(Published in Cumhuriyet daily on January 12, 2023)
We've known for a long time that there are people unfortunately trying to pull the nails out of this country. Let's not forget that the Republic founded by Atatürk, thanks to its logic, strong roots, and unshakable structure, stands up against everything and shows a strong resistance, hard like a rock. In 2023, which is also the year of the great election and as we approach the 100th anniversary of our Republic on October the 29th, we again faced “nauseating” events. Today I want to discuss three of them. The behavior of Army commanders who gave to Erdoğan applause as he was heavily criticizing the opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in internal politics, the murder of Sinan Ateş ex-President of Ülkü Ocakları “Young Gray Wolves” youth organization within the extremity of the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) (current partner of Erdoğan) and especially the constitutional amendment proposal that came to our agenda with the issue of "women and the headscarf" once again last autumn.
WHAT IS A SOLDIER AND WHAT IS NOT?
Something that may seem like a minor detail happened the other day. The scene where the Army Commanders applauded the president altogether on domestic political issues almost took my breath away from anger. The soldiers are supposed to defend their loyalty to Türkiye, to the Republic founded by Atatürk and to the constitution; They cannot belong to any political faction, they cannot be a yes-man for of any political party. The President is Erdoğan today, maybe Kılıçdaroğlu tomorrow or another name later on... A soldier is not a political actor who can have an umbilical cord with any of these names. They can't! A member of the Turkish Armed Forces has to be an individual who wants the Republic to continue and the laws to be implemented, totally impartial, only on the side of the State, worthy of Atatürk and his uniform. Couldn't those commanders be aware of this? Or do they just have the Ministry of National Defense, where Hulusi Akar currently resides, as an exemplary goal in their career plan? As they move away from the basic principles of military culture, it is inevitable that this degeneration will spread to the lower echelons. There is something worse: appointments and assignments in the Turkish Armed Forces are no longer decisions taken by the Army members themselves; It is done with the decisions taken by the Ministry of National Defense. This has been going on for two years, and the structure of the Armed Forces is gradually deteriorating, being politicized, and the soldiers are staring at the eyes of the politicians for their promotions and appointments. That's exactly why, in the right place of this bad course, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu made a strong comment: “If you surround yourself with soldiers who are recruiting careers in the corridors of politics, you're left with Middle Eastern uniforms with lots of starry epaulettes. Let the command echelon within the army know its limits, let it understand what its position is. Do they want to do politics? Let them take off that uniform, let them line up straight next to Erdoğan!” I applaud every single word of it!
THE ASSASSINATION OF SİNAN ATEŞ
I can't find words to express my deep shock! This case is getting worse and worse. World history has rarely experienced such a disgrace. The person who presided over the Ülkü Ocakları (Young Gray Wolves), which is considered MHP’s youth branch, is being executed in the middle of the street in the heart of the capital Ankara. As MHP, you remain a complete stranger on the subject. You're not getting into the game! That big political funeral, which normally should have been attended by all deputies together of MHP and even with the participation of the big partner of the government, just didn’t happen! Instead, only a modest ceremony was held with the participation of Ateş's family and one of the high-ranking parliamentarians, only the opposition’s İYİ Party Group Deputy Chairman Musavat Dervişoğlu. In the midst of all this strange indifference, main opposition leader (CHP) Kılıçdaroğlu and his partner “Türkiye’s Iron Lady” Akşener from the IYI Party became the leaders who quickly disrupted the atmosphere of silence that they were trying to be create and demanded accountability for the murder. In this incident, I couldn't believe that I couldn't hear more than what I heard! While the MHP and the big partner of the government, AKP, do not open their mouths, as a natural reflex, a thousand and one questions come to mind. Of course, not only this, this is Türkiye; thousands of rumors begin to flow one after the other. These feelings, which even Kılıçdaroğlu refrained from voicing before the investigation was completed, intensify the mysterious smoke screen. around the subject. MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, who normally makes the earth groan with the simplest clues and cheers up the pulpits and microphones with the most ludicrous examples, analogies, idioms, proverbs, does not mention even once the name of Sinan Ateş, who has been the head of his youth organization until now! This is not enough, even the most ordinary citizen of Türkiye asks him/herself, “Well, why was this man killed, who killed him and who was the responsible instigator?” He gives unbelievable reactions when he hears questions such as: "We will never thank those bloodless people who act as if they are dying to attract our immaculate case, our pristine friends from our Party into an abominable murder". Then, as an answer to opposition leader Kılıçdaroğlu who asks him to surrender his responsible “youngsters”, he goes on: “If you have a courageous heart, come here and try to take anyone of them from us so that I can see how many ounces your liver is worth”.
From here, the only conclusion we can try to deduce with this logic would be:
“This is all our internal matter, what's going on with you? Why are you bringing it up? Why are you keeping this murder on the agenda? Why are you wondering? The dead dies, the rest stays, these are our field. Don't get involved or we'll rip out your liver."
So in logical summary, this is Bahçeli's attitude...
