Yusuf Kanlı

The bulb and the lighthouse

3 Haziran 2009
It is no secret that the ruling AKP government hates to hear anything about the "Turkish leg" of the Lighthouse Islamist charity organization case that the German judiciary described as the worst fraud case of that country’s recent history. The AKP government’s over-obsession about the Lighthouse sham produced an unprecedented rate of use of government power to silence the media outlets that insisted to report on the siphoning of charity donations by Turks in Germany, Austria and some other European countries by some leading Islamist figures to advance the cause of political Islam in Turkey. The pressures and actions taken against the Doğan Media Group, or the DYH, or the vendetta launched by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against the DYH and Doğan Holding Chairman Aydın Doğan testifies not only to the power-obsession but also the AKP government’s belief that criticism or factual reporting that did not serve its interests is not within the scope of freedom of the press.

Months have passed since the first dossier was sent by the German judiciary to Turkey. How interesting is that it took almost half a year for the translators of the Turkish Justice Ministry to translate the dossier into Turkish. Then Germany sent a second dossier, this time in Turkish. The Turkish Justice Ministry under the AKP rule was so dedicated to justice that the minister first disclosed that the dossier sent to Turkey would be translated into Turkish. Then, when it became clear that the dossier was translated into Turkish by the Germans into Turkish before it was sent to Turkey, the justice minister said it would soon be processed, but there was a second document that needed to be translated into Turkish. It became clear some time later that the second document the justice minister referred to was a judicial collaboration request by Germany and a request for the interrogation of some "leading Turks" in connection with the Lighthouse sham.

Still, even yesterday Turkey had not yet launched an investigation into the Turkish leg of the Lighthouse Islamist charity fund. The ongoing street theater between Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and chairperson Zahid Akman of the Supreme Board of Radio and Television, or RTÜK, over whether Arınç demanded the resignation of Akman, who is alleged to have been involved in some degree in the Turkish leg of the Lighthouse fraud, or whether Akman indeed continued to enjoy the "firm support" of the prime minister and thus would not step down was yet another tragicomic aspect of the controversy.

For many months, on the other hand, there have been speculation that the AKP was so sensitive on the Lighthouse case because there might be some documents in the dossier that might lead to the closure of the ruling party, which narrowly escaped closure last year.

Indeed, some time ago, there were speculations in the Turkish capital that the AKP was aware of the possibility of a yet another closure case coming against it and that was why it was so eager to make some amendments in the Constitution and introduce the so-called Venice criteria that would prohibit closure of parties by the High Court unless the parties were directly involved in crime. That was, of course, a speculation, and speculations never end in Ankara or in any political capital where there are some hot subjects. Yet, with the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of the Court of Appeals demanding the Lighthouse dossiers and the lower court looking into the case sending it, a new wave of speculation started in Ankara that this time the prosecutor may come up with some concrete evidence that might produce an 11 to null closure decision against the AKP.

Accordingly, there was some "foreign documentation" with the prosecutor demonstrating, in all clarity, the transfer of some "foreign assistance" to someone named "F.E." and who reportedly was very close to Erdoğan. Again, according to claims a portion of that "foreign assistance" was used in the financing of the foundation of the AKP. Can the prosecutor establish a direct link between the premier and "F.E." and open the closure case? That’s unclear for now.

But if the allegations are correct, a party receiving financial assistance from a foreign country, organization or individual cannot survive if such assistance can be proved. Hopefully, these speculations will remain as speculation, and we don’t go through the same pains we went through during the closure case last year. What is clear, however, is that we shall continue reading and writing more about the "bulb" of the AKP and the Islamist Lighthouse sham.
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Sell-out in Cyprus

2 Haziran 2009
Since Sunday morning, obsessed nationalists in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as well as in Turkey have been up in arms. If there were a bourse for accusation trading, many people would have gone bankrupt because of surplus of production. Some have started talking about a "gross sell-out" in Cyprus, some have launched a smearing campaign against the Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat claiming that he has said he would give away Cyprus to the Greek Cypriots. Obviously, the statement of Talat during a talk with some village people over the weekend that Turkish Cypriots must be prepared for territorial concessions within the framework of a comprehensive settlement to the almost 45-year-old problem of power sharing between the two peoples of the eastern Mediterranean island was not well timed. Indeed, there might be people who would qualify such a statement as product of crassness. Yet, Talat did not say anything new. Since the high-level agreements of 1977 and 1999 there has been an understanding between the two sides on the island that in a bi-zonal and bi-communal federal new partnership arrangement the Turkish side would have to hand over some portion of its present territory to the Greek Cypriot side while Greek Cypriots would have to agree to sharing power on the basis of political equality with Turkish Cypriots.

