“Everything or Nothing, All of Us or None”
Nick Fury said with an impressive voice, walking around a large desk of command and control “There was an idea; Stark (the Iron Man) knows this, called the Avengers Initiative.
The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more. See if they could work together when we needed them to fight the battles we never could.”
Nick Fury’s quote definitely explains the Avengers Initiative idea. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) is an American superhero movie about a superhero team coming together to form the Avengers to stop Thor’s adoptive brother Loki from enslaving the human race.
Turkey had experienced such an initiative in Gezi Park protest that started on May 27, 2013 with a group of environmental activists occupying Taksim Gezi Park to preserve one of the few green spaces left in Istanbul included in a demolition urban development project. Gezi protests harbored a massive potential for social and political transformation over the polarization caused by conflict history, and also enhanced public perception of political conflict by sweeping away the classical divisions of left – right and secular-Islamist confrontations. Highlighting a variety of environmental, social, and economic justice concerns, it was also a grassroots movement that mobilized various groups without direct political party and fractional initiation.
You can see a young girl waving Turkish flag (with Atatürk picture) in the very well-known photograph by Uğur Can, also, a young man from the pro-Kurdish party and a lady making the Turkish nationalist’s specific hand signal when the police were water cannoning. What I offer is not to draw attention to the protest or propose to get back on the streets, but to emphasize the unity once achieved among various groups. The question is, “Can we bring a group of remarkable people together again, see if they can become more?” As we all know the opposition groups are not homogeneous; some follow the love of homeland, their republic, and deep love for the founding leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his revolutions, while some prioritize all kinds of ethnic and religious rights, and some merely seek an independent, democratic, secular state ; or different combinations of all. Can we mobilize those diverse groups for the same cause?
“All we can do is our best, and sometimes the best we can do is start over”
The May 6 decision of Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) will be referred as the date in which trust over elections ended, rule of law diminished, and more importantly, collapse of Turkish democracy was recorded. We do not know the reason for the decision of the YSK to rerun the elections in Istanbul, except for the self-proclaimed discourse which is tried to be imposed by the AKP (Justice and Development Party). In accordance with May 6, 2019 decision of YSK; it was indicated that the Board’s judges had accepted the allegations of some polling station officials were not appointed as stated in Turkish election law, among public officials. However, Turkish voters had voted for four different items in local elections (Provincial Mayor, District Mayor, Municipal Assembly, Mukhtar), only Istanbul’s Metropolitan Mayorship was cancelled and concluded for a rerun on the above allegations. The same polling officers, all four items in one envelope but only one cancellation: multiple-choice unlawfulness.
As a result, re-election for the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul will take place on June 23. While the opposition is right, legitimate and mistreated, the candidate of the government has a whole state apparatus and budget behind. The cancellation request of the governmental party without any concrete justification also shows how desperately they want Istanbul. We can be sure that they will try every maneuver in this context. Although the opposition and Imamoglu’s team managed the election night very well, they have to absorb the feeling of victory and move forward to make it all fine as they say in their slogans. The path is not an easy one, obviously. The only issue we are sure of after razor-thin win is that the winner will be anyone who succeeds in overcoming their fears and embracing all fractions. Patient, positive, determining candidate will be named as the mayor. If the opposition agrees that there is no savior, it can rebuild the collapsed Turkish democracy and prevent the decision of May 6 from becoming the start of the end.
“Heroes are made by the path they choose, not the powers they are graced with”
The process, which began on May 6, is a difficult long-term path and involves much more than local elections and/or their results. The aim should be to establish the Turkish democracy and state institutions that were demolished by YSK’s aforementioned decision, in a better format. The opposition blocs’ test will be whether or not they will come together and join forces for the greater good through the political parties representing them, the opposition fractions should be able to meet on the common ground so that the said goal can be achieved. It will be easier to walk along the path if the aforementioned common ground is taken as a value rather than a common leader. This ground can be pluralism. It is inevitable that leaders emerge in an environment of free thought and pluralism. Obviously, self-proclaimed leadership or putting themselves forward as an alternative does not work to be publicly recognized as one; and at present, the best examples of leaders after the last elections are Ekrem Imamoğlu (opposition mayoral candidate for Istanbul) and Selahattin Demirtaş(former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish HDP party). From this perspective, if we analyze the 2 new party claimed to be established in the right wing, it is unlikely that Ahmet Davutoğlu (allegedly the leader of one of these movements), who represents himself in the Turkish political arena, will succeed with all the burdens he carries as a result of his previous experiences as Turkey’s former prime minister. If we evaluate former President Abdullah Gül’s position, we can clearly say that his whiny approach makes him highly unlikeable in opposition groups. In many respects, however, the former Economy Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, who is allegedly involved in Gül’s team, is considered positive. His distance from everyday arguments and politics, his focus on economics alone, and his credibility among international circles can be seen as an advantage for a new right / center political movement. Moreover, it is essential for the pro-Kurdish party HDP to make an accurate decision on its position in this alliance; and, of course, other opposition groups should also clearly demonstrate their relationship with the HDP.
