Istanbul / LGBT / Police / Politics / Religion / Turkey & Turkish

Turkey Troubles

Our former foster home is covered in a veil of tear gas. What began as a peaceful campaign against the destruction of a city centre park to make way for yet another shopping centre has spread to a wider national protest against the creeping authoritarianism of the current Turkish Government led by the charmless bruiser Erdoğan. Watch out, my Turkish friends, he’s not exactly noted for his listening skills. Is the ruling AK Party determined to implement Islamism by stealth? I don’t know. But telling women how many babies to have, branding all drinkers as alcoholics and demanding that the Dutch Government removes a baby from a lesbian couple (because “homosexuality is contrary to the culture of Islam.”) isn’t liberalism either. Erdoğan is the most popular leader in recent Turkish history, freely elected. Democracy may be a flawed political system but it’s probably the best we have. A word of warning, though. Be careful who you vote for. It might not be quite what you had in mind. This image says it all:

Image courtesy of Occupy Gezi on Facebook.

Image courtesy of Occupy Gezi on Facebook.

32 thoughts on “Turkey Troubles

  1. remember, Jack – the police have behaved like this under every previous government of whatever shade – violence and contempt for their fellow Turks (and foreigners who get in their way) is endemic and institutionalised. The opposition is fragmented and as politically corrupt as the ruling party – the difference is that, until now, the AKP has known what it wanted, the opposition only knows what it does’t want. Tayyip has become deeply disliked by many in the party and supporters – he may go but the AKP government will not – short of an intervention, not by any generals but by the colonels.

    • Yep, I know. Military intervention isn’t the answer, political regrouping is. And the CHP, in particular, needs to modernise, stop this silly opposition to Kurdish autonomy, get themselves a better leader and sell themselves to the young and the disenchanted. Personally, I’m rather like the small but enlightened Liberal Party. Right up my alley.

  2. When a party gets such a massive majority as the AKP did in the previous election the opposition will always be too weak to stop the creep of authoritarian government (ask Mrs Thatcher).
    AND if Erdogan goes …… who is waiting in the wings??

  3. May the force be with us. Not sure if Erdoğan is an alien or not ? just waiting for me to be locked up for that….. maybe sent to Mars. I have no idea before they come and get my husband, there is no stopping him now he is writing furiously, mostly “I told you so” I think.

      • ‘Being careful’ is an interesting concept. I think any of us writing anything on the net, could be looked on as not being ‘careful’. So I hope we are all OK at the end of this. Time will tell.

      • I think the authorities’ monitoring of the internet is so inefficient that you’ll be fine, particularly if written in English.

      • Last night a few of us posted a video on FB of a protestor stating the facts in a calm way. Today the video has disappeared off all our walls. Not just the video but the whole post!!!

      • Yes worrying :( I have no idea if FB is aware. I never get a response from them when i’ve tried to contact them in the past.

  4. You know that feeling when your head’s all over the place…? Yeah, bet you do. :) We’re in ‘smile in the face of adversity’ mode at the mo. Could also be tears at any split second. :) Bless this country.

  5. I remember you talking about the government’s interference in Internet discussions etc. and thought that rather ominous. It’s one thing to be popular and democratically elected… (so was Hitler). But I know nothing about Turkish politics and as the others have commented, the alternative might be worse?

    • Part of the problem is success at the ballot box has gone to their heads. The Government has a shallow understanding of what democracy really means.

  6. Hi Jack,
    It’s not -only- a problem of the current govt. It’s the system.
    Somebody tweeted “The west of the Turkey has just been introduced to Turkish state”
    This republic was formed on fasistic fundementals, and its tradition is to supress. Religious and Kurds had their share. It’s the first time “white Turks” and realising this.

    I hope this become an opportunity for empathy and understanding each other, not more polarization.

    • It’s an interesting tweet and I tend to agree with the sentiment. I can only hope that now the urban elite have felt the heavy hand of oppression things will change for every citizen.

  7. Jack, have you noticed what a lot of very cheap deals there are to Turkey now? I’ve just booked an 8-day “cultural tour” along the Lycian coast (through http://www.rsd-travel.co.uk) next winter for £220 each (taking the boyfriend): that’s flight, tour and B&B in a series of 4* hotels. On Breakfast TV the other day they mentioned beach holidays for as little as £119 a week this summer. Turkey’s political problems will not be helped by tourists staying away out of nervousness. As long as tourists do not attempt to watch any demonstrations that may occur, Turkey is surely as safe as anywhere else – even safer (robberies are worryingly common on the Costas of Spain). I was in Tunisia last winter, and it was sad to see so few visitors to a country that is very tourist-friendly and has many attractions (including the locals!). Support the economies of these countries. Not every barrier will come down as fast as the Berlin Wall, but “invading” tourists can help the democratising process along just by being there and spending money.

    • It’ll get worse before it gets better. I certainly urge people not to cancel their holidays or put off their plans. The last thing ordinary people in Turkey need right now is the financial hardship that this would cause. Many Turks only have a short window (between April and September) to make enough money to keep them going all year and many work in small family-run businesses that would be hardest hit. Turkey is safe and (as you quite rightly say) safer than many other popular destinations, despite the localised protests in the main cities. Boycotting the country would make not the slightest bit of difference to the suits in Ankara and Istanbul. They’ll do what they want whatever happens. You’ve bagged yourself a bargain. The Lycian coast is our favourite part of Turkey. You’ll have a fabulous time, I’m sure.

  8. Pingback: 2013 in Review | perkingthepansies

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