Nothing new

Indeed, during the Boutros-Boutros Ghali "Set of Ideas" discussions in the early 1990s, it was the then Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktaş who agreed to take down "in principle" and "pending to an overall settlement agreement" the Turkish Cypriot administered territory in a new federation to 29 plus percent of the island from the current 34 percent. That was the first time any Turkish Cypriot had suggested the limit of territorial concessions that can be made to Greek Cypriots in an agreement. No one had accused Denktaş of a sell-out to Greek Cypriots, though some people complained that he went too far, that he was too generous. There was a territorial adjustment in the failed Kofi Annan Plan for a resolution of the Cyprus problem as well. The Ghali Set of Ideas, like the Annan Plan, was rejected by the Greek Cypriot side while Denktaş had agreed to 97 paragraphs of the 100-paragraph plan and demanded renegotiation of three points, including the map attached to it.

Since then the Turkish Cypriot bottom limit in debates over the territorial aspects of the Cyprus problem has been 29 plus percent, while Greek Cypriots have been demanding far bigger territorial concessions from the Turkish Cypriot side. That is why in Cyprus talks territorial discussions have always been among the toughest subjects together with power sharing arrangements. Now, Talat is saying that since the Turkish Cypriot side agreed to go down to 29 plus percent before this latest round of talks started, it was obvious that in a settlement some bitter territorial concessions would have to be undertaken. Technically, by saying so Talat has done nothing further than re-emphasize what’s already obvious for anyone with some insight of the negotiations process on the island. Accusing the Turkish Cypriot leader of "selling out" in Cyprus would be a gross injustice.

Yet, is it the time to talk of territorial concessions now? Is there any reason for Talat to panic the Turkish Cypriots living in areas that might be handed over to Greek Cypriots? Talat might be attempting to portray an image of a leader who can discuss with his people frankly even the most contentious and irritating aspects of the current negotiations.

Obviously, at a time when a conviction is spreading among not only Turkish Cypriots but also among the Greek Cypriots that the current process is not progressing well, and according to latest opinion polls, on both sides there is around 65 percent opposition to the deal the two leaders have been trying to forge, and with only ten months left to the presidential elections in north, Talat may be trying to convince his people that only a frank leader like him who can talk about bitter things can deliver a settlement. Perhaps, this will be his strategy during the re-election campaign. Then, is he not required to reveal as well how badly his administration performed in the Orams case? Or, is he not required to reveal to Turkish Cypriot people the deadlock in talks with his Greek Cypriot counterpart over power sharing issues, an area so far no tangible progress could be achieved?

Power sharing is the heart of a settlement and all other issues including territory irrespective of how difficult it might be to negotiate them are just secondary issues. If there is deal in power sharing, there is a Cyprus deal. So simple.
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A warning of growing xenophobia

1 Haziran 2009
Research conducted by Bahçeşehir University with 1,715 subjects in 34 Turkish provinces has produced some striking Ğ and, indeed, worrisome Ğ results confirming the advance of conservatism, intolerance and male chauvinism in the country. The results of the "Radicalism and Extremism" study, carried out under the coordination of the eminent political scientist Prof. Yılmaz Esmer with financial support from the British Foreign Office, must be taken as an alarm bell by the government if it is sincerely committed to the European ambitions of the country, to globalization and, of course, to the values and norms of modernity that the European Union stands for.

The cumulative perception that the United States is "aiming" or "definitely aiming" to divide Turkey stood at 86 percent. In regard to the EU, there was a slight improvement, but, still, it appeared that some 76 percent of the respondents believe that the EU is either "aiming" or "definitely aiming" to divide Turkey.

Is not the U.S. Turkey’s leading ally? Can we be in allied relations with a country and still overwhelmingly believe that it aims to divide our nation? Can we be aspiring to join a club of democracies, aspiring to undertake reforms to consolidate in this country the norms and values that the EU stands for, and still overwhelmingly believe that the EU is either "aiming" or "definitely aiming" to divide our country?

In this respect, this study demonstrates the incredibly bad and serious mental confusion and perceptional anomalies in Turkey.

