Every nation has a destination for the reach of which it adopts a vision. A problem arises when, during the implementation process, situations that can be likened to a wash-out in a military range exercise emerge. This is when the African indigenous knowledge observes “stepping on an insect” – a miserable failure to accomplish a mission despite all requirements being at ones full disposal.
Turkey, in 2021 “stepped on an insect” in almost every direction. What a pity? The Head of State, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, failed even to implement a palace bedroom vision. First Lady Emine Erdogan shuttled between New York, Geneva, Brussels, Strasbourg, Ankara, Istanbul, Mediterranean City resort of Antalya and Shusha in Azerbaijan. She was quoted as telling the Antalya First Ladies of other countries at a Diplomacy Forum in the middle of March that “while prejudices are getting stronger and racism is rising all over the world, we want to make the language of love prevail.”
A climate of peace was her message to 12 Heads of State, 43 foreign ministers, four former Heads of State, and more than 50 representatives of international organizations, intellectuals and academics. Three months later, during a visit to Azerbaijan, she meets First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva at Shusha and delivers almost the same kind of message.
During the last week of June, 2021, Miguel Angel Moratinos, high representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations had to say: “People have to rediscover their humanity which includes values, culture, religion… that make us be human beings…” He recalled the Turkey of 2005, under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, steering a permanent engagement with the alliance.
Here is the same man who had “stepped on an insect”, emerging with a world shocker “to withdraw from a convention negotiated in Turkey “to prevent and prosecute domestic violence and promote equality.” Camnan Gullu, President of the Federation of Turkish Women’s Association, said the decision translated into “Turkey shooting itself in the foot…”
Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard said the decision “set the clock back ten years on women’s rights and set a terrifying precedent.” She expressed the withdrawal as “sending a reckless and dangerous message to perpetrators who abuse, maim and kill that they can carry on doing so with impunity…”
Attempts were made to annul the Presidential decision through the court. But, under the officially paralyzed Turkish system, the court had to say Erdogan had the “authority”. And that was it.
A letter from the Council of the Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mitatovic, to Turkish interior and justice ministers expressed “concern about the rise in homophobic narratives by some officials, some of which target the Convention.” All the measures provided for by the Istanbul Convention reinforce family foundations and links by preventing and combating the main causes of destruction of families; that is violence, she said. What Turkey has done during the year in the destruction of families is dealt with in my first article.
The Diyarbakır Bar Association, in its annual report has revealed that rights violations increased in 2021 and that prison conditions had worsened, stating that as of November 30, 295,754 people were in prison, 1,977 of them minors. According to the report, mistreatment increased in prisons, but claims of mistreatment were not investigated and the perpetrators were often not held accountable.
Lawyer Diyar Çetedir, from the bar, said Turkish prisons had become centers for torture and mistreatment, where inmates were subject to humiliating and degrading practices. In some cases inmates who wanted to obtain a hospital report documenting injuries sustained during mistreatment or torture were prevented from doing so by prison authorities. Prison doctors were also reluctant to issue reports confirming mistreatment. Minors were not spared as they were subjected to physical violence by both prison guards and other inmates. Administrators were found to be ineffective in preventing conflicts among their prison populations.
From the COVID-19 pandemic elevation, those inmates who did not have money to pay were not given cleaning products or face masks. Moreover, quarantine cells continued to be filthy, damp and poorly maintained. Over the year, a number of sick inmates had died in prison because they were not released to seek proper treatment. Prisoners were not released until they were at the point of no return. Authorities refuse to free them on the grounds that they pose a potential danger to society. Which society?
World governments and their leaders will tell you they are vigorously pursuing the democracy path. But ask them the rules of the game in use –how they relate to issues like transparency and corruption — you will get a shock. A dipstick into the democracy rules sump of Turkey almost reflects a picture of the ‘homeland’ of contradictions. Forget all about Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, and even discourses of Said Nursi and writings of Fethullah Gulen (if it doesn’t offend you). In the words of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, democracy is “a tram (car) that you get off when you come to the destination.”
