CAFER – The real barrier to democratization

The real barrier to democratizationThe Kurdish “solution process” has led to many hope-inspiring steps being taken on this front, but of course this process also carries with it the risk of new clashes occurring. Of course, we don’t know what is happening behind closed doors. But when one simply questions what is going on, or mentions one’s own personal thoughts or suggestions with regard to achieving a permanent state of peace, one is immediately labeled as being “anti-peace.” All that is wanted of Turkish citizens is to applaud Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan and his actions.In the meantime, Alevi demands for equal citizenship are being resolutely ignored and overlooked. The Alevi places of prayer, the “cemevis,” are not being given official legal status. As a religious community, the Alevis, and Alevism itself, continue to “not exist” within the state. When citizens raise their voices to remind others that Alevis have democratic concerns, that freedom of religion and conscience are some of the most essential elements of democracy, and that the Directorate of Religious Affairs has a structure, mission and status that create and produce discrimination, either their voices are ignored, or their voices are suppressed with demagoguery. In the meantime, the chorus of government supporters intones, “See, you are speaking, what more do you want?” while criticizing Alevis who don’t openly thank ErdoIan, who, they say, has made it possible for these issues to even be discussed.The more religious, devout citizens of the Turkish Republic are another faction that has suffered under official state ideology, but which has experienced relative relief during the Justice and Development Party (AKP) era. Belittled and excluded in the past, these citizens have finally seen the stamp of “backwardness” removed. But, not content with just being a political party, the AKP has, in the name of fortifying its own ruling power, begun to pit pious citizens against one another, especially those who do not obey the AKP. Those who are connected to and devoted to the Hizmet movement, for example, have, for months now, been the targets of AKP-backed insults and operations they have also been summarily removed from state jobs and subjected to baseless accusations. In the meantime, those openly critical of these unjust operations — the likes of which were not even seen during coup periods over the course of the republic’s history — are either labeled “traitors to the country,” or accused of being “coup-supporters” and “servants of the parallel structure.” Thus, we see that all that is really expected of Turkish citizens now is to believe in ErdoIan and follow a line of thinking that asserts, “If he is doing something, it must be right.” In other words, one’s job, as citizen, is not to think, examine or ask questions.The ruling AKP is the center of extremely serious allegations of bribery and corruption these days. It has entered into a resolute operation of elimination, with the goal of preventing these allegations from taking on clear-cut dimensions with any foundation for prosecution. As a part of this, the AKP is trampling all over the justice system, using new laws and regulations designed to leave the justice system without any real function. At the same time, the national intelligence agency is being equipped with authority that allows it to disregard all limits, laws, or rules. Also, a new Internet censorship law has been introduced and social media portals have been banned. Not only are large portions of the Turkish media under the direct control of the AKP, but everything possible is being done to make sure that media organs that have not submitted to the state are not able to function.The AKP is searching for ways and formulas that will allow it to take not only the printed press but also Internet media under direct supervisory control. (And, to wit, there is talk now that a board similar to the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTuK) is being created to oversee the printed press and Internet media.) Everyone who understands that freedoms of the press, thought and expression are all integral parts of democracy perceives these recent developments in Turkey as signs that the country is becoming more and more removed from democracy and freedom. Those who express their very real worries on these fronts are the immediate targets of government rage. In fact, many journalists have lost their jobs during this period, while a number of daily columns have simply been shut down. When it comes to the journalists who comprise the government-supporting media, the professional, daily smearing of those who dare to complain about what is happening in Turkey will no doubt be recorded as one of the most embarrassing and unfortunate roles that could be played in this era.I am stopping here. In this tableau that I have summarized above, is it at all possible to defend the practices and mentality of this anti-freedom and anti-democratic ruling party, supposedly done in the name of democracy and freedom? In the end, we are all bound by our choices. It is, of course, understandable that the AKP is fighting for its own interests. But for it to claim that it is “fighting for democracy and freedom” is nothing other than an ugly skewing of the truth and sheer demagoguery in its purest form.The democratization of Turkey has become the question and problem of just how this country is going to transcend this monopolizing, authoritarian rul

SOURCE: Todays Zaman