Strong views on neighbors

What does it mean when a study shows that 75 percent of Turks do not want neighbors who do not believe in God? When 72 percent do not want their neighbors to drink alcohol, 67 percent are opposed to having neighbors living without a marriage contract, 52 percent object to having Christian neighbors, 43 percent do not want an American couple next door, 36 percent oppose having neighbors whose daughters might wear shorts and 26 percent do not want neighbors who are ethnically or religiously different from them?

Are these figures reflective of a picture that conforms with the "culture of tolerance" we keep boasting exists in this land, or is this irritating picture a reflection of a growing xenophobic mindset in our society?

Cancer starts to develop in one cell, but if not diagnosed and treated early, it results in the death of the body. This study clearly places in front of all of us a very strong warning that Turkish society is becoming increasingly conservative and xenophobic.

A sad story on gender equality

One factor that might be considered a measure of a country’s level of democracy is to what extent there is gender equality or the awareness to promote it. This study produced some very sad conclusions in that area as well.

For example, 37 percent of the respondents said Ğ even in the current rampant unemployment situation in Turkey Ğ it would be correct to think that men should have more right to be employed than women. Eighty-six percent believe a woman should work only if her husband approves. Some 36 percent of those interviewed believe that compared to boys, girls should inherit a lesser percentage of the wealth left by their parents. Some 78 percent considered it a "sin" for women to sunbathe in swimming suits on beaches and 63 percent believe women must always cover their heads outside their homes.

Even though there is no such primitive punishment in Turkey, some 22 percent approved of the stoning to death of women involved in adultery.

However, 69 percent believe religious radical movements are a threat to Turkish national security and 66 percent believe such groups pose a serious threat to global peace.

Regarding the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, some 8 percent considered the terrorist group a "non-threat" to Turkey, while an overwhelming 82 percent declared the group the most serious security challenge facing the country.

When asked what is most important in their life, 62 percent listed religion, 16 percent secularism, 13 percent democracy, 5 percent ethnicity and only 4 percent adequate income.
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What historical opportunity?

30 Mayıs 2009
Is there really a "historical opportunity" to bring an end to the almost three decades-old separatist terrorism in Turkey? Do the latest landmine killings, hijacking of highway workers indicate some sort of a provocative revolt by some local elements of the separatist PKK, to the gang’s "commanders" up on the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq who have been sending "peaceful" messages to the Turkish state through Turkish or foreign select journalists? Or, are the killings and the hijackings a product of some "deep state" or let us put it more bluntly, Ergenekon elements trying to blow up the "historical opportunity" the president, the prime minister and some foreign statesmen have been stressing? Or, are those talking about a historical opportunity to bring an end to separatist terrorism indeed just day dreaming and talking out of nonsense without any indication that there was indeed any such probability?

Indeed, are not we required to first try to answer the question whether there is such a "historical opportunity" and perhaps think a little bit under what conditions we may have a "historical opportunity" to bring separatist terrorism to an end? If we cannot ask these questions and if we cannot give some honest and correct answers to these questions we may fool ourselves with some false hopes for some time but eventually find ourselves buried far deeper and far seriously in a swamp of terrorism.

It is no joke. Over the past few days 16 sons of this country were fallen. Seven of our sons were wounded in the attacks and will carry the mark of terrorism on their bodies throughout the rest of their lives. Are some elements within the PKK or some other elements trying to torpedo the "historical opportunity" that President Gül was talking about? Are there some elements that are scared that Turkey might be indeed at the threshold of making some historical reconciliation efforts and bring an end to the "terrorism industry" and thus hurt their dark businesses, be it drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trade or whatever?

Post-withdrawal role of Turkey

Or, is the "historical opportunity" remarks just product of a "historical betrayal" serving nothing but to create some suitable conditions required by the Iraq withdrawal plans of the U.S? Indeed, is it any secret for anyone with some brains that continued presence of the PKK in northern Iraqi hideouts could hinder plans to push Turkey when and if needed to the role of the "savior of Iraqi Kurds" once again?

Or, is it any secret for anyone with some realism that Iraqi Arabs, irrespective whether they are Sunni or Shiite, will never agree to northern Iraqi Kurds possessing natural wealth, the oil and gas resources of the country, and in the aftermath of U.S. withdrawal there is a high probability of an Arab-Kurd civil war in Iraq?

