People have killed their fear of authority and the protests are growing

Fear NOTHING(…..) The protests that have now engulfed the country may have begun in Gezi Park in Taksim, heart of Istanbul. It was never just about trees, but accumulation of many incidents. With the world’s highest number of imprisoned journalists, thousands of political prisoners (trade unionists, politicians, activists, students, lawyers) Turkey has been turned into an open-air prison already. The Institutional checks and balances have been removed by current AKP government’s political manoeuvres, and their actions go uncontrolled. On top of this growing authoritarianism, most important reason for people to hit streets in support of Gezi resistance was the arrogant tone of Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Even on Sunday, when millions of people were joining demonstrations, he called the protestors “looters”. Throughout his tenure, his rhetoric has been no different. He has repeatedly called his political opponents “alchoholics, marginals, sniffers, bandits, infidels”. His mocking sarcasm has become his “thing” over time, even some of his closest colleagues accept that “he no longer listens to anyone”. Then, there is fear. This kind of thing is hard to report in a prominent newspaper. That is perhaps why international media have not reported that the fear of government and Prime Minister has been growing even among non-political people. You can easily hear your grocery shop man saying “I think my phone is tapped”. Mainstream media has not covered it, but we have read reports on social media about people being arrested for making jokes about the government. That is perhaps why for the past two days every wall in Taksim Square is full of curses against the Prime Minister. The public is enjoying the death of the “cruel father figure” with the most sexist curses I have ever seen in my life. And I have seen some. But there is a more important component to the protests. As a writer and a journalist I followed the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings. As I wrote at the time, the Arab people killed their fear and I saw how it transformed them from silent crowds to peoples who believe in themselves. This is what has been happening in the last six days in Turkey. Teenage girls standing in front of TOMAs, kids throwing tear gas capsules back to police, rich lawyers throwing stones at the cops, football fans rescuing rival fans from the police, ultra-nationalists struggling arm in arm with the Kurdish activists … these were all scenes I witnessed. Those who wanted to kill each other last week became, no exaggeration, comrades on the streets. People not only overcame their fear of authority but they also killed the fear of the “other”. One more important point: generation that has taken to the streets was born after 1980 military coup fiercely depoliticised the public. The general who led the 1980 coup once said: “We will create a generation without ideology”. So this generation was, until last week (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

3 Responses to People have killed their fear of authority and the protests are growing

  1. (…..) While Mr. Erdogan seems secure in his support from conservative citizens, there have been cracks in the Islamist-leaning media. Several columnists at the newspaper Zaman, which is linked to the powerful Islamic movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a cleric in exile in the United States, have been critical of Mr. Erdogan’s leadership style. And just after Mr. Erdogan’s flight left on Monday, Turkey’s president, Abdullah Gul, whose power is less than the prime minister’s, spoke to the country and offered a conciliatory tone. “Democracy, however, does not only mean elections,” he said. “There is nothing more natural than various ways of expression other than elections if there are different views, different situations, objections. Peaceful protests are surely part of that.” In a speech in 2011 after his Justice and Development Party won a third term, Mr. Erdogan, already facing accusations of arrogance, said: “We will try to be more humble. We never accepted pride and boastfulness, and will be more careful from now on. Modesty is our motto, and we’ll pay more attention and be on the solid ground of modesty. We will continue to be the servant, not the master of this nation.” Mr. Erdogan, however, has been seeking to gain even more power by changing the Constitution to establish a more powerful presidency, which he would run for next year. His idea has been described as an American-style presidential system, but Mr. Erdogan has said that would not be good enough, and has instead pushed for what he describes as a “Turkish-style” system. “The U.S. president cannot appoint an ambassador, he cannot even solely decide on the sale of a helicopter,” he said last year.

    Some analysts here say the pride that leads Mr. Erdogan to seek more power after a decade in leadership is likely to govern his response to the current upheaval. Yasin Aktay, a sociology professor who wrote a book on leadership called “Times of Charisma,” which includes an analysis of Mr. Erdogan’s tenure, said it was unlikely that Mr. Erdogan would back down, in part because of a belief that he has been central to Turkey’s ascendance. “He believes that people are being unfair to him after all he has done for Turkey — I.M.F. debts being paid, corruption being controlled. He is angry that he has been reduced to a tree slayer”.

  2. Professor Uziel Nogueira says:

    It is fascinating. If we change Erdogan for Cristina Kirchner we have the profile of the Argentinean president re elected with 54% of votes. Erdogan and Cristina Kirchner fit a new profile of political leaders being elected by vote. The longer they stay in power, the more authoritarian they become. Democracy is being threatened not by authoritarian regimes but by a subversion of democratic process.

  3. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is driving a wedge through his country. While one half reveres him as a savior, the other reviles him as a dictator. By continuing to condemn his opponents and ignore their demands, he is playing a dangerous game (…..) Many of those protesting on Taksim Square do not contest that Erdogan has accomplished good things. But they still want to be heard. “Many people voted for Erdogan because they initially viewed him as liberal,” says Direnc E., 35, who is about to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy. But now they are disappointed, he adds, especially people with university degrees and the owners of small and medium-sized businesses. Day after day, tens of thousands of demonstrators are taking to the streets. Every night, at about 9 p.m., residents slap and beat against walls, drum on pots and honk their car horns to show solidarity with the protesters. Until now, they felt like they had no political voice. But Erdogan has driven them together by ignoring their desires and responding to them harshly. Erdogan suggests that the protesters have been spurred on by the left-wing opposition. But a study by two researchers at the private Istanbul Bilgi University paints a completely different picture of them. The study finds that more than two-thirds of the protesters do not have ties to any political party; more than half have never participated in a mass demonstration; and nine out of 10 surveyed said that what had prompted them to demonstrate was Erdogan’s authoritarian style of governing, police violence and the curtailing of democratic rights. Nevertheless, opinion pollsters say that Erdogan would win if a new election were to be held. But they note that one probable reason for this is the desperate situation of the opposition.

    “The CHP can’t be allowed to take power,” says a 29-year-old Turkish-German woman on Taksim Square who has been exposed to tear gas in recent nights. She hopes that the protests will result in a new party or electoral alliance because, as she puts it: “With 50 percent, you can’t carry out a revolution”.


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