We must tear down Erdoğan's throne together through a domino-effect
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has a long-standing habit of targeting Kurds and opposition circles to fortify its hold on power.
After years of slowly chipping away at the opposition, forcing more people to take cover, the AKP is once again targeting the Kurdish political movement and other opposition groups.
The difference this time around is that these intimidation operations now include the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
The world is spinning so fast right now, with developments rushing past in Turkey and around the globe, that it is difficult to follow everything from the limited opportunities one has in a prison cell. Politics had slowed down a little as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, but the world sped back up again as a revolt against centuries of discrimination in the United States spread through other countries.
We as Kurds believe it to be our duty to stand by these peoples engaged in a legitimate fight against discrimination, as we ourselves have suffered through massacres and genocides over the centuries. We understand.
As the pandemic was settling in Turkey, a wave of operations against the CHP began, focusing on the party’s base. Officials in district and provincial branches have been taken to court, while some members have been detained and even arrested.
These arrests are a way to gauge the opposition’s reaction. These reactions will result in pressure from the top down, and the same will apply to not just the CHP, but former AKP heavyweights Ali Babacan and Ahmet Davutoğlu’s respective breakaway parties DEVA and Future Party as well.
As it stands, those who hold the power do not want a single dissenter facing them.
This is better understood as one looks at the laws passed during the pandemic. We are not dealing with the AKP’s alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) anymore. Or with an AKP government. What we are faced with is a regime that belongs to one man. At this point, we are looking at President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his personal power.
The first steps towards institutionalising one-man rule were taken in 2016, in the wake of a failed coup attempt on July 15, when the Kurdish political movement, workers’ unions and other opposition groups were targeted under the umbrella excuse of “FETÖ”, the name Turkey uses for the followers of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen who the government considers to have masterminded the coup. Thousands of our members, city councillors, co-mayors, deputies, even our co-chairs and some of our voters were arrested at the time.
Erdoğan achieved this power and entrenched his rule with silence and approval from the opposition, turning the coup attempt to his advantage.
Now, as if in a slumber, Turkish politicians are also standing by as the AKP has further deepened one-man rule during the pandemic, responding to those who spoke out about the worsening economic crisis with threats and arrests. The pandemic was, like the coup in 2016, a “blessing from Allah” for the AKP.
The AKP has newly-emboldened watchmen that act like a police force without the same training or oversight, attacking citizens everywhere, targeting children and the elderly alike, sometimes in their front yards, for alleged noncompliance with pandemic measures. This was to intimidate the people.
At such a moment in history, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) issued what we called a “Document of Attitude” on June 1.
This document was one of the reasons for the government-controlled media’s increased targeting of both the HDP and other opposition groups this month. Meanwhile, discussions on the HDP continued in Turkey, with no participation asked of the party, and even actively excluding it from the table. Calls to shut the party down have also been popular.
The nine points cited in this document are: justice; a democratic constitution; democracy based on strong local governments and a parliamentary system; a democratic solution to the Kurdish issue; an end to wars and a conflict-focused foreign policy; jobs and livelihood for all; women’s rights; youth rights; and protecting nature for an eco-democratic society.
The HDP will also hold a “March for Democracy against the Coup” between June 15 to 20, to protest the revocation of two HDP deputies’ parliamentary status, as well as one CHP deputy.
But this document is about more than an announcement of a march. What the government-controlled media is trying to create tension and provoke people over is not just a march, it is an attempt to clutter the paths the HDP clears up towards a breath of fresh air for Turkey.
None of these nine points are new. Our co-chairs have spoken of them, our party programme includes them as a framework, and now we have reiterated our desire to get out onto the streets again to make them a part of life.
Cue another wave of attacks and threats. Because some don’t want this document to come to life. Their screams in fear are because this document favours the peoples of Turkey, because it will end the one-man regime.
The HDP is calling on all opposition groups, all peoples and all the marginalised groups with this document. To crown democracy, and to find a way out of the economic depression. A call to live together, all of us. A call to gather together all those who are on the side of labour and freedom.
Yet, it has not received the necessary response from the opposition, namely the CHP.
CHP’s leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is looking to justify his party’s rejection of the march, by saying conditions are not the same as when he himself held a “March for Justice” in 2017, to protest one-man power over Turkey’s judiciary. Yes, conditions are not the same today. Back then, the one-man regime had not fully institutionalised, there were still dissident voices, albeit weak, but with the CHP’s silence, now one-man rule has become entrenched.
This government has terrorised the HDP since 2016, and has demonised it to stop other opposition groups from planning joint actions. The CHP is the one who falls hardest for this ploy.
As the country is trapped in a spiral of fear and the people are pushed to despair, a silent opposition wants to hand the people over to the one-man regime.
The CHP’s position is that of the boiling frog. Unaware that it is being cooked, the CHP thinks there would be a way out of this process if they call for snap elections.
It is clear that the government is working to change the election laws. But the CHP is prepared to knowingly agree. Fraudulent practices in recent elections are there for all to see, and there is nothing to be gained from waiting for the elections or calling for them while the people grapple with a deep economic depression - at a time like this, these calls are not realistic. They serve as tactics to keep the people in limbo.
We will not be the boiling frog. We will be tiny domino tiles. One of us will drag another behind us, and a thousand of us will tear down the throne of the government. It takes one touch for well-laid tiles.
The HDP could achieve this with street-level efforts following the "Document of Attitude". All our issues, all that we lack in democracy, freedom, justice, the Kurdish issue, women’s rights, youth issues, economic concerns, and ecology - each constitute our dominoes. These are the problems of the people that beg solutions, which are present in our document.
As others fail to produce alternatives among their calls to abandon the struggle, the HDP has announced to all peoples of Turkey through the “Document of Attitude” that it will not withdraw from any democratic fronts. On the contrary, it will grow the struggle further with greater resolve.
It is time to go out and put theory and practice together.
It is time to herald victory for the peoples.