Turkey’s sad situation…
From the far end corner of a hotel conference room packed with young journalists and journalism students from various parts of the country, I was observing with great excitement a course on data journalism when a young colleague gently whispered to my ear, “Sorry, I have just heard the was a blast on İstiklal Avenue [in Istanbul].”
I was shocked. Tears poured down my face. After three blasts in five months in Ankara, I must have become too emotional. I felt sorry about why I had criticized my young friends for making me call almost everyone in the police department to demand increased security. Young participants were scared after the last Ankara blast, and very reluctant to attend. Parents were very concerned. The data journalism conference, sponsored by the British Embassy, could get underway only after Ankara Police Department not only provided very valuable security in and outside the hotel but also checked the conference room with those famous K9 dogs.
Sad to say, but no one from the Journalists’ Association would believe it would be so difficult to organize a workshop on data journalism. Yet, after three blasts in five months, and two of them less than four weeks apart, and no one in an official position or in the intelligence and security apparatus admitting how badly they had failed, the streets of Ankara were emptied and parents wanted their children to stay away from the potential dangers of the “wild streets.”
Wild streets? Was there a government in charge of this country? Wasn’t there a security apparatus getting generous budgetary means? Why were Turks spending millions on the intelligence service if the country would be unable to prevent dastardly terrorists from blowing cars or themselves up in the most crowded and presumably secure corners of Turkish cities?
Was it normal for an entire nation to fall into such a huge distress? Definitely not. How did it happen that some creatures have made it a routine to blow up Turkish cities and send the entire nation from one shock and panic to another?
The Istanbul blast showed once again that not only Turks but everyone can become a victim of terrorism.
Israelis and an Iranian perished, while Turks and many other people of different nationalities were wounded in the İstiklal attack. Could nationality or ethnic background make a difference in the pain? No, not if the heart beating belongs to a human. It was so unfortunate that a pervert from a local organization of Turkey’s ruling party could be so insolent by being anti-Semitic even at such a horrific time. Expelling her from the party unfortunately will not help, as that message reflected a crooked and indecent mentality, an illness that I am not so sure was particular to that person.
Indeed, it has been that crooked perceptional problem that has successfully been tarnishing peace, cohesion and multi-cultural cohabitation in many parts of this troubled region. Was the blood of anyone different than others? Why people have been killing people because of religious or sectarian reasons?
It was easy for some politicians to join others in condemning terrorism after the İstiklal blast, because it was believed that the terrorist who blew himself up was apparently an Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) member, not a PKK suicide killer. This “Your terrorist, my freedom fighter” understanding at the political partiy level or in international politics must be condemned as a product of a hypocrisy assisting terrorists and causing shortcomings in the fight against terrorism.
Countries helping, supporting or abetting terrorism to enforce and advance foreign policy goals cannot be less evil than terrorists killing people mercilessly. After all, were we not all condemning them as terrorists? Can states be worse than terrorists? Definitely not. But how could I explain to a conference room packed with young people that countries would not collaborate with terrorists. That they don’t look at conjectural developments and make daily calculations but that they act with accumulated intelligence, principles and norms. That, under no conditions, do they support terrorists with arms and ammunition. That no ex-military members go to the mountains and train terrorists. That governments do not discreetly support terrorists hoping to achieve regime change in neighboring countries and that they cannot discreetly provide not only arms and ammunition but also sensitive intelligence to groups – armed and organized – outside of the security network of their country.
How could anyone advise anyone else not to panic because that was what the terrorists aim at with such heinous acts if he or she had no confidence left in the capability of a government and the intelligence network of a country to wage such a struggle?
Turkey is passing through some very sad days. The situation cannot improve before those in key positions understand they are responsible for the mess they have landed the country in. There is a need for change, from top to bottom, starting with the intelligence and security apparatus of the country. This is the sad situation of Turkey, which is unable to change. Moments before the blast, what was the subject many of us were discussing about? Was it not whether there will be yet another media takeover through court-appointed trustees?