GuNAY HILAL – Does 45 percent of the vote legitimize kicking dissenters?

Does 45 percent of the vote legitimize kicking dissenters?Following Tuesday’s major mine disaster in Soma, which is the deadliest in Turkish history, with a death toll of 284, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan paid a late visit to the district the next day. Speaking in a confident manner after offering his condolences to the victims’ families, ErdoIan said such accidents are normal and that deaths are in the nature of mining. He was then protested against by crowds while walking in the streets of Soma. “Government resign!” people shouted. ErdoIan took shelter in the entrance of a supermarket. Right after stepping into the entrance, he approached an individual and attacked him, footage has shown. However, the incident occurred in the middle of a group of people, including ErdoIan’s bodyguards, and it is not clearly understood whether ErdoIan punched or slapped the person. Taner Kuruca, who was attacked by ErdoIan, later told the media that the prime minister had mistaken him for a protester and lost his temper, adding that he would not press charges. Another scandal erupted with the emergence of a photograph showing Yusuf Yerkel, an aisor to ErdoIan, kicking a mourner on the ground while two gendarmes held the man down. In her Friday piece, Taraf daily columnist Amberin Zaman wrote that Turkey is now known around the world as a country where the prime minister beats people and his aisors kick individuals on the ground. Zaman said that after the publication of the report, she had been called constantly by various media outlets across the world, all of them asking, “Is it true?” One journalist who had watched the footage of the incident said, “What an insane man,” Zaman stated. According to Zaman, as the only Muslim country negotiating for accession to the European Union (EU), Turkey has moved forward under the government of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), and ErdoIan deserves a lot of credit for this in terms of curbing military tutelage and starting the Kurdish settlement process. “However, over the past three years, this bright picture has started to reverse. The polarization in the country is at its highest. As a nation, we are all trapped in a confined environment and keep attacking each other. Our economy has started to become fragile. External factors play a role in this. But the government is responsible as well,” Zaman said. According to Zaman, if the claims about ErdoIan’s actions in Soma are true, then the head of a government that recently adopted a new law on violence against women has publicly committed violence himself. “How can you stop this discourse? How can you entrust Turkey, a country in such a critical condition, to ErdoIan, after his latest behavior?” Zaman asked.Umur Talu, a columnist with the Haberturk daily, wrote on Friday that if taking around 45 percent of the vote in the elections can legitimize a government that kicks and assaults those who dissent, then this is exactly like the era of Turkey’s 1980 coup, during which former President Kenan Evren was “granted” the power to torture people by the 90 percent vote in favor of the post-coup constitution. Talu asked, “What kind of a country is this, where the death of around 300 people is natural, but people protesting that the government is responsible for this incident deserve to be kicked, slapped and insulted?”

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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