What a Republic Day!

What a Republic Day!

Today Turkey will be marking the 89th anniversary of the proclamation of the Turkish Republic, hopefully without police using teargas, spraying water cannons or indiscriminately beating up Turks gathered to mark the Republic Day. Turning a celebration of the Republic into some sort of a criminal act to be punished ought to be considered a peculiar success of a government.

Indeed, there are more than sufficient reasons to cancel the celebrations. Rampant separatist terrorism; over 600 convicts in prisons are on hunger fasts; number of Syrian “guests” hosted at camps in Turkey exceeds 105,000 and civil war in Syria is heading toward becoming a regional war; thousands of critics confined behind bars with concocted evidences. Worse, the heinous “suicide killer” strategy of the separatist gang has turned all gatherings into “security risks.”

The Ankara governor, citing “top secret intelligence,” has cancelled a celebration planned to be held in front of the first parliament building. The governor, of course, must be concerned for the security of the city’s people. But, rather than banning a celebration, should he not be expected to take adequate security measures to diffuse the threat? Indeed, what matters is the intention. The officious governor must have been trying to appease the ruling Islamists by banning the celebration of the anniversary of the secular Republic. The Islamists and their neoliberal collaborators have already started commenting that the secular Republic is lying on its death bed, but secularists are unaware and still celebrate.

Is it really so? Atatürk had said the creation of the Republic was his greatest achievement. The Republic was built on three fundamental principles, which unfortunately were not always held above everything else. These were secularism and supremacy of law and of course by supremacy of national will. A fourth element that would make Turkey a democracy but that was not so much present in the founding period was freedom of thought. Over the years Turkey acquired that principle also to some degree.

Today secularism is getting a new and perhaps a far wider inclusive interpretation. Supremacy of law has unfortunately become supremacy of the wishes and aspirations of the absolute leader and his political clan. National will has been turned into an understanding to support majoritarian rule. The already problematic freedom of thought, on the other hand, has been devastated as testified with the fact that Turkey has become the country with the highest number of journalists, students, academics and critics of all professions behind bars, sentenced or under custody.

Still, we ought to be proud of our republic and have confidence in its future as even Süleiman the Magnificent could not rule for ever… There is a morning after every night.