done rather than toughening the already tough laws to achieve peace, security and tranquility in the country.