From ’Gezi spirit’ to spirit of June 7

Ever since the Gezi protests of spring 2013 were brutally put down by the police of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, observers from inside and outside the country have questioned how the Gezi dynamic might be translated into Turkish politics. As time passes, though, most seem to view Gezi as a fond memory to be commemorated annually. This is precisely what happened this past May 31 at a rally for Gezi, which despite being weak was still subject to police intervention.
Even the president mockingly referenced this yearand’s Gezi protests, saying and”So, they convened some 3,000 people there who do they think theyand’re representing?and” Lately, it appeared that what we call the and”Gezi spiritand” — a dynamic produced by transformations of the post-1980 coup dand’andeacutetat and in particular by the reformist 2002-2005 period — had been buried before its time. Now, though, with the election result of June 7, the spirit has been born again. This time its roots emanate from Kurdistan to embrace the entire country. In essence, what we are now witnessing is a changing of the guard, a switching of hats between political Islam and the Kurdish political movement, the two driving forces of Turkish politics that have been empowered since the end of military rule in 1983. As I wrote in the wake of the 2011 elections: and”The [Justice and Development Party] AKPand’s period of mastery has been in action for a while now, and will become official from June 13. Unfortunately, the shirt the master tailor has cut and sewn for Turkey is quite tight. But it is also quite doubtful that Turkey, which has spent the last 30 years trying to free itself from the 1982 Constitution, will be accepting a new straitjacket. To wit, society has become accustomed to the generous, comfortable shirts designed by the master during his apprenticeship period. The AKP voter base is included in the definition of that society. Which is why the masterand’s job will not be easy! There is now a society in Turkey that files its protests, that has tasted the joy of doing so in loud voices, that has seen the imposition of single-type thinking broken down thanks to reformist action by AKP, and that says andlsquonoand’ to all the lies and taboos created in the earlier period of nation-building. Whatand’s more, this is a first for society. Is it really possible to tie down a society that has tasted the fruits of democracy, and that has decided to take its own future and fate under control? Of course not!and” Later, in September 2012, in a column titled and”Liability, voice, exit,and” I wrote: and”When there is great protest — and this means that politics have prevailed — it means that there is a light on the horizon, no matter how faint. And if this is the case, it means Turkeyand’s period of modernization is starting up again and for real. And in the face of monotype impositions from atop, it means the period of struggle has begun for workers, women, children, nature, animals, those of different sexual orientation, the headscarved and anyone fighting for their rights when ethnicity or religion are concerned. The genie is out of the bottle we can be assured that Turkey is not prepared to put on any new straightjacket, even if it is one bearing AKP labels. Let that great non-violent protestor, Gandhi, shed some light on the truth we face: andlsquoFirst they discount you, then they laugh at you, and then they tease you, and in the end, you winand’.and” I repeated something along these lines right after Gezi: and”Let me reuse one of Mr. Erdoganand’s expressions to assert here that andlsquoI hope no one is offendedand’, but this nation is not prepared to put on a straitjacket again. Including the AKP, which shows total obedience to its leader, all of the old parties of Turkey, even when they win the elections, will flounder some when it comes to trying to lead this country. Much as the former powerful did after the Feb. 28 coup periodandhellipand” On June 7 the people of Turkey proved to themselves and the entire world just how peaceful and mature they were able to remain in the face of the leadershipand’s power, tyranny and hubris. In both the east and west of the country, a historic journey was set out upon. And what was achieved in the Gezi and”laboratoryand” started to spread across the entire country. The fact that the omnipotent Erdogan was nowhere to be seen on Sunday evening was proof of the utter failure of all his aspirations to become reality. Enough for today, though. Tomorrow weand’ll talk of the Constitution, the fate of peace-building, the (im)possible coalitions, early elections and whether we might see a new AKP without Erdogan. Whether or not the political era we are now facing looks dark, let us hope that the dynamic of June 7 will overcome this darkness, allowing us to enjoy, if only for a little while, the taste of peace in our society.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman