Turkey's struggle for democratization
The Turkish Land Forces Command's request for district governors to "register pro-EU groups" dates back to a 2004 news article and serves as historical evidence of the republic's struggle and failure to achieve democratization. It highlights a continuous shift from one form of guardianship to another, reflecting a troubling political legacy.
I was recently reminded of this troubling legacy by an email from Mesut Varlik:
"Mr. Mehmet, I've entrusted a book to Mehtap for you - a book that no longer serves any purpose in my possession. Suppose it proves to be of any use or value to you, fantastic. If not, its fate is in your hands.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the book Mesut had given me was not merely an old artifact but a true gem that would be a valuable addition to my collection and the press history.
The book titled "Headlines" reveals the stories behind the news that once dominated the front pages, told by the very people who penned those lines. Without the original authors, the late Tufan Turenc and Sefa Kaplan have taken the liberty of telling these stories.
Published by Dogan Kitapcilik and distributed by Hurriyet Newspaper, the book's publication date remains elusive, but the final headline is dated November 28, 2005, suggesting a 2005 release.
The implicit aim of "Headlines" seems to be to defend Hurriyet against accusations of sensationalism by claiming that the newspaper was merely practicing journalism. Whether this claim holds water is still up for debate.
The quintessence of the book, however, lies in its depiction of the prevailing climate in Turkey against the backdrop of its political and social landscape. Each piece encapsulates an era and echoes the undercurrents of its "political and social background."
The March 10, 2004 headline "This is another plugging scandal" stands out among the myriad of stories.
The article, written by Necdet Acan, made a striking revelation:
"The twelve-page document in the delivered envelope came from the 2nd Armored Brigade Command of the Land Forces Command and was addressed to four district governors and three military units on the Anatolian side of Istanbul.
At first, it bore a striking resemblance to the countless BCG (Western Working Group) documents I came across during the February 28 trial, each dealing with reactionary and separatist organizations.
However, first impressions proved deceptive, as the following pages systematically labeled virtually all social segments except 'nationalists'.
This move reveals Turkey's historical distance from democratic norms.
The article's preamble reinforces this impression:
"The Land Forces Command sent a letter to district governors requesting information on 'pro-EU and pro-US individuals and high society.' The directive sought information on individuals and institutions perceived as 'separatist and subversive,' broadening its scope to include artists, high society groups, Satanists, Freemasons, minorities, and Internet groups.
A thorough investigation of "pro-EU and pro-US individuals and groups perceived as transcending national values" was initiated. The directive called for identifying elite social circles, artists' collectives, and the offspring of wealthy families".
This attitude of the Land Forces Command to label "pro-EU groups," confirmed by the district governors, is significant.
The subsequent confirmation of this directive by the General Staff underscores this narrative.
In a country where democracy remains elusive and fundamental rights and freedoms have yet to be firmly embraced by society, curious events are the norm rather than the exception.
"Headlines" is an essential historical document highlighting the ongoing challenges of democratization in the republic and the constant transition from one teaching to another.
The depicted news stories reveal a path where the "roads to hell" are paved with "good intentions" and the audacity of those in power who maneuver around the law with alarming ease.
Yesterday's events have shaped today's landscape.
And today's unfolding narrative-where will it take us in the future?
As a society, the answer to this looming question will be revealed through the lens of lived experience...