Is Turkey set to reenact the same scenarios from 49 years past?

Is Turkey set to reenact the same scenarios from 49 years past?
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If presidential hopeful Kilicdaroglu intends to honor his democratization promises he must ensure that the HDP and other leftists have a say.

There was a radio program that laid bare the inconsistencies, corruption, and scandals of politicians and which was broadcast in the mornings on one of Belgium’s most watched French-language radios La Premiere in the 1990s. It was called “The Week of Hell.” In Kilicdaroglu’s words, Meral Aksener’s threaten-attack-retreat operation in her fit of nationalism put Turkish politics through a hell of a week.

Flustered in the face of Aksener’s challenge (“The Table of Six has lost its ability to reflect the will of the nation. We will not sit at either the gambling table or the notary table”), Kilicdaroglu had soothed followers of the Nation Alliance saying, “Do not worry, everything is going to fall into place.” And fall into place they did, once Kilicdaroglu who secured the presidency as the “week of hell,” which came to an end before its seventh day due to the concessions he made, turned into a “week of heaven” for the leaders, and especially for Aksener, of the five right-wing parties on the Table of Six.

Yes, if the May 14 elections validate the public opinion polls by resulting in the defeat of President Erdogan and the People’s Alliance which he leads, in the 100th year of its existence the Republic of Turkey will become a state led by a President from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), five right-wing Vice Presidents, and the ministers they appoint to the cabinet.

And the plan to make the mayors of Ankara and Istanbul vice presidents at a suitable time solely to appease Aksener will probably be inscribed in gold lettering in the Republic’s political literature!

Undoubtedly, the Consensus Paper comprised of nine headings and 244 pages released on January 30 includes promises by these six leaders, despite whatever their ideological and political leanings may be, regarding what they will do for “democratization and respect for human rights” after May 14 even though it makes no mention of a solution to the Kurdish question or an end to cross-border invasions and operations.

The primary requisite for the realization of these promises stands as the unanimous opposition to the Supreme Court’s closure of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which remains the third largest party in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, and to take into account the Labor and Freedom Alliance’s proposals, a member of which is the HDP, in the parliament to be formed in the May 14 elections.

Kilicdaroglu, who for years has evaded sitting at the same table with the HDP and who has even supported measures to lift the parliamentary immunity of HDP deputies, announced after he had secured his candidacy for president that just as he “tries to reach all segments of society,” he will visit the HDP too.

However, it is obvious that the real reason for this visit is to prevent the HDP from nominating their own candidate for president and, just as it was in the mayoral elections of Ankara and Istanbul, to secure the votes of the HDP base.

If presidential hopeful Kilicdaroglu truly wants to ensure the democratization of Turkey after May 14, must he not also take into consideration the proposals of the Union of Socialist Forces and the Labor and Freedom Alliance, of which the HDP is a member, and not only the Consensus Paper of the Nation Alliance, and guarantee that that these are accepted by his partners at the Table of Six?

Even after the Good Party, led by Aksener who is prone to fits of nationalism, returned to the Table it had not given up on its opposition to the HDP and was able to say, “The CHP may meet with the HDP, but it can never bring the HDP to us.”


Then again, even if the CHP establishes dialogue, the Felicity Party led by Temel Karamollaoglu, who hosted Kilicdaroglu’s accession to “presidential candidate,” has already initiated measures to create a new center of gravity within the administration to come.

In its headline for the March 8 issue published after Kilicdaroglu was declared as the sole candidate, the National Gazette, an organ of the Felicity Party, revealed the party that would be the big guns of the future governing coalition with the headline, “Felicity becomes the center of politics.”

Furthermore, the right-wing is more active in politics these days than the left. Neither is Karamollaoglu’s Felicity Party the only representative of the National Vision Movement founded by Necmettin Erbakan half a century ago… The New Welfare Party led by Erbakan’s son Fatih Erbakan is now in the business of directing Islamist votes to the People’s Alliance…

This is probably why Karamollaoglu has already mobilized to build a new right-wing coalition with the Future Party and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) within the Nation Alliance… To ensure that they do not lose the Islamist voter base to the New Welfare Party they proudly assert that they will protect all of the AKP’s Islamist impositions and congregations in a program aired on TV5: “No one should worry. Neither the Imam Hatip schools, nor the question of the headscarf, or the appointments to public office, none of these can be banned. Some say, ‘let us ban religious congregations.’ You cannot ban a religious group. Such outbursts are the result of prejudiced movements in certain spaces. I assure you that we will surrender any gains, and especially the matters we have mentioned.”


March 12 first made its mark on the history of the Turkish Republic in 1921 with Mehmet Akif Ersoy’s poem “To Our Heroic Army,” which was accepted as the national anthem by parliament.

The second March 12 was the day that the heroic army, to whom the anthem had been dedicated, attacked the protesting workers in the Kozlu mines and killed two miners, Satilmis Tepe and Mehmet Cavdar.

Those were the days we had been trying to make Aksam Gazetesi (The Evening Paper) the daily voice of the left, opening its pages to leftist writers, especially Cetin Altan, Yasar Kemal and Fethi Naci, and more importantly, trying to ensure that the voice of the Workers’ Party of Turkey, which was going to participate in the parliamentary elections for the first time in 1965, was heard.

We reported on the Kozlu attack with the manifesto-like headline "Workers were fired at" on the first page of Aksam.

The third March 12 was the day 6 years later, in 1971, when the same army published a memorandum overthrowing the government and starting a bloody period of terror, torture, imprisonment, and execution in the country with the support of all parties represented in the parliament except for the Workers’ Party of Turkey.

