ALI – ‘Ordinary violence’ and public image

‘Ordinary violence’ and public imageI am in Frankfurt. Before boarding the train to return to Brussels, I bought a center-left paper, namely Die Tageszeitung (taz), the paper of my university years, and a center-right paper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

Both papers ran headlines about Soma Actually, they were about a photo of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan’s close aiser about to kick a protester taz assigned half of its front page to two photos showing the prime minister’s aiser as he kicked a citizen who was lying down and security personnel who were restraining him, pressing a gun against his chest. Looking at the photos, one can see that the aiser kicked the victim several times.

The same photo, from another perspective, decorates the front page of FAZ. As I was looking at these photos, trying to form an opinion about how the Soma incident was perceived in Europe, a French friend of mine phoned me.

“All papers here have the aiser’s kick,” he said, indicating that the photo was used by papers all over Europe.This photo, it seems, has come to signify the Turkish government’s approach to the Soma disasterI don’t know which aiser passed this particular hint to Prime Minister ErdoIan, but his reference to similar accidents in the 1800s in the UK in an effort to characterize the Soma incident as “ordinary” and the photo showing his aiser kicking the citizen are two keys for the European public to understand the incident.

This photo, taz’s reporter argues, may emerge as a symbol of political realities in Turkey, a symbol of equal strength to or stronger than the “lady in red” of the Gezi Park protests.It was not a coincidence that Gezi’s “lady in red” became a symbol of the protests.

Indeed, the use of intense violence by security forces during the protests helped only to fan the flames. The protests seriously damaged the public image of the prime minister and his government, not of Turkey.

The violence-oriented discourse and hate speech fomented by ErdoIan and his government were watched by the entire world in bewilderment.The Turkish press, too, suffered a serious blow to its prestige during the Gezi Park protests.

Turkey was in the spotlight over press freedoms because of the Gezi Park protests. Actually, the media outlets were known to be fearful.

During the Gezi Park protests, the world saw that this fear was not limited to the pro-government journalists, but was haunting the entire media sectorThese protests didn’t harm Turkey’s image. The world saw not only the beautiful “lady in red,” but also numerous Turkish citizens who took to the streets to protect trees, squares and cities, didn’t relinquish their democratic rights in the face of violence and used social media to bypass censorship.

They saw a Turkey that rebelled against violence and hatred and gave the word “apulcu” (bandit, looter) a new meaning.The Soma disaster has two faces: sorrow and bitter truth.

For the sorrow of the people who lost their fathers, husbands, brothers and co-workers, all we can do is say, “May God extend to you the patience and strength to bear it.” As for the bitter truth, we know who is responsible for the disaster and we know the acts of negligence and crimes committed.

From a broad perspective, we can see that people can be held responsible for this disaster on three different levels.(1) The company that operates the mine and the company’s executives: the reports by prosecutors, professional organizations and experts will be of special importance in this regard.

(2) The responsibility and potential negligence of the ministers and ministerial staff who are supposed to implement the applicable laws and regulations and conduct inspections should be examined.(3) The following questions must be answered as they have implications for the responsibility of the government in this incident: Are laws and regulations sufficient? Are they in compliance with international standards? Why are the rules set by the International Labour Organization (ILO), of which Turkey is a member, not applied? Why is the government reluctant to open Chapter 19, on social policy and employment, as part of full membership negotiations with the European Union, although there is no political obstacle to doing so?A close look at the developments since the early days of the disaster implies that there is no attempt or will to shed light on the disaster For the prime minister, “Accidents are to be expected in this business and accidents are normal.

” So far, no one has resigned. As a matter of fact, here is another bitter truth: Accident management is done by the ministers, ministerial staff and company officials who can be held responsible for the accident in the first place.

They know what evidence can be used against them in a criminal investigation. We saw the same attitude during the first week of the graft and bribery investigation that was made public on Dec.

17, 2013.The Soma disaster, the violence covered by the international press and the Turkish government’s indifference — don’t they all have a familiar ring? We believed the Turkey where cries about social sorrows were suppressed with kicks and violence was a thing of the past.

But it seems we are still haunted by the habits of the White Turks.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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