Or, is it any secret that if such a not-so-improbable event unfortunately develops Iraqi Kurds will have no one but Turkey to turn to ask for defensive help? More, how would a Turkey, unhappy with the continued presence of the PKK in northern Iraq and upset with remarks such as "Not the PKK members, we shall not even give back Turkey a cat," rush to the help of Iraqi Kurds that day? Thus, on the one hand there might be "resistance" from the terrorism industry to the success of the presumed "historical opportunity" while on the other hand the "historical opportunity" appears to be one that fits well to the post-withdrawal Iraq designs and particularly that answers the security of Iraqi Kurds in the post withdrawal period.

Irrespective what provocations the terrorism industry might stage, however, if and when the U.S and the Iraqi Kurds, and of course the central Iraqi administration, decide to put an end to the presence of the PKK in northern Iraq, this country will have not only a "historical opportunity" to bring the separatist terrorism industry to an end but at the same time to make some strong contributions to efforts aimed at establishing normalcy in Iraq and prevent with its deterrent capabilities a possible development of a civil war atmosphere there.

Apart from the need to make reforms in the country to eradicate the complaints of the ethnic Kurdish population and dry the swamp the PKK mosquitoes are using as breeding ground, ending foreign support to terrorists is a must for success in this fight. It is a fact that as long as terrorists are provided with some sort of a safe haven in a neighboring difficult geography it will not be possible to have a historical opportunity of finishing it out with some local operations and aerial bombing of camps on the other side of the border.
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Hypocrisy unmasked

29 Mayıs 2009
Is it possible to talk of peace, claim readiness for a "democratic resolution" but at the same time continue ambushing military outposts, laying land mines on roads, killing sons of this country, burning work machines and kidnapping highway workers? Probably in few weeks or few months time an officious prosecutor may come with a claim that all such heinous actions attributed to the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, were indeed staged by the so-called Ergenekon "gang" with the "aim and intention" of creating unrest and plotting a military takeover. Unfortunately, this ludicrousness has become a lifestyle for some people as long as such absurdities fit well into the designs of oppressing the opponents and silencing the critics. Besides the kidnapping of two highway workers and burning down of several work machines, the PKK was held responsible Thursday for a mine blast at southeastern Hakkari’s Çukurca district that killed six soldiers and wounded eight others, one of them seriously. The two events were just the latest terrorist actions in the region while the separatist gang’s current "military chieftain" Murat Karayılan is busy talking with some selected Turkish and foreign journalists and making offer after offer for a "peaceful and democratic resolution" of the Kurdish problem of Turkey.

Probably, within days Karayılan will come up with a statement to one of those journalists and give assurances that the PKK "command" was sincere in its peaceful offers but it was "normal" to have such exceptional small actions taken by some small local PKK groups outside the information and permission of the "headquarters." Indeed, with its government, presidency and the main opposition party Turkey has been nourishing for some time the idea of a comprehensive resolution of the Kurdish problem, though no one so far has any concrete idea what that comprehensive resolution formula might be, excluding the fact that whatever would be done cannot come before the PKK gave up arms or at least stopped violence. What’s more, while the government, for obvious reasons, is not yet talking about a possible amnesty for those members of the separatist terrorist group that were not involved in violence, the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, leader Deniz Baykal came up with a rather surprising statement stressing that Turkey could consider an amnesty for the gang if and when arms were silenced.

Serious consideration in Ankara

Compared with what Baykal was saying just few days ago and how he was criticizing the President Abdullah Gül’s statement that "there will be some good developments" as signs of something bad being cooked behind closed doors by the AKP, seeing the CHP leader talking about an amnesty, even a conditional one, was of course a very interesting development. Similarly, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, extending an invitation to Baykal and the CHP leader declaring that he would seriously consider the invitation was an important happening. These developments, as well as the continued resolution of the government and Gül that there was an ever-high probability of a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish problem, all are indicators of a serious consideration in Ankara.

The PKK, on the other hand, has been acting in a hypocritical manner as would be expected from it. On one hand, it talks about a peaceful resolution and even though most of what Karayılan so far said appears to be the product of a lunatic mind, it is trying to give an image that if it is given a chance by the Turkish state it could indeed take some steps toward a nonviolent resolution of the Kurdish problem. On the other hand, as has often been the case at times when there is some serious hopeful developments toward peace, we see some heinous actions undertaken by some "local PKK elements." No one can be fooled.

The latest PKK actions, particularly the deaths of six more sons of this nation to a mine blast, have unmasked the gang’s hypocrisy once again. The sole positive development in this latest atrocious episode of separatist terrorism was the statement from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, leader Ahmet Türk who, for a change, deplored the violence and expressed sorrow over the death of six soldiers.

