ORHAN KEMAL – Was the German president wrong to criticize Turkey?

Was the German president wrong to criticize Turkey?When it comes to human rights violations, there is no such thing as “domestic affairs.” When a husband beats his wife, it is not a domestic affair likewise when a state tortures people or limits the basic rights of its citizens, it cannot hide behind solid walls made of some “fancy” concepts such as domestic or internal affairs. I believe everyone has the power and legitimate cause to state their concerns about any kind of human rights violations in any corner of the world. Stating concerns about the condition of human rights in a country is not interference in its internal affairs. Limiting the freedom of expression or making arbitrary arrests is not like commerce, mining or investment, which are governed by the sovereign policies of the respected countries. Therefore, when there is criticism of restrictions of fundamental rights, no one can say to anyone that it is not his business. German President Joachim Gauck stated very well-founded concerns about the state of some basic rights and freedoms in Turkey when he was in our country. I read the full text of the speech Gauck delivered at Middle East Technical University (ODTu) that made Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan very angry. As a person who lived under the totalitarian and repressive rule of East Germany, and as someone who fought against that rule as a rights activist, he shared his concerns with the citizens of Turkey. Gauck, because of his own experience in East Germany, is, of course, capable of diagnosing totalitarian and authoritarian tendencies. I have exactly the same concerns that Gauck spoke of at ODTu. Any person with democratic values would be seriously worried about the horrifying new National Intelligence Organization (MIT) law would be quite suspicious about why on earth a government is trying to shut down Twitter would be seriously concerned about the government’s unprecedented pressure on the judiciary and law enforcement officers after very serious allegations of corruption among Cabinet ministers were revealed and would be concerned about worrying developments concerning the principle of the separation of powers. Gauck referred to these matters in a very diplomatic way and used quite careful language when he framed them. There was not one word in his speech that personally targeted any politician or official in Turkey. He did not try to insult ErdoIan or anyone else. But it is obvious that his words were taken by ErdoIan as an insult to his government and to him as a person. In return, he was trying to insult Gauck by saying: “He needs to act like a statesman. He must still feel like a pastor — because he was a pastor at one time. He is looking at things from that angle.” It looks something like this: You say to someone that he or she acted in a rude way, and in return he swears at you. The German president mentioned his worries about anti-democratic and authoritarian tendencies in Turkey, and in return, our prime minister shows how intolerant he is of any criticism about the way he rules this country. And this extremely intolerant attitude of any criticism, whether it comes from members of the high judiciary, from the media, from intellectuals, or from the president of a friendly country, as happened in the Gauck case, just shows us how difficult it is for ErdoIan to change his authoritarian tendencies

SOURCE: Todays Zaman