by Nilgun Yerli 11 June 2013
İn Turkey it is for young and old a time to discuss. To listen to each other to express words without blame, without threats, without burning fingers.
While I was living in Turkey at the age of 8 there was a fight between left and right ideologies. One day on my way to school in Ankara a large group of militant boys pulled me to one side and said are you for ‘Left’ or ‘Right’ I had no idea at that age what they were talking about. While crying with fear I said ‘I’m for Besiktas’ to which they smiled and said ‘Oh!! She’s one of us!’ and let me go.
The Journalist ‘Abdi İpekci’ was murdered, writers were imprisoned, everyone had a fear to express their true ideas and thoughts.
At home we had huge posters of the peoples ‘CHP’ everywhere. My father gave me a large framed portrait of ‘Ecevit’. The poster was bigger than me and he took a picture of me with Ecevit.
Thanks to ‘Ataturk’ you will always enjoy freedom as a woman and now thanks to ‘Ecevit’ I said ‘But Dad!’ he said ‘No if’s and But’s You will understand what I mean when you grow up.’
As a little girl I had no idea what my father was talking about . He continued ’Never forget we are the children of ‘Ataturk’ we are democrats and socialists. We are for justice.’ Big words for such a little girl of eight like me.
As time passed I grew and the more I grew the bigger the words became. One day I became a member of the AKP party of Prime Minister Erdogan. The day I joined my Uncle phoned me and said ‘Your father must be turning in his grave you should be ashamed of yourself’ . My sister did not speak to me she said how can you ‘ We have democratic blood running in our veins’. I was in an identity crisis. What was it that I had done so wrong? I did not understand.
Reason why I became a member?
After living for 30 years in the Netherlands I was fed up with we and them. The locals and the foreigners. When I arrived in Turkey I realized that there was a much bigger game of we and them being played . Much bigger than what I experienced in the Netherlands. I had left Turkey in 1980’s in a game of Left versus Right and now arrived back in 2006 in a game of ‘Miniskirts’ versus the ‘Headscarf’. Liberals versus Conservatives. Both groups were afraid of each other. The people were afraid of their own religion. Afraid of abuse of religion, afraid of the integration of religion in the legal system. Religious faith is personal it should never be used to rule. But fear on both sides grew into discrimination and rage as each side did not want to understand or tolerate the other.
Turks against Turks.!
I wanted to know what the others were. I joined the AKP party and remained a member for three months. I saw and heard many things which made me very happy but also some things troubled me. Every one in the party had their own agenda. There were many democrats and liberals in the party, but also radicals, fundamentalists, opportunists and also idealists. It was a mosaic of the country. I came saw and I left the party. Politics is not for me. I missed my stage my theater my public, I missed The Netherlands therefore I returned.
Here I am seven years later .In Turkey it is time to argue with the young and old. To listen to each other to express words without blame, without threats, without burning fingers. Turkey has never learned to Debate. Everything your Father said, the teacher said, the imam said, the Minister said, the President said had to be accepted you could not argue against it. It was not respectful it was culturally not accepted. To achieve a true democracy humanity might need clashes. I also know of no revolution without sound. But one should not confuse facts with fears.
Turkey is not a totalitarian regime. The prime minister was elected with well over a %50 vote of the electorate. That means one out of very voting Turk voted for him. What is happening in Turkey is therefore difficult to understand. Usually bad economics leads to a poverty stricken discontent populations. But prosperity and freedom have never been at these heights. The country has never performed economically so well.
The new social media had a domino effect , everybody suddenly expressed their own opinions which escalated from action to a nuclear reaction. It is good to express and share but in the new social media system there is no room for argument . You are either for something or against it. You either hate or Love. Digital system is either 1 or 0. (1)Yes I think Prime Minister Erdogan has done a lot for the Turkish economy which is prospering .(0) No I don’t agree with all his statements and way of handling things. But Life and my opinions are not a court of justice!
It’s a shaky period for Turkey and Prime Minister Erdogan is put to the test. Is he really a democrat or is he using democracy as a tool to achieve his goals? I am not an Erdogan specialist I am not an AKP specialist. I am no longer a member of the AKP management and I am certainly no Turkey specialist. But I am a specialist in expression , empathy, love and understanding the differences between people. And I am still a little girl with many experiences but not always understanding or knowing everything .
Prime Minister Erdogan both the strength and weakness of his own party and therefore Turkey. The opposition is very weak and not powerful enough to stand up and speak on behalf of the people. The people see that and maybe that is the reason why they took the matter into their own hands to speak out..