Monday, May 16, 2011

Center of destruction

In the words of a Turkish proverb, “A madman throws a stone into a well and it takes 40 wise men to pull it out.”

One can dismiss the latest Supreme Election Board (YSK) scandal with such a reference, but it would be foolish to do so. That a 16th largest economy in the world and key regional player has been wasting its energy in an endless debate on whether some of its citizens are eligible to run in elections must be explained in sharper terms than mere foolishness.

The YSK jeopardized an already vulnerable, “razor’s edge” social peace by nitpicking details from badly written laws in a “legally fundamentalist” manner and pushing already outraged Kurds onto the streets, only to backpedal from its position 48 hours later. Are its members responsible for the damage caused to the human lives and goods? They are. Yet, nobody is demanding full-scale accountability for this archaic action, simply because 11 members of the board, whose origins as high judges at the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State, cannot be held accountable because their decisions are final.

Why? Because the catastrophically written, pro-authoritarian, “control freak” Constitution of 1980 says so.

In such a milieu, it is easier for the common man to take it to the streets, or be angry at those who throw stones. Even intellectuals en masse miss the target and blame Kurds or react with surprise when there is violence. Still, despite many years of substantial reforms, understanding the rage of Palestinians and their violence is much easier than that of Kurds.

Condemning violence is a given; it is unacceptable. But why people resort to it must be understood properly.

Orhan Miroğlu, a Kurdish intellectual and columnist, drew our attention to some statistical data yesterday. He tells us that according to one survey, Kurds prefer books on psychology to anything else. No wonder, says Miroğlu (who barely escaped an assassination, while the respected Kurdish intellectual, Musa Anter, was “executed” in a dark street), that they do. If there were an international exam on loyalty to a country, despite everything done to cut the ties to it, Kurds would win by a large margin, he adds. When one remembers mass graves, burned villages, deportations, summary executions, torture, denial of identity and poverty, he is spot on.

Now, he is worried that the “end of the road” is near. Miroğlu sees an uninterrupted pattern in Ankara, with the YSK move as the latest example. The “inner state” is determined to keep the Kurdish will out of the democratic game, it is decided to harass the free Kurdish vote, and therefore prefers that people see “mountain warfare” as the only remaining means for expressing their voices.

Since decisions such as that of the YSK can only cause consequences of deep alienation and mistrust among a segment of the electorate, it cannot be explained by myopia; there is much more to it.

It is the ghost of tutelage, alive and well. It wants to decide for people who they are allowed to elect -- or not.

This should also be a new wakeup call for all those who objectively want to see where the heart of the matter is. That the ruling AK Party may have lost its pace or its compass for reforms, that it may have moved into the area of conformism, but the fact remains the same. The “old” Turkey, still in full denial of today’s world, unleashes all of its mechanisms to derail progress, and lead it to a domain where chaos may serve its archaic purposes.

This is the old versus the new. Every anomaly and folly (in appearance) these days proves only one point: Turkey can no longer move ahead with the current constitution, the unamended laws and dusty institutions of 1980. A militarist and despotic culture, which has kept Turkey in a cage and its citizens as poor cavies who attack each other whenever they are electrified, has become a huge stumbling block. Osman Can, a former rapporteur of the Constitutional Court, called the latest YSK scandal “the magnificent parade of anachronism.”

The destructive center against the democracy is now well-known and it is only civilian politics that is up to the task of burying it.


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