No one could agree less with what Türk has said in his statement: "Those who want a democratic resolution must pull his fingers off the trigger!"

Can the PKK take its finger off the trigger? Can there be a chance for peace before the PKK takes such a move?
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Dangerous designs

27 Mayıs 2009
It appears that the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has started pondering once again some very dangerous plans in hopes of putting an end to or at least slowing down its meltdown. Indeed, the recent history of the country demonstrates vividly that social tension and polarization help advance the AKP and help the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, to at least maintain its status as the strongest opponent of the AKP. But such stiff polarization is not conducive to the advancement of the country at all. As was demonstrated in the March local elections when the political debate in the country concentrated on some concrete issues such as the economy, cost of living, unemployment, collapsing companies, the ruling party’s popularity start to recede and consequently the AKP vote declined for the first time since it came to power with an electoral landslide in 2003 and dipped to 38 percent.

In that vote, not only the CHP scored a marginal improvement in its electoral support, but there was improvement in the electoral support for the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, as well. The March local polls result, thus, helped the acceleration of the search in center-right spectrum of Turkish politics for an "alternative" to the AKP. Hüsamettin Cindoruk’s return to active politics and becoming leader of the Democrat Party, or DP, renewed efforts of achieving a merger of the DP and the Motherland Party, or ANAP, and former deputy premier Abdüllatif Şener establishing his long-expected Turkey Party, or TP, could as well be considered byproducts of that new search.

In the left flank of the political spectrum, on the other hand, the success of some out of line candidates (even though some of them were not successful enough to get elected to mayoral posts but considerably increased the CHP vote in their localities) strengthened the calls and search for "change" in the CHP and led to a leadership change in the Democratic Left Party, or the DSP.

But when there was a heated and polarized debate in the country over religion, secularism and the perceived threat to secular and modern lifestyle, irrespective of the economic performance of the government the electoral support for the AKP tended to radically improve, as was seen with the 47 percent electoral support for the AKP in the 2007 parliamentary elections after a campaign dominated by AKP’s demand to send an "Islamist president" to the Çankaya presidential palace and the secularist CHP scaring the nation that the modern, secular republic was at risk.

Can AKP risk going to referendum?

In the aftermath of the 2007 success of the AKP was of course there was the foiled attempt to make amendments in the Constitution and allow Islamist headscarf enter universities and consequently the closure case against the ruling party from which it narrowly escaped closure but was sentenced to a fine with a 10 to one vote by the high court of being a focus of anti-secular activities.

Now, apparently the architects of the previous constitutional amendment crisis are back at work and advising the prime minister that while it might be easier and more comfortable to make amendments in the constitution through establishing a consensus with the opposition parties, the AKP was strong enough to risk going to referendum and thus undertake the reforms in the national charter on its own. Naturally, introducing the so-called "Venice criteria" in closure of parties, that is prohibiting party closures unless direct involvement of parties in violence or changing the composition, increasing the number of judges as well as the election procedures of the constitutional court are of great importance for AKP’s own fight for survival.

If debate in the country focuses once again on religion and secularism and if the country makes a return to that heated polarized atmosphere again, not only the meltdown in AKP might be stopped but the party may go to a possible early election in 2011 with a potential to win over 40 percent electoral support once again.

"If needed the nation will open any political bottleneck through a referendum because these amendments are needed for our EU bid" remarks coming from the AKP flank lately indicate the existence and spread of that dangerous mentality in the AKP. Will that mentality bring back the AKP with an over 40 percent electoral support or lead to some very serious consequences?
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Our minorities - II

27 Mayıs 2009
One important factor behind the suffering of minorities of this land, and perhaps of this entire region, is the perception that considers minorities as a potential threat to "national security" or as a "natural collaborator" with outside forces determined to hurt the "nation". While in most parts of the world the term minority implies a group of people who might have ethnical, cultural or religious differences from the majority of the people of that land and while they enjoy "equal rights" with the rest of the community, they are provided with some "additional rights" so that they can protect and promote the "differences" they have from the rest. So while all citizens of a country enjoy full and equal rights, minorities have some "added rights" that aims to enable them to preserve their "peculiarities" or "differences".

There are no laws or de facto restrictions in those democracies barring minority community members, let’s say, from becoming teachers, civil servants, top bureaucrats or even officers. Even, in some democracies, with the aim and intention of giving minorities an opportunity to have a voice in the running of the country, there is the application of "quota" for them in legislatures, though the "quota" application appears odd under the principle of universal suffrage.

