“You lose a war when you resemble your enemy”

Translated from Turkish by translators for justice Source: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/koseyazisi/576003/Dusmanina_benzeyen_savasi_kaybeder.html

July 29th, 2016

Can Dündar

One more step and we could have fallen off the cliff. If the coup-plotters had won, they would’ve shut down the Parliament – which they had already bombed. Martial law would have been declared. Loyalist military commanders, university presidents, mayors and judges would have been appointed to key positions, according to the lists the coup-plotters had drafted, making a mockery of law. In the ensuing witch-hunt, resistance to the coup could have landed just about anyone in prison. They would have silenced any dissenting voices in the media by arresting journalists. Relations with Europe would have been suspended; the death penalty a real possibility and brute force and torture the order of the day. Those who died during the military intervention would have been hailed as heroes, and those who resisted buried in a “Cemetery of Traitors.” The name of the Bosphorus Bridge would have been changed into “Peace at Home Bridge” after the Kemalist motto, without seeking public consent.

Luckily they didn’t win. The government was alerted at the last minute, calling on citizens to protest on the streets. They chose to repress the coup with violence. And then? They wasted no time in declaring a State of Emergency, where they assumed all executive power through decrees, completely circumventing Parliament. A witch-hunt started under the guise of bringing the coup-plotters to account, sending disaffected officers, academics, civil administrators and judges to prison – all according to the lists they had drafted. In their place supporters of the regime have been appointed. Newspapers have been shut down, journalists detained. The TV showed people bearing the mark of physical torture. Those who died resisting the coup were considered martyrs, while slain members of the coup ended up in a “Cemetery of Traitors”. The President let it be known that he would ratify the death penalty if it were up to him. In turn the EU made it clear that it would mean the end of the accession talks. And the name of the Bosphorus Bridge was changed into “15 July Martyrs Bridge,” without asking the public’s opinion.

Admittedly, there is a caveat: on the one hand we have a government elected by popular vote and on the other, a gang trying to usurp power at gunpoint. The honourable thing for us to do is to categorically defend the elected against the putschists. But what if the elected party bypasses the Parliament, thus taking control of the judiciary, the media, the university and industry? Is this not a total disregard for the democracy that brought them to power? What if they seize this opportunity for an even more despotic regime? I invite those who now fill the squares rejoicing at the “feast of democracy” to stop and think for a moment whether this was really what they braved the tanks for. Can we blame those who didn’t take part in “the feast” because they foresaw this end? Do we have the right to criticize members of the Shiite religious minority; the Alevi, whose neighbourhoods were raided by government supporters after the coup, for not joining “the feast” when prompted by calls from mosques to do so? Should we let the signs of the approaching catastrophe be drowned out by slogans in favour of the death penalty, sung in unison, and Ottoman military marches blasting from car stereos?

Presented with the options of a) military rule or b) police state, my choice would be c) none of the above. If, in a rush not to be affiliated with the putschists, we turn a blind eye to such authoritarianism and lawlessness, together with the ongoing witch-hunt and preparations for reintroducing the death penalty, we would be burying democracy with our prayers. The antidote to a military coup has never been a civilian coup. The antidote to a military coup is an independent judiciary, free media and a functioning Parliament; a democracy where pluralism is upheld against autocracy, where common sense prevails over sentiments of antagonism and revenge, where bridges of dialogue tower over the gallows, and where bridges are named collectively. I conclude with a keen observation from Alija Izetbegović: “You lose a war not when you die, but when you resemble your enemy.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s