OPINION

HDP rally in 2015. Kurdish and Turkey flags together / Unknown

02/08/2016 - 17:10 0
Values That Defeated Turkey Coup are its Casualties

It is becoming clearer everyday, the failed coup in Turkey was not the victory of democracy over dictatorship. It was the defeat of Kemalism (hardline secularism and democratic nationalism) to Islamic despotism, a defeat that legitimized a violent opponent cleansing in the country. Erdogan--whose thirst for power led to organizing an election after the June election and didn’t hesitate to polarize the country to win absolute power--is no democratic president.

Two ultranationalist forces clashed, Erdogan and the military. Despite the initial illusions of success, the unusually incompetent and miscalculated coup failed to control media or to win people’s support.

Erdogan owes his country to the mosques that stayed lit all night and called on people from loudspeakers to take to the streets and face the tanks, jets and guns. When he returned to Istanbul from his vacation, his fans greeted him not with national anthems or words of welcome in Turkish but with “Ya Allah, Bismillah,” Arabic Islamic words. His fans are fueled by religion.

The Turkish President has been and continues to bank on polarization in a country already divided by ideology (secularism vs. Islam) and nationalism. And now the victory has justified public bloodshed. The photos released after the military surrendered (the group who for the most part did not open fire on civilians), shows the youth being whipped and tortured on streets. 

The Obama administration was quick to support the leader of a NATO member and ally, calling Erdogan’s rule a “democratically-elected government” and urging all parties to “show restraint, and avoid any violence or bloodshed.”

The US has so far failed to blame Erdogan for his lack of restraint, or to condemn the violence and heavy crackdowns, the dismissing of over two thousand judges, military officers, academics etc.

The double standard is neither new nor surprising. Since last June, the Kurdish region of Turkey has been unstable and militarized. More than a hundred civilians were killed in a basement in Cizre and hundreds of thousands have been displaced. The United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have warned about the military abuse in the southeast.

Yet the pro-autonomy left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was quick to condemn the coup even though Kurdish civilians could potentially have taken a short break from the oppression at the hands of the army, that has been justified in the name of “security.” After all, the day before the coup, Turkey issued curfew in nearly 40 villages in the Kurdish region. Nonetheless, the HDP stood by its values, stating: “As a matter of principle and under all circumstances [HDP] is against all kinds of coups.”

The voice that is ignored in national and international media and political circles is that of the co-chair of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtas also known as the ‘Kurdish Obama’, who responded that Turkey needs a level of democracy that would eliminate the need for a coup. That was his response to an attempt at overthrowing the man who recently stripped immunity from him and other MPs and labeled him a terrorist.

Ethics, patience and logic have been the main casualties of the latest upheaval in Turkey. Even if Erdogan did not plot the coup, he was surprisingly quick to turn it into an opportunity to unleash his Islamic despotism.

Rabblerousing is what Trump, Erdogan and the Brexit phenomenon have in common. They all prove people are moved more by hate than by reason. They show we live in a world where the divide-and-rule policy is alive and effective.

Any good that could possibly come out of this coup attempt would be realizing the threat of division, which has doomed the country. Those in Ankara and Istanbul, who experienced living with the sounds of jets and gunshots for one night, could now sympathize with Kurds, who have experienced this for over a year and repeatedly throughout history. Secular and religious leaders could focus on the common cause of justice to unite and save their country, but unfortunately this isn't happening and the Kurds are being further isolated, disregarded and pushed out.


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