Translated from Turkish by Translators For Justice
Press Release from The Psychiatric Association of Turkey: Warning to the Government
The protests and demonstrations that began when the trees at Taksim Gezi Park were cut down for building a shopping center and that spread over the whole country was a response to the state’s intervention to the preferences of the people on how to pursue their own lives, the efforts of the government to regulate the society’s life styles according to its own political beliefs, the destruction of the trees, rivers, hills, animals and all of the natural wealth of the whole country for the sake of “profit” and “investment,” and its cruelty towards its own public witnessed everywhere among Turkey from the east to the west practised by weapons, unmanned aerial vehicles, bombs, riot control vehicles and pepper gas.
In democracies, governments must bear in mind the well being of the whole public, not only the population who voted for and supports them.
Those who are in power cannot demand the obedience and compliance of the people; on the contrary, they are obliged to support people express their demands in democratic ways.
As the Psychiatric Association of Turkey, we tried to get involved with every negative turn of events that took place in the country in the last several years.
We were there in the village of Bilge, in Uludere, and in Reyhanlı. We tried to heal the wounds of the survivors and sufferers of trauma, we tried to help them be heard.
We tried to report the wounds that the violent neoliberal politics causes on human soul, and to expose how depression is an illness spreading over large populations and how this relates to living, working and sheltering conditions. We shared the grief of people whose rivers and villages were destroyed. We tried to show the wounds, the social exclusion and discrimination caused by the further impoverishment of the poor and the further enrichment of the rich.
We objected to obligations imposed on women to give birth to foetuses formed after rape, and the legal regulations of their most basic decisions on their bodies. We argued that the causes behind women getting killed every day on the streets of this country are not the mental disorders of men, that what is needed more than mental treatments is the actual establishment of equality among men and women by means of further education, safe working conditions, and improvements in social status of women, and defended the idea that it should be women themselves who take the decisions on their lives.
We protested against how the transformation in the health system caused patients to get treated not as “patients” but as “customers”, and how it caused people to get only as much medical treatment as their money.
We stated that the silence of arms was of priority but was not enough to establish peace, that we needed to face our history and come to terms with it, and that we need to work towards building a social memory. We tried to oppose civilian armament.
We stated that the consumption of alcoholic beverages by people in social life, which has been practiced in the whole world, in every land over centuries, cannot be considered as a mental disorder and addiction. We explained that the legal regulations about the prevention of the development of alcohol addiction was disproportionate to the rate of development of alcohol addiction in Turkey, that here too was a “disproportionate violence” being applied, that the restrictions of alcohol consumption in fields, on river banks, in picnics and at the seaside as it has been a part of our culture was not pertinent to alcohol use disorders. We stated that the so-called consideration of social mental health was being used as a cover for conservatism.
We repeatedly stressed that homosexuality which has existed in every land and society throughout the history of humankind is not a mental disorder or abnormal behaviour. Against every voice raised within the walls of the parliament that refuses to recognise homosexual people and considers them as sick, we made scientific expositions about how homosexuality was acknowledged just as healthy a condition as heterosexuality in the last 40 years by international and national medical organisations. We emphasized that what was damaging the mental health of homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals is discrimination against them and that governments are liable of making legal regulations to diminish this discrimination. We condemn the imposition of the rising conservative mentality by fake, inaccurate and expired scientific expositions (just as in the case of the use of alcoholic beverages), the disregard for homosexuals and the restrictions of the exercise of their most basic human rights.
As the psychiatrists of this country, to this day, we have tried to treat all of the abovementioned mental wounds and provide remedies for the injured. But now we are warning the government. Just like the incurable wounds in children’s mental health caused by the physical violence from their most beloved, the people most close to them, their parents; the scars of the war waged by the government, the very administrators of the people, against their own public will not heal. What is injured by the pepper gas rising from all cities of the country that causes people to lose their sight, to have heart attacks and to die, and by the water cannons that crush people’s bones into little pieces are not only bodies. Mental wounds sometimes have effects that transcend physical recovery and these might last for life. We, the psychiatrists, will not be able to; or rather will not heal these wounds.
GOVERMENTS, JUST LIKE US PSYCHIATRISTS, MUST ENDEAVOR TO HEAR THE DEMANDS AND UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEMS OF THE PEOPLE TO WHOM THEY HAVE MADE PROMISES TO RULE JUSTLY.
GOVERNMENTS CANNOT REPRESS GROWING OBJECTIONS WITH PEPPER GAS OR WATER CANNONS; THEY CANNOT LETHALLY ATTACK THEIR OWN CITIZENS!