FeatureLetters

New Catastrophe in Turkey

An open letter from Zeynep Gambetti

Nancy Fraser just sent me this important open letter from Zeynep Gambetti on the escalating crisis in Turkey. J.G

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are going through very, very hard times all over the world. The rate of catastrophe is perhaps higher in Turkey, due to the State of Emergency that accelerates the already present state of exception. Today, police rounded up 15 Kurdish deputies, all of them senior politicians, in a post-midnight police raid. HDP leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ are among the detained. Internet has slowed down, social media is inaccessible throughout Turkey.

This is the last nail in the coffin for any hope of political and societal peace with the Kurds. These senior politicians are the last generation of Kurds willing to make peace with the Turkish establishment. I cannot refrain from adding that instead of burning down the Reichstag, Erdogan has chosen to use Emergency Law as a pretext to empty out the parliament. See this interview with Kurdish MP Ayla Akat.

For those of you who aren’t following the latest rights violations, here is an update of all that has happened in just one week:

On Saturday, Oct. 29, the government issued two new Emergency Law decrees. 15 media outlets (mainly Kurdish) were banned, more than 10.000 civil servants were expelled, among them 1267 academics. Among the expelled academics are renowned leftists, union members and peace petition signatories. The government also abolished the law that allowed academics to choose their own university presidents. Bogazici university is (alas) the only institution to stand up against this decree, issuing a statement on Tuesday against political control over universities. Gülay Barbarosoğlu, our actual president, was re-elected with 84% of all votes on July, but has not yet been officially nominated by Erdogan.

On Sunday, Oct. 30, police detained the co-mayors of Diyarbakir, the biggest Kurdish city in Turkey, on charges they aided militants, part of a government crackdown after more than a year of violence in the region. Trustees were appointed in their place.

On Monday, Oct. 31, police arrested 18 journalists, among them the editor-in-chief, of one of the leading opposition newspapers, Cumhuriyet. This marks the final blow on the Turkish public’s chances of obtaining reliable news on the situation in Turkey.

And today, Nov. 3, we are shaken by the arrest of the HDP deputies. The wave of arrests will not slow down, unfortunately, as arrest warrents have been issued for all 59 of HDP’s deputies.

So the NYT asks: can Turkey’s democracy survive President Erdogan? I’m afraid my answer is “no.”

We are moving closer to dictatorship than I would have ever dared imagine…

In despair, but also in solidarity, as always,
Zeynep

Jeffrey C. Goldfarb

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