Reasoning between the Erdogan lines, democracy is not a definite, physical destination or location. It is something like an optional and imaginary political life stage. This means destinations could be as many as the passengers aboard the “m.v. Democracy” craft. The journey ends at the destination of a traveler rather than the destination (goal) of the route.
After securing about 50% of the electorate, Erdogan felt he could “get off the tram” because “he had got to his destination”. His destination didn’t have to be that of his state or people. Everything – state and people– have to also disembark. Typical of all dictators since the days of the Roman Emperors’ Roma locuta causa finita (procedurally, the word of Rome is final). Erdogan is everything in Turkey. He is off the track fully engulfed in his one-man rule vision, which is “stepping on an insect”.
Socrates quipped: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light”. Working in a paralyzed system, Turkey has come this far. In the year 2021 the world came to learn that the so much proclaimed 15-July 2016 attempted coup was actually “a planned to fail” event. So, where does the Muslim cleric in self-exile in the U.S. Fethullah Gulen, come in?
What a big and terrible lie the world has discovered in 2021 about the 2016 coup that was. Yet Turkey rulers still find justification for groundless untold maltreatment that has been going on in the country until today. Giving false testimony against anybody (persecuting that person let alone) is not the way of keeping on the right track. It constitutes breaking one of the God’s Ten Commandments for which one will have to account in the Hereafter. Turkey rulers don’t have the slightest fear (respect?) of the All-Justice. They are off the track.
As the country comes closer to the countdown to the 2023 parliamentary and presidential elections, the moment of truth is dawning. As of now, the Turks’ confidence in their leaders and their policies has declined in 2021. More than 75 percent of Turks have said their confidence in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s economic policies has decreased over the last year, according to a recent survey conducted by the Ankara-based MetroPoll.
Titled “Turkey’s Pulse – December 2021,” the results reveal that in the past year 75.8% of respondents said it had decreased and only 8.6% said it had increased, while 13.8 said their confidence in the policies hasn’t changed and 1.8 percent said they had no idea or didn’t respond.
Not only opposition voters but also the majority of government voters have lost their confidence in the economic policies of the government, with the poll showing that the confidence in economic policies of 36.4% of AKP voters had decreased in 2021. The survey revealed that 50.7 percent of voters for the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an election ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP, also said their confidence in the government’s economic policies had decreased. The same applies to voters of the Islamist Felicity Party (SP), the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and the nationalist İYİ (Good) Party.
Even 79.8% of the traditionally undecided voters stated that their confidence in the AKP’s economic policies had declined in 2021. From the horse’s mouth, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) has also revealed that the country’s economic confidence index tumbled 1.8% month-on-month in December to 97.6 points. This is the lowest figure since May. The story is confirmed by the lira becoming the worst performer in emerging markets in 2021, losing 44% of its value against the U.S. currency over the year.
A sort of random end-of-the-year round up of events in Turkey could help cap the country’s year 2021. The Ankara court ordered the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, to pay damages to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan due to his remarks calling the president a “pharaoh” and a “thief,” and accusing him of siphoning money from the treasury and serving the interest of usurers. Erdogan’s lawyer claimed that Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks exceeded the limits of free speech and damaged the honor and dignity of his client.
In August 2021 Erdoğan Bayraktar, one of the ministers implicated in the 2013 corruption investigation, the probe whose results have turned turkey around, said the evidence against him was genuine and not doctored as alleged by the ruling party.
An indictment has been prepared by the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office against 103 retired admirals and sent to the 20th High Criminal Court demanding up to 12 years in prison in the famed “Montreux declaration case”. Is Turkey ready to imprison 103 retired admirals? Why? What does a configuration of the above three elements hold for a country looking forward to go into free, fair and democratic polls? Hasn’t Turkey “stepped on an insect?” And what’s next?