One of the first practices of the martial law declared by the coup plotters of March 12 was to announce on the radio and in the print media that "Ant Magazine, which persistently violates Articles 142, 311, 312, 156, and 159 of the Turkish Penal Code, has been closed indefinitely, and the necessary legal proceedings have been initiated against those responsible.”

A year prior, after the first martial law declared following the Great Workers' Resistance on June 15-16, 1970, we had published Ant (Oath) with the slogan "Capitalist officers cannot judge the workers" on its cover. I had then been questioned at the First Army Headquarters by nine officers who openly threatened me, as a result of which I disregarded its illegality and went abroad with a fake passport where we started a campaign of democratic resistance against the junta.

The approval by the Turkish Grand National Assembly of the martial law court's death sentences for Deniz Gezmis, Yusuf Arslan, and Huseyin Inan on March 10, 1972 after the decision had passed through the Military Court of Appeals was to become one of the most disgraceful events in the annals of Turkish politics of that period.

That day, 118 out of 441 deputies did not participate in the voting, of the 323 voting members, two abstained and 48 voted against, while 273 deputies from the Justice Party (AP), the Republican People's Party (CHP), the Trust Party (GP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Nation Party (MP), the New Turkey Party (YTP), and the Unity Party (BP) voted in favor of the execution of the three revolutionary youth.

And the fourth March 12... 28 years ago, on March 12, 1995, during the Tansu Ciller administration in which the CHP was a partner, the Counter-Guerrilla invaded the Gazi District in Istanbul, which was densely populated by Alevi citizens, killing 22 citizens and injuring hundreds of others. Despite the witness statements that “the police trampled on our dead and wounded,” only two police officers would be sentenced, soon to be released from prison where they stayed for a very brief time with the passage of the infamous "Rahsan Amnesty.”


I will now go back to March 12 of this year... The news of Felicity Party leader Temel Karamollaoglu’s attempt to form a triple alliance with the Future and DEVA parties within the Nation Alliance and the assurance he gave to Islamist voters that Imam Hatip schools and congregations will never be touched is reverberating in the media.

This is not surprising for the generations who remember the 1974 elections and how the CHP-MSP (National Salvation Party) coalition was formed afterwards.

When an amnesty for political prisoners was issued after the establishment of the coalition of which Bulent Ecevit was the Prime Minister and Necmettin Erbakan was the Deputy Prime Minister, the release of the Islamists imprisoned and convicted under Article 163 of the Penal Code was unanimously approved but when the turn came to pardon the leftists arrested under Articles 141 and 142, MSP deputies voted "No" with great pride. The escape of these leftists from prison was made possible only through the decision of the Supreme Court.

Regarding the Cyprus operation in 1974, The CHP-MSP coalition dissolved on September 17, 1974, as Deputy Prime Minister Erbakan, not content with the occupation of half of the island, imposed on the government the conquest of the entire island.

Right afterwards, Erbakan pushed democracy to the side and took part in the First Nationalist Front government in March 1975, in which the AP, MHP and the CGP (Republican Reliance Party) were also included. Erbakan was also part of the Second Nationalist Front government, which was formed with the participation of the same parties in July 1977, as a Minister of State and Deputy Prime Minister. Later, he also supported the minority government established by the AP in November 1979 from the outside.

After the long prohibition period after the September 12 coup, Erbakan, who founded the Welfare Party in 1987, formed the Welfare-Path coalition government with Tansu Ciller in 1996 and began to host what amounted to banquets for religious sect leaders and sheikhs at the prime minister's residence. This triggered the February 28 period, and on June 18, 1997, Erbakan was made to resign from his position as prime minister.

Erbakan's Welfare Party was dissolved by the Supreme Court on January 16, 1998, alongside the Virtue Party, which he also founded, in June 2001.

After these successive blows, the National Vision movement split into two, with the Felicity Party led by Erbakan on the one hand, and the AKP led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the other.

Years later, three parties, the Justice and Development Party, the Felicity Party, and the New Welfare Party founded by Necmettin Erbakan's son, are participating in the elections to be held on May 14, 2023.

In the upcoming two-month campaign period, the Islamist voter will have to choose between these three parties...

It should not be forgotten that Kilicdaroglu’s CHP, which prepares legislative proposals to make the headscarf which had already gained immunity under the AKP rule even more inviolable, is in the race alongside these three parties to win over religious voters.

While all this is happening on the Nation Alliance front, those who yearn for Turkey's transformation into a truly democratic and libertarian country, and those who struggle for this end, are waiting for an election strategy and candidate lists to be announced by the Labor and Freedom Alliance and the Union of Socialist Forces…

They are waiting impatiently...

*Dogan Ozguden: He worked for the Aegean Sun, The Morning Post, the Nation, and the Pionerr newspapers in Izmir since 1952, and worked as the editor-in-chief of the Evening Post and Evening Newspaper in Istanbul in the 60s. Since 1967, he published the socialist Oath Magazine with his wife Inci Yugsavul, Yasar Kemal, and Fethi Naci. He served as the director of the Journalists' Union, the Journalists' Association, the Press Honorary Council, and the Workers' Party of Turkey. He left Turkey after the coup of March 12, 1971, and became one of the founders of the Democratic Resistance Organization, Info-Turk News Agency, and Sun Workshops abroad, and the Union for Democracy organization after the September 12, 1980 coup. His wife and he both had their Turkish citizenship revoked in 1982 by the Evren Junta. He has authored books in French and English, including the “Turkey Files” against the March 12 regime in Turkey, “Black Book” the September 12 regime, the two volumes of "The Stateless Journalist” and the five volumes of “Writings in Exile” about his life in exile and his struggle. He has been writing for Arti Gercek since its establishment. (