Yet, while perhaps because of the bitter recent history and established prejudices it is not valid in Turkey or in our wider geography, in most democracies minorities are in principle an "added value" to society, not a "security threat."

Erdoğan’s confession

If he was not the frustrated prime minister and political party leader, who just before the March local elections declared adamantly during a tour of the southeast that those who did not love this country were free to go wherever they liked, perhaps we would applaud Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for delivering a historical apology to "the other half" of this nation who were told "Love it or leave it" or simply forced by nationalist or Islamist mobs to abandon their homeland and settle somewhere else.

Still, conceding as a grave and fascist mistake that was done to our many minorities both in the founding period of the republic and at various occasions since then must be saluted as a late but welcome awareness of what we indeed have lost by losing those elements of our society. If the person who uttered those words might have been someone of his word, perhaps we would even feel happy that perhaps from now on our minorities would perhaps be provided a better opportunity of manifesting themselves without feeling compelled to hide their cultural, linguistic, ethnic and other peculiarities in a new atmosphere of respect to differences.

But, remembering that the same "great Turkish leader" was using recently a rather xenophobic, tone-bordering hate speech, when he referred to some 40,000 "illegal Armenians" living and working in Turkey and reminded the Yerevan government that if they did not behave well, the Turkish government might pack and send back all those illegal Armenians but so far Turkey is approaching the matter with a humanitarian perspective and not taking any action, it becomes difficult for me to feel happy over the acknowledgment that it was a fascist practice to force emigration of the non-Muslim minorities of this land. Now, even though we have serious questions about Erdoğan’s sincerity in making that confession, I do have difficulty as well in understanding why everyone is attacking the premier because he qualified the oppression of minorities as "fascist practices".

Why don’t we better ask ourselves why even today our Jewish population or other minorities continue to emigrate from Turkey? Why is Turkey still losing its gems?

Why this resistance to facing our own history? Is there any probability to advance before conceding the mistakes, irrespective how serious or how few they might be, we made in the past, draw lessons from them and avoid such shameful attitudes in the future?

The radical, nationalist, Islamist advances in this country, the xenophobic "love it or leave it" attitudes of some of our political elite and the very fact that we only have a handful of minorities in this land today all demonstrate the need for replacing the exclusive understanding with an inclusive one, the confrontation culture with a compromise one, the rejectionist one with an engagement one.

Without its gems this land will be a barren one.
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Our minorities - I

26 Mayıs 2009
It is a sad reality, but the dwindling size of the non-Muslim Greek, Armenian, Catholic Levantine or Syriac minorities testify to the reality that this land has lost some of its precious jewels over the past several decades.

Irrespective of whether one describes as "fascist pressure" or "peer pressure," it is a fact as well that members of those minorities who left Turkey and settled somewhere else did not decide to do so voluntarily, but felt compelled because of the not so favorable conditions created by the advance of some radical and exclusive political tendencies in this land.

Irrespective whether it was a "genocide" as Armenians wish to describe it or a hostile atmosphere produced by a civil war, Russian aggression as well as imperial designs of some Western powers in which Turks, Kurds and Arabs confronted with the local Armenian population and consequently immense human suffering was lived, it is a fact that compared to the closing years of the 19th century, we almost have no sizeable Armenian presence in today’s Turkey.

Besides the population exchange application in line with the Lausanne Treaty in the founding period of the Turkish Republic, the sad and shameful September 6-7, 1955 events in Istanbul forced the majority of the remaining Greek community of Istanbul flee to Greece. Were not they "owners" of this land, as much as we ethnic Turks are? Yet, those sons of this land were compelled to abandon their homeland and settle in Greece because the Istanbul of 1955 was no longer a safe place for them to stay on.

The Syriacs suffered as well a similar but perhaps a less traumatic but long enduring process that eventually resulted with many members of the community abandoning their homeland and settling somewhere else because of increased threats to their security. Don’t we have Syriac villages with no or very few Syriacs today in Mardin and elsewhere in that geography of our country? Did they leave their homeland voluntarily? Did not the political climate and the insensitivity of the state to their plight produced this end result? Even today, if the remaining dwindled Syriac community of Turkey can get almost no support from the Turkish authorities but receive an across the parliament support from all groups in the Bundestag against the alleged occupation by some villagers the forested land of the Deyrelumur, or the Mor Gabriel Monastery in Mardin?

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