To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail

Here is a translation of my column – for daily Bugün – published yesterday:


At first glance, the ‘overall picture’ shows: firmly convinced that he commands the key positions of the state, the new hegemon has totally adopted the security reflexes of his predecessor; the old epauletted hegemon.

The hammer, which must have been cast aside for good, has just changed hands.

The new owner of the hammer sees every ongoing problem, all of which he came to power to solve, as a nail.

When rapes and murders of women surge, the first thing coming to their mind is castration and death penalty. That is exactly what reflex is. When you don’t have a capacity for soul-searching, or the virtue to ask ‘Is it our fault?’, those measures that can only aggravate problems seem more useful, easier and more comfortable to you.

That freak of a bill named Domestic Security Package also evokes the same hammer-nail simile at first glance.

Despite all prudent appeals, ‘don’t do it’ warnings by bar associations, despite outcries like ‘Don’t give us a new state of emergency nightmare’, despite lawyers taking to the streets en masse, that freak of a bill, which is by no stretch of the imagination consistent and is going to wipe out Turkey’s democracy target, was finally brought to Parliament with the insistence ‘it will be passed into law in any case.’

What does this insistence, this panic mood, this headstrong attitude and course aim at? Why has the AKP’s ‘liberalism’, which subsequently turned out to be apparently deceitful, misleading andinsincere, given way to security obsession?

It’s simple!

The police state project, whose construction accelerated, is intended to secure the autocracy of the current government (at least) until 2023, by ‘criminalizing’ the entire opposition. The project proceeds through reconsidering death penalty, through arbitrary detention and wiretapping, considering marbles as weapon, giving police broader authority to use their weapons and sending young people to jail by regarding even the softest criticism and opposition as ‘insult.’

What’s intended is to ensure the fortification of that ugly concrete power structure, which they try to sell as New Turkey by feeding people mythological discourses, against every kind ofdemocratic challenge.

The project called peace process also fits the same shoddy mould. The most important objective in the short term is the supposed ‘security’ of the elections.

Those saying that things seem dire will be intimidated into silence. Whoever takes to the streets – be it men, women, children – will be beaten and jailed.

A religious section of society that is worried but displaying passive resistance will be penetrated, to the accompaniment of ‘parallel’ ravings.

While discordant sounds of lie manufacturers resound, the universal principle ‘innocence is assumed until guilt is conclusively established’ will be trampled on with the rebuke ‘get off!’ and lives will be made miserable. They will thus sow discord among believers.

‘Deliberation of deliberations’ will be held with more ‘formidable’ ones, to ensure no road accident occurs on the eve of the elections.

The rest will be figured out later. Just wait till we cross the last bridge. Those acting as if they were smart calculate this.

Will it go well? I’m not sure at all.

The smouldering cauldron called AKP began to give out bubbles. Many signs have appeared and are piling up there.

Most importantly, women took to the streets.

If the lethargic opposition was wise, that would be a force to be reckoned with.

Safety of women is one of the most crucial issues in this country. Whoever wins women over will be likely to come to power.

Another important development is on the side of ‘Kurdish Political Movement.’ The peace process undermines Öcalan’s authority. Kandil [PKK’s leadership] sees the ‘deliberation of deliberation’ as an apparent ruse due to the lack of a constitutional-legal basis.

Ignorance on the side of the AKP and its supporters is so great that they think they can attain their goal by driving a wedge between Öcalan and the Union of Kurdish Communities (KCK).
It’s sheer blindness.

No one is convinced that the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) can pass the freak of the 10-percent election threshold, either. Even the question ‘How and where can the HDP find observers for 167,000 ballot boxes?’ is not answered yet.

In short, we are in dangerous waters.

The trouble is that if the AKP’s ramshackle plan fails, the whole society will pay the bill with people further falling out with each other.

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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