Wahnsinn

The title, I believe, describes the current mindset of the ruling party of Turkey, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), much more precisely than the word “madness.” Not only that, but Germans also have a strong recollection of the consequences of things going completely wrong politically in a country. The word has such strong historic references.

This mindset, fuelled by majoritarianism, has now taken not only the party hostage, but also parts of the country’s institutions and those who categorically side with the words and deeds of the leadership in the midst of destructive polarization.

In a matter of three to four years, Turkey’s observers have been watching the AKP entrench itself with the “old establishment,” the traditionally authoritarian elements of the state, redefining its political path and positioning itself against segments of society that oppose it from their vantage points, be they the CHP, Alevis, Kurds, Gülen Movement, secularists, leftists or liberals.

The path chosen by this mindset seems unalterable, and the more it signals such obstinacy, the more it looks like that an extremely divided Turkey will be dragged into territory where political competition will inevitably turn into a treacherous battle.

Turkish society does not resemble those in Central Asia, where the “silence of the lambs” is the only way to survive — literally.

The republic had a very bumpy ride, and whenever pressure over society has increased, there have always been voices of dissent, protests, peaceful or not-so-peaceful resistance and armed uprisings that often overlapped with terror. But, overall, the core of pluralism has always been somewhat intact, mainly due to the complex fabric of society.

Disregarding this historic phenomenon of Turkey, the ruling party now follows a leadership whose insistence on a regime change on the basis of an absolutist presidential system has been smoothing the path to an utterly worrying adventurism on all levels — at home and abroad.

We are at a very critical threshold.

What concerns me most is that Turkey’s friends and long-term allies, all the benevolent forces which backed the people in their democratic struggle out of hardship, are resorting to a historically foolish apathy.

A power grabbing strategy is more than obvious. Seizing control of the judiciary and media is not sufficient. More is at stake. It encompasses academia, business, municipalities and, eventually, all the genuine NGO’s and elected opposition.

Signs of danger are reaching a crucial point as it seems the bloody Kurdish conflict, causing high numbers of deaths and emigration, will force further sections of society to take a stand — or not. The most recent incidents are exposures of both individual and mass instances of “wahnsinn.”

The details of the witch-hunt against the female teacher, Ayşe, in Diyarbakır and against the 1,128 scholars who protested against the killings and violence indicate that the gates are now wide open for the bad old “dark forces” to find a leeway to spread fear, with strong hints of government backing.

With President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s depiction of all those who one way or another call for accountability and a return to peace as “traitors,” and his plea that measures be taken against them, there will be little wonder if the follow-up to his words is a mass dismissal of all of the scholars from their posts at various universities.

As Today’s Zaman reported, ”not long after Erdoğan’s speech, Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK) said it would launch a disciplinary investigation into the signatories of the declaration, threatening to fire them.”

With a patterning developing of one-way incriminations, which the power-bound institutions emulate, defying constitutional rights, more dangerous valves are now open too. Releasing a long written statement crammed with hate speech against the dissenting scholars, a mobster openly threatened them yesterday by declaring that “blood will flow in streams, and you will be showered with your own blood!”

This is where we are in terms of tension. The tradition of resistance in Turkey is known to be persistent, and, sadly, as tensions rise against the way Turkey is wildly mismanaged, much more serious consequences enter onto the agenda as possibilities.

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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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