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The following article appeared in Cumhuriyet on 22 June 2013. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton

Social Reaction and Violence

Hikmet Çetinkaya

You are not to raise your voice, you will sit in a corner and watch events in silence.
You will bow your head!

You will join the ranks, not of the oppressed, but of the oppressors!
You will ignore the violence and use of disproportionate force by the police, and rail against the protestors:
“They are burning down and destroying, waging an illegal protest, urinating all over the place…”
That is what the AKP government, its sidekicks and cronies, so-called scientists and our turncoat friends without consciences are saying:
“There is nothing innocent about the protestors !”
Is it crime to exercise one’s constitutional rights, to desire for a broadening of democracy and freedom, to stand up against pillage and plunder and to defend nature?
A crime?
Whatever the regime does, it is right.
This is the nature of oppressive regimes, after all.
You will not voice opposition, you will crouch down in a corner and, if asked, this is how you will reply:
“Whatever dictators, kings and sultans do, they are right; it is a sin to oppose them!”
Equal citizenship, seeking rights, trade union rights and freedoms …
On your bike, folks!
Foreign powers are involved, those that don’t want Turkey to develop. The likes of the USA, the EU, Israel.
That’s their plan; let the young people and the media supporting them not fall for this.
Roughly the last six years of the AKP’s eleven-year rule have been as follows:
“We will lay down the law – hands off!”
Nobody could lay a finger on them!
Military guardianship has been replaced by a civilian regime guardianship.
Finally, when it was least expected, reactions have turned into protest.
The regime, instead of getting to grips with an explosion of this nature and, having made a correct analysis, reaching out to society, elected to accentuate discord and held meetings, first in Ankara, and then in Istanbul.

***

Turkey is not Syria, Iraq, Libya or Tunisia.
Society is fairly well educated and democratic consciousness holds sway among the uneducated.
A brief glance through the pages of our recent history bears abundant testament to this.
There remain a few months until the end of the regime’s eleventh year in power.
Those in power, seeing themselves confronted by a weak opposition, thought, “We know – the people don’t.”
They believed that a silent, non-reactive society had been created. They laid down the law.
The media was now in their hands.
The social explosion that broke out on 31 May was not covered by the mainstream media and TV channels.
We had all forgotten about the social media and the 90’s generation!
We thought that those young people had distanced themselves from politics.
We got it wrong!
They put up such a response that even the media bosses and big capital were woken from their torpor.
Live broadcasts started and the world media covered events in Turkey.
A certain few members of the AKP regime’s government grasped what was going on but Prime-Minister Erdođan maintained his arrogant, authoritarian posture.
Police violence brought the people onto the streets.
Four dead – one of them a policeman – and hundreds injured.
People blinded.
Where did the protests draw their strength from?
From democracy, peace, freedom, reason and love.
This strength did not come about with the support of the opposition.
The masses gave a lesson not only to the AKP, but also to the CHP, the MHP, the BDP and to all extra-parliamentary political groupings.
The attempt to sow discord among our people living together in the same land failed.
The winner was not the masses, but our democracy.
How sad that this has not sunk in with the AKP regime today.

***

If you read human history you will see that mass actions of this kind have occurred all over the world.
Politicians must know that, and if they don’t, must read up on it.
Such actions are the product of a revolutionary spirit, reason, intelligence and solidarity.
Oppression creates its own reaction!
Those who cannot palate democracy, peace and fraternity wish to create a slave society.
They will not succeed, folks!

Social Reaction and Violence…

Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton