Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s increasingly authoritarian rule is again evident this week with the rounding up of dozens of professors for simply signing a petition denouncing military operations against Kurds in the south-east of the country. The signatories of the petition included famous linguist Noam Chomsky and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. Erdoğan responded angrily to the letter, which was denounced as “terror propaganda” and he called on the judiciary to act against their alleged treachery. Supporters of Erdoğan and nationalist students have been intimidating academics by marking their doors and threatening professors who signed the petition calling for peace.
Like most of the world, we have watched the rapid decline of civil liberties in Turkey after the election of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his coalition of Islamic parties. Just last month, we discussed the arrest of Mehmet Emin Altunses, 16, who allegedly committed the crime of “insulting” Erdoğan. calling people who use birth control “traitors” and saying Muslims discovered America, you are not allowed to be disrespectful or insulting in discussing Erdoğan. Then there was the prosecution of model and former Miss Turkey Merve Buyuksarac, 26, for criticizing Erdogan for quoting a few lines from a poem called the “Master’s Poem” from weekly Turkish satirical magazine Uykusuz. Erdoğan’s totalitarian measures have earned him the nickname “Buyuk Usta” (the Big Master). Even a joking reference to Gollum and Erdoğan is enough to land you in jail today in Turkey.
The petition at the heart of the most recent Erdoğan crackdown is pure political speech. These academics signed a petition together with more than 1,400 others calling for an end to Turkey’s “deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish people”. Ninety universities were represented on the petition with academics calling themselves “Academicians for Peace.” Erdoğan simply labeled them terrorists and demanded immediate action against them.
Equally disturbing is how nationalist students have been marking the doors of professors who have spoken against the government. Also chilling is the alliance of organized crime with the government and vigilantes. This is not the first time that nationalist and authoritarian governments have been supported by organized crime. However, a message from notorious crime boss, Sedat Peker, is ominous. Peter declared on his website (sedatpeker.com) that “You should be thanking the police and military that you have tried to discredit. If those terrorists achieve the mission of causing the Muslim Turks’ state to fail, then it will the beginning of frightening times for you. At that moment, the bell will toll for you all. … I would like to say it again: We will spill your blood and we will take shower with your blood!!”
This is the state of Turkey after the rise of our ally Erdoğan. When his Islamic parties joined to elect him, Erdoğan assured Turks that he would not seek to curtail rights or impose Islamic rules. He then proceeded to rollback on religious freedoms, free press, free speech, and basic associational rights while expanding his own power. What was the world’s greatest hope for a secular and modern government among Muslim nations was dismantled by Erdoğan and his increasingly violent supporters.
The effort of these brave academics to stand against his government (even in the face of threats from their own students) is a profile of courage for all academics around the world.
28 thoughts on “Turkey Arrests Dozens of Academics Who Signed Peace Petition As Enemies of the State”
I dunno out of the blue a few years ago my flip phone started showing the sickle. Then got info about turkey….as in watch your turkies…we were raising some. It is so psychic…way beyond turley.
Exhibit 1,216 for why one should never allow a government too much control and not enough accountability.
I am guessing Erdogan is not a student of irony.
1, January 15, 2016 at 4:52 pm
“It seems dictators need an ‘enemy’ to provide justification for their power grabs. In President Erdoğan’s mind, the Kurds represent that enemy.”
This is an extremelyimportant point and has been conspicuously operative in the calculations of the US Power Elite (aka the US Military-Industrial Complex) from at least 1945 to the present.
For many years, the Soviet Union served as the Enemy who justified the increasing control by the Power Elite of the thinking and behavior of US citizens and the concomitant erosion of their civil liberties, Joseph McCarthy being only one of their more visible representatives.
One of McCarthy’s staunchest defenders, William F. Buckley, Jr., a leading light in the American conservative movement, proposed what was necessary to combat the Red Menace:
“The brief article [by Buckley] begins splendidly, with the affirmation that our enemy is the State, and excellent quotations from such great individualists as Albert Jay Nock, Herbert Spencer, and H.L. Mencken. Buckley declares that the great issue of our time is freedom vs. Statism, and sides with Spencer that the State is ‘begotten of aggression and by aggression.’ He goes on to castigate the Republican Party for offering no real alternative to the Statist power-drive. It begins to appear that young Buckley is indeed a welcome newcomer to the libertarian ranks.
“He admits that his opposition to Statism, eloquently expressed at the beginning, is merely romantic academicism. For Buckley favors ‘the extensive and productive tax laws that are needed to support a vigorous anti-Communist foreign policy,’ and by implication supports ECA aid and 50-billion dollar ‘defense’ budgets. He declares that the ‘thus far invincible aggressiveness of the Soviet Union imminently threatens U.S. security,’ and that therefore ‘we have got to accept Big Government for the duration — for neither an offensive nor a defensive war can be waged … except through the instrumentality of a totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores.’
“Therefore, he concludes, we must all support ‘large armies and air forces, atomic energy, central intelligence, war production boards and the attendant centralization of power in Washington — even with Truman at the reins of it all.’ (Emphasis added)
When the Soviet Union collapsed, a new Enemy was sorely needed in order to convince the American public to continue accepting their being fleeced and “protected” by their rulers in the US Government and its corporate partners, most aptly labeled by President Dwight Eisenhower as the “Military-Industrial Complex.”
Such a need was spelled out in September, 2000 in the neocon paper, “The Project for a New American Century”: “The American peace has proven itself peaceful, stable, and durable. Yet no moment in international politics can be frozen in time: even a global Pax Americana will not preserve itself.’ To preserve this ‘American peace’ through the 21st century, the PNAC report concludes that the global order ‘must have a secure foundation on unquestioned U.S. military preeminence.’ The report struck a prescient note when it observed that ‘the process of transformation is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor.’ (My emphasis)
Such a “catastrophic and catalyzing event” very conveniently offered itself in the attacks of 9/11, and a new Enemy, Al-Qaeda (later morphing into “Terrorism”) was born. Shortly thereafter, the Patriot Act was passed (for the most part unread by its passers), further tightening the control of the rulers of the US National Security State over its American subjects. (See Glenn Greenwald’s How Would a Patriot Act?)
So, yes, having an “Enemy” is extremely important in the subjugation by authoritarian regimes of a country’s populace, via the demonization and instilled fear of that enemy, leading to war against it.
As Karl Rove put it, “Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.”
As Hermann Goering put it, “Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship… Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
(As told to Gustav Gilbert during the Nuremberg trials)
It seems an “enemy” is the glue that binds nations that are diametrically opposed regarding beliefs of what freedom means. The enemy was communism. It bound the US to fascist countries like Nazi Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia, etc. and now Turkey. Communism has been replaced by Islamic religious extremism. The Arab countries are both the melting pot for Islamic extremism and other forms of thuggery as well as the targets. These countries can only exist under extreme fascist governments. For the moment we choose the lesser of the evils. These governments are, however, evil.
It seems dictators need an “enemy” to provide justification for their power grabs. In President Erdoğan’s mind, the Kurds represent that enemy.
My big sis taught school in Turkey a decade ago. She says this guy is crazy! She’s a liberal and I’m not but I believe her on this point. Turkey used to be a nice country, then they elected a lunatic. ☹
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