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Turkish columnists on the Gezi Park protests (ECoHR)

Kader Kadem | 06:07 | 0 Comments
Echr, Ecohr, Various columnists commented on the developments in Turkey during the last few days.Various columnists commented on the developments in Turkey during the last few days.
Under the title "The one-man show has ended", Emre Uslu wrote in Zaman (06.06.13):

"[?] the [Justice and Development Party] AKP, particularly in recent years, has adopted a strategy promoting him as the leader of the Muslim world. Strategy has been put in place since Turkey's "one minute" crisis with Israel emphasizing [Recep Tayyip] Erdo an's role as leader and his appeal to the Arab street above all have generated excitement among his followers about his leadership abilities.

It seems the reason the AKP has formulated its strategy around the character of Erdo an is largely to capitalize on the vulnerability of the opposition: its comparatively weaker leaders. Rather than putting issues before the people, AKP strategists bring the charismatic prime minister before them, highlighting the differences between Erdo an and the opposition party leaders. This serves...to the easy manipulation of political discourse to suit the ruling party.

"Turning politics into a one-man show necessitates playing with hot and divisive issues that drive wedges into society. The abortion issue is one such issue, dividing people sharply into two camps: liberals who support abortion and the larger segment of society on the one hand, making up around 70 percent of the population, and conservatives who would join the AKP and Erdo an on the other. By enlivening such issues and using Erdo an's charm to manipulate political discourse the AKP strategists strive to forge a more conservative society and to galvanize those conservative elements around Erdo an... It seems the AKP strategy to build their future around the performance, the outlook, the vision of Erdo an is in fact a fatal strategy, one that not only enhances a perception of Turkey as a conservative nation but is a risk to its wellbeing also. It is a strategy that turns politics into a one-man show.

The protests in Gezi Park in 0 stanbul are just an outcome of this one-man show. The protesters are not particularly against the AKP government, they are not against Abdullah G?l for instance, and there are AKP supporters among them. What they are against is Erdo an and his bossy language in politics.

The nature of the protests indicates that the AKP strategists failed to sees the rising public anger toward Erdo an as they try to promote Erdo an as the one and only true politician. While the AKP strategists underlining there is no alternative to Erdo an, therefore, building their strategy to remove all political alternatives from the scene and keep the opposition weak, the Gezi protests mobilized peoples' anti-Erdo an sentiments.

This is an absolute disaster for Erdo an and his team. They need to alter their strategy. Either they need to carve out a friendlier and welcoming leader who plays the role of Mother Teresa and expect Erdo an to play such a role successfully, or they need to find a new legitimate target for Erdo an to fight against to mobilize the AKP supporters around him one more time. [& ] I think it would not be a mistake to predict: the one-man show has ended." Under the title "The Battle of Taksim and beyond", Burak Bekdil wrote in Hurriyet (05.06.13):

"[& ] Once again, Mr. Erdo an looked amusingly unconvincing when he tagged hundreds of thousands of protesters as "looters, marginal and members of illegal organizations;" or when he blamed nationwide protests on "foreign enemies who envy Turkey." But for the deaf, useful and disposable idiots, Mr. Erdo an once again clarified his understanding of democracy: Dissent is legal only when expressed at the ballot box! (His words).

The past four days were no doubt "scary" for Mr. Erdo an and his men, although one government MP shrugged off the protests, saying "they think they can start a revolution with their drunken heads." Honorable members of parliament; the drunken heads made the headlines all around the world except Turkey where "top news channels" preferred to broadcast cooking programs at the same moments their foreign colleagues were covering the protests in every detail. Self-censorship could not have been exposed better.

The Battle of Taksim was a psychological victory for the protesters. Now they are more confident than before that in the next battle the police will have to kill them, not just spray them with tear gas ? unless of course the police launched a discreet witch-hunt in the days ahead and arrested thousands of dissidents on charges of being members of various unheard of terrorist organizations. We know from his own statements that there is hardly a very thin line between what dissent and terrorism mean to Mr Erdo an. [& ] "On the other hand, one of Erdogan's supporters and assistant, Yalcin Akdogan, who is writing under the pseudonym Yasin Dogan, wrote the following in Yeni Safak (05.06.13) under the title "Opportunists and Fallen Masks":

"Different circles seeking to take advantage of the incidents in Taksim all have different agendas. Everybody wants something different?

On the one hand there are regular people enraged for such reasons as "trees, shopping malls and police violence." [?] On the other hand there is the CHP [Republican People's Party] and its supporters who failed to cope with the government at the ballot box and who are now trying to topple the government by gathering all the marginal elements in a status quo bloc. Among them are illegal organizations known for their actions that verge on terrorism, and for the law and order problems they are creating.

Some are trying to bring down the government, harm it and weaken it. Others are trying to teach the government a lesson or warn it. It can be seen that those who are over-critical of the government, especially just recently, have succumbed to the thrill of "let us slap them a few times while we are at it."

What is really sad about this business is the way certain liberal/left-wing/democrat persons who are criticizing the government for shortcomings in democracy or style and manner, are acting in unison with a bloc that fights against just these ideals and values, and they are applauding them.

Those circles delivering an environmental message or criticizing the government's style did indeed perform a function at one stage of this process. The other stage of this process sees a different band that is trying to bring down the elected government by engaging in political schemes and provocation. They are opposed to the core to the 12 Sept referendum, to the new constitution and to the [Kurd] solution process. This bloc, which is neo-nationalist and to some degree fascist, would drown our veteran democrats in two inches of water given half a chance.

While these veteran democrats are criticizing the government with not being democratic enough and with not taking progressive steps, these neo-nationalist are subjecting the government to flak calling them traitors. It is nothing short of irony to see these two different mindsets working side by side on diametrically opposed pretexts.

All of them are waging a fight at the center of which they have placed Tayyip Erdogan. Some people cannot stand his political existence. Some want to scratch his charisma and rattle him. Those people who are tagging on to the status quo's coattails saying, "They have become large in number, too" are reacting in such a way as to be setting a trap for themselves.

Some of the statements made by Selahattin Demirtas warning his own people plus the warnings made by Devlet Bahceli are the kind that will go down in history. [..]

There are plenty of opportunists with personal interest or seeking to gain political ground by benefiting from all the smoke. They will be noted as a disgrace and a scream.

The CHP for its part is going to pay the price both legally and politically for the damage, the provocation and the plot.

The games of those who want to organize politics by propagating fear are plain for all to see. Let nobody assume that it is not known or understood who is trying to do what, or what kind of underhanded manipulation is being attempted. This affair has removed the masks so that everybody's true face can better be seen."
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