Moreover, ordinary citizens should also contribute to the restoration of democracy, because in many areas it is necessary to stop corruption and produce development models, from law to education, science to sports, art and media. I mean, first of all, everyone has to do their best in their field of expertise, then involvement in civil society is a must; this may be local or national, but it is imperative that we contribute to the system that is to be formed, within our knowledge. It is not just a task for leaders to rebuild the system; it is, on the contrary, a process that everyone should contribute. Therefore, we need to get out of the comfort zone / thought that give us the luxury of thinking someone should be in control, there is someone to praise or blame, or someone to analyze and implement on our behalf.
All of us or none
As a result, we don’t live in a way out of the world and we have very serious and huge problems that we need to address and solve; like S400, tension in the eastern Mediterranean, Syria, etc. And besides, we have to keep up with being optimistic after YSK’s wrong and biased decision, even if it’s pretty hard, and succeed in avoiding the dark scenarios. We have to embrace each other and rebuild the country we dream of with anyone who believes in democracy, the rule of law, pluralism, peace, justice, freedom and fair sharing.
Let Bertolt Brecht speak for a better future, for a better country:
Who, oh wretched one, shall dare it?
He who can no longer bear it.
Counts the blows that arm his spirit.
Taught the time by need and sorrow,
Strikes today and not tomorrow.
Everything or nothing. All of us or none.
One alone his lot can’t better.
Either gun or fetter.
Everything or nothing. All of us or none.
Other highlights from past week
US Statement of Turkish drilling operations in Eastern Mediterranean
“The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone. This step is highly provocative and risks raising tensions in the region. We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint,” declared the US State Department on May 5, 2019.
Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on May 6 as an answer to US State Department saying “The press statement of the US Department of State dated 5 May 2019 concerning Turkey’s drilling activities in its own continental shelf is unrealistic” Turkish MFA stressed that Turkey had made its position explicitly clear regarding its continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean since 2004 and added “Since then, we have brought to the attention of the relevant countries and the international community that the Greek Cypriot Administration’s EEZ delimitation agreements with the countries in the region are not valid for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots and one of these agreements violates Turkey’s continental shelf rights. Similarly, Turkey has announced to the international community and registered with the UN its continental shelf in the region. Delimitation agreements based on equitable principles in accordance with the international law have not yet been concluded among all relevant coastal states in the region”
“The rights of Turkey and the rights of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean are unquestionable,” said President Erdoğan at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council and NATO Mediterranean Dialog partners on Monday and added “Turkey is determined to protect those rights.”
Former President and former PM against rerun decision in Istanbul
“How I felt about the unjust ‘ 367 decision ‘ of the Constitutional Court in 2007 is the same as when I heard another court’s decision, the Turkish High Election Board. Shame, we were not even able to make some progress,” tweeted Abdullah Gül on May 7, 2019.
“Fair and rules-based elections are a reference point for both democracy and our common consciousness. However, the decision of the election board contradicts the universal rule of law and established practices and harms this awareness, “tweeted on May 7, 2019, former PM Davutoğlu.
Turkish Lira weakens after rerun decision
“Turkish financial markets tumbled on Tuesday after the elections board ruled to scrap and re-run Istanbul elections, with the lira down 1.3 percent to its weakest level since last year’s currency crisis was waning in October. The Turkish lira stood at 6.1600 against the dollar at 1011 GMT, from 6.0829 on Monday, having earlier hit its weakest level since Oct. 5. As investors questioned Turkey’s commitment to both the rule of law and economic reforms during a recession, bonds and stocks were also sold off,” Reuters reported on May 7, 2019.
Öcalan to meet his lawyers
For the first time since 2011, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan met his lawyers last week. “This is the first meeting since 2011 with the lawyers. The meeting lasted about an hour,” one of his lawyers said at a press conference on May 2 in Istanbul.
Newroz Uysal, another lawyer of Ocalan, read out a message for the hunger strikers from the imprisoned terrorist leader to limit their protests. “We respect our friends ‘ resistance inside and outside prisons, but we want them not to take it to a dimension that threatens their health or leads to death,” said Ocalan.
Ocalan’s message also addressed neighboring Syria’s situation. “We believe that it is necessary to solve problems in Syria by avoiding the culture of conflict,” said Ocalan according to the lawyer. He said the Syrian Kurds should have constitutional guarantees while respecting the integrity of Syria. “The sensitivities of Turkey should be taken into consideration in this regard,” he added.