It’s abductions inside Turkey and abroad. Contrary to a law prohibition, policemen (not women) stand guard in hospital labour wards waiting to send mothers back to prison together with their newborns as soon as it is possible after delivery.
It doesn’t matter. Even if you are not a criminal, you still risk arrest, trial and facing the consequences, including torture. Extraditions abound in many outside countries, even if they mean going against INTERPOL rules. The end justifies the means.
This is the safety-and-peace-devoid wagon on which Turkey entered the year 2021. The circumstances, if anything, suggest the country needs more prayers than congresses, which have, until now, meant nothing in the absence of enabling and genuine dialogue. They mean Turkey is in dire need for divine intervention, the channel of which is prayer because even acquisition of the most sophisticated S-400 weapons has not secured a grain of peace for the country.
I am not an Imam. Nor can I claim to possess even the minutest qualification for the religious title. But, because the ‘difference’ between human beings (men and women) before Allah –Praise be to God – is ‘the same’, every person in his/her little location, should be able to at least somehow humbly play an Imam’s prayer role.
In my small Christian family unit, thousands of kilometres away from Turkey in Tanzania, we have a rotating evening tradition of playing the Imam’s prayer role. Our tradition, though, sort of puts the cart before the horse, going by the usual Muslim call for prayer (Adhana) practice.
After dinner we come together in a sitting area. We appoint a prayer leader of the day. Acting the Muezzin, the person calls us: “It’s now time for prayer”. We adjust our postures and prayer starts. The family Adhana thus comes after we have come together. It’s a cart before the horse! And our Muezzin doubles as Imam. But it works.
The bottom line of the special 2021 world prayer for Turkey is actually targeting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AKP Justice and Development Party. Why? The combination of or the link between the presidential and parliamentary institutions constitute the source of all the tribulations afflicting the Turkish people at home and elsewhere in the world.
Principally, there is nothing good like consistency in life. But of what use is this enviable human attribute or faculty if it is directed towards inhuman treatment of other people? What has been and, is still, happening in Turkey demands action crossing the sympathy into the empathy arena. That is exactly what is missing in the country today.
The leading prayer for Turkey (AKP and Erdogan better put) should target the end of abductions, in all their forms, being committed at home and across countries and continents. These operations which demand high calibrations, translate into mental torture for victims and their relatives. The victims thereafter undergo physical torture and other inhuman treatment, many times going beyond what words can express and bordering on indecency!
How a government can arrest its citizens within a country is understandable. A big question arises when abductions come on stage in the background of a set of good governance laws. What has gone missing? The biggest question is when such repression operations assume cross-border dimensions and are conducted with impunity.
It is this Turkey government impunity that needs the prayer. Local platforms have failed to restore security and peace. The same applies to regional and international options. In the meantime, abductions, in their different variations, continue, opening doors to other evils against humanity in Turkey.
Three months to the end of 2020, the Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST) issued an extensive 152-page report titled “Erdogan’s Long Arms: Abductions in Turkey and Abroad” on abductions conducted brutally by Turkish authorities, detailing 135 cases.
To welcome 2021, Turkey was still busy in the act with no sign of abating. When I was writing this piece, there was news arriving on my desk concerning teachers under the threat of being extradited from Ukraine. Why? Their ‘crime’ is being perceived as followers of Gulen.
The non-ending abductions and other congruent ill-treatment of the people at the hand of AKP and President Erdogan have a deeper root. On 21 July 2016, within a a week after the orchestrated coup attempt, Turkey announced its intention to derogate from the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights) in application of article 15 of the Convention. This set conducive environment for violation of all human rights at home and anywhere else.
It is against this environment that one would appreciate a move of the Greek Government. In good conscience, the Greek Court refused to extradite Turkish military officers to a country considered to face the threat of restoration of death penalty, where there is also evidence of degrading and inhuman treatment of political dissidents and, where there is no fair trial in the strict sense of the word.
At a Ramadhan fast break function (iftar), President Erdogan took chance to call on the people to “teach a lesson” to persons who had been released in the investigations into the Hizmet Movement. He specified that they should not escape punishment so easily, even if they were not criminals. That is definitely too much a stand to come from a Muslim leader during the holy fasting month of Ramadhan– punishing anybody even if not a criminal. What is a punishment?
For two decades running, the Turkish Commercial Capital of Istanbul, has, on every Saturday, been witnessing mothers walk the streets in search of information about the whereabouts of their abducted children or graves in lieu. Needless to say their pleas have not been heard. In Africa we say they are beating the drum under water.
This is how the world should understand the Turkish government intensity of targeting members of the Hizmet Movement and acts of torture committed against them. How can this sort of treatment which borders on hatred be turned around?
Many national, international, regional and bilateral options have been tried without success. Maybe this is the time to turn to the heavens, each from our humble locations and pray to the Almighty God to retune, fine tune or build new hearts and consciences altogether for the AKP parliamentarians and, in particular, President Erdogan. Abductions in Turkey must come to an end. For, along with hatred, they open doors to all forms of inhuman treatment of the people.