Let's look at the bigger picture and translate it: Do all these reactions and unresponsiveness mean that we have our new “Susurluk” after 26 years? (Susurluk was a small city around which in 1996, a car accident revelated suddenly all the dirty relations between right wing politicians, the police and the mafia) Any member of the government who would argue the opposite should first start by explaining in a transparent way to the public why they never got involved trying to resolve immediately the case of this murder, why they did not mention Sinan Ateş's name, and what information they have not shared with the public until now. Although, the probability that any statement they will make after this time will be “convincing”, is a big zero!
Can you imagine what would happen if this scenario was reversed? I have no words to say: God forbid, if a former CHP youth branch president had been killed and the CHP had not attended the funeral, had not made its outmost efforts to shed light onto that murder, what would Erdoğan or Bahçeli have said, or what kind of things they would’ve deduced from that behavior, please just sit down and think! At the moment, our only hope is that the judicial process in Ankara, which we want to believe will be led in an independent and impartial way, and that the Police Department will reveal where the clues and evidence of the incident lead us even if it goes up to the highest point, without looking at anyone's tear or without fearing any political backlashes.
THE CONSTITUTIONAL TRAP CANNOT BE TAKEN TO A REFERENDUM!
While Iranian women, who cannot bear to be oppressed any more under the pressure of the headscarf and chador they have been forced to live with for years, continue their rightful and persistent resistance at the expense of their lives, while the "veiling" phenomenon in Türkiye is tried to be handled as a purely “democratic freedom” (!) issue, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu out of the blue, very surprisingly ignited this issue, which was normally constantly brought forward by the bigoted part of our male-dominated society. Those are the people who did not fully understand the nature of the concept of democracy, this time. Kilicdaroglu placed a dynamite both in the political agenda of our country and the one of CHP, women's rights, secularism, and social peace, without being able to account for the aftershocks of his move, which he carried out quite uselessly through today's dynamics, even with the intention of depriving him of the weapon he uses whenever the power gets stuck. At this very point, Tayyip Erdoğan used Kılıçdaroğlu's challenge to him regarding the headscarf, which remains one of his favorite material in his political career: He announced that they would consider it as a constitutional article, not a law proposal. Thus, since then this intruding useless headache to our agenda continued to grow like a snowball.
If a general package was prepared under the name of women's rights and gender equality and solutions were produced against women's deaths, violence, subordination and inequality of opportunity; If the laws that have very clear sanctions against the domination of sect-derived formations over women and children and the dangers they openly pose, which guarantee the freedom of dressing, and who covet this freedom and deal with women's mini skirt lengths or decollate on the right and left, severe penalties await; If a move could be on the agenda to remedy the damages arising from the rejection of the Istanbul Convention; If we were talking about a regulation that recognizes that everyone has the right and security to shape their private and social life as they wish, including the freedom of marriage, starting from LGBTIQ+ individuals, and every bit of it smells of real democracy, maybe we could be talking about a situation that really benefits the society. But on the contrary, a "Constitutional Article" that was forced into the agenda by the pressure of the sects that try to appear libertarian and see themselves as the AKP's backyard, of course, cannot go beyond an obvious trap!
Coming back to today, it is a perfectly correct decision that the CHP and İYİ Party refused to meet with the AKP Constitution commission on this issue. By emphasizing the uniform family structure, which is the product of a conservative logic that jeopardizes the basic articles of the Constitution on secularism, and saying, "It is the primary duty of the state to protect the family structure, which is the foundation of Turkish society, and to take precautions against all kinds of dangers, threats, attacks, corruption and deviance", only an AKP scenario can be developed. can be revealed.
A modern, progressive, pluralistic, and inclusive constitutional arrangement could not be put forward by claiming that “only two individuals of the opposite sex, male and female, can marry in the society and emphasizing that no other union can be accepted as marriage!”
Another aspect of the matter is how binding the laws are in Türkiye. What is decisive in practice is sometimes not the existing laws, but the way laws are read and applied, and even political preferences. While many male and female candidates who passed these stages with sweat and with a high degree of success in the tests were eliminated in various professional exams, despite their low scores, the concept of merit and justice was disregarded by some headscarved female candidates or some male candidates who belong to foundations and associations with religious sect extensions. All those unjust hirings have already become one of the country's typical incomprehensible/indigestible entrenched injustices.
While this is the case despite the existing laws and laws, there is no point in switching to “opportunist headscarf repression practices” with new “legal” regulations. Therefore, it is insufficient to assert that only the immunity files of the IYI Party's Lütfü Türkkan and CHP Mersin Deputy Ali Mahir Basarir were brought to the constitutional agenda meeting, cannot solely be the reason for the "no" answer to the AKP's request for an appointment for constitutional amendment. These are additional grounds. Dealing with the matter from the beginning and fundamentally in this way is no different from a black hole anyway. The ballot box that the AKP wants to put is nothing but a trap that leaves open doors for demagoguery aimed at changing the atmosphere of the coming critical elections most likely in Spring 2023. The fact that the number 336, formed by those who signed the approval for this constitutional change within the parliament, would not exceed even by a single signature, and therefore immediately falls off from our agenda for good, is the “sine qua non” path that the opposition should follow. (400 votes in the parliament would mean that the constitution change would be approved directly, a figure between 336 and 399 would mean that the President would have the power to take the proposal of constitution change into a referendum. Less than 336 votes would mean that the proposition would falls off the agenda)