Democratic decay and uncertainty in Turkey

To what will we wake up tomorrow?

This is a question that we have been asking ourselves quite often lately, and here are the reasons why! Although this political uncertainty started over almost two decades ago, we will only tackle the period from 11 March 2020 until today. Why 11 March 2020? Because on 11 March 2020 The Ministry of Health announced the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Turkey.

On top of the already existing political and economic unrest all over the country, the perpetual femicides, the marginalisation of the LGBTQIA+ community, and the systematic oppression of minorities, the pandemic was the icing on the cake!

From 11 March 2020, all people living in Turkey knew that nothing would be the same again

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused lockdowns all around the world. Lockdowns that were implemented by the state, because of the pandemic. We all had to stay indoors, limit our interactions, had to fill a form in order to go out (France), send a text message (Greece) or have an application (that might use your location if you allow it to) on our phone with our very own HES (Hayat Eve Sığar – Life Fits Home) code (Turkey).

The measures would change and adapt often to the rising numbers of cases, according to citizens‘ age and chronic illness history. We would wait for  the official announcements of the Health Minister Dr. Fahrettin Koca or President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. To what will we wake up tomorrow?

Then, on 8 November 2020 the Minister of Finance, and son in law of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Berat Albayrak resigned allegedly via an Instagram post. Murat Uysal, the President of Turkey’s central Bank was removed from his position by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Naci Ağbal was appointed as the new president of Turkey’s Central Bank. To what will we wake up tomorrow?

Then in mid December we were planning our New Year’s dinner table menu and read that alcohol sales were banned during weekend curfews, and although 31 December 2020 would be a Thursday, alcohol sales would be banned nonetheless. To what will we wake up tomorrow?

Then the first batch of 3 million doses of the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac arrived in Turkey on 30 December 2020. This vaccine was initially being tested on volunteers in Turkey since mid September.  On 25 January 2021, the vaccinations started for 80+ seniors, and continued with the elderly and hospital staff. To what will we wake up tomorrow?

Then in mid February, Turkey launched the mission dubbed Claw-Eagle 2 against PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) fighters holed up in the northern Iraqi region of Gara. 13 prisoners that were being held by the PKK died including Turkish intelligence, police and military personnel – during clashes in the area. To what will we wake up tomorrow?

On 17 March, Chief Public Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation filed a closure case against the pro Kurds Peoples‘ Democratic Party (HDP) by appealing to the Constitutional Court. The indictment has been sent to the top court. In the indictment prepared by the Court of Cassation’s Chief Public Prosecutor Şahin, there is also a request for a political ban on 687 HDP politicians. To what will we wake up tomorrow?

In the event that the Constitutional Court concludes that the related people, with their statements and actions, have caused the total closure of the party, they shall not be the founder, member, executive or inspector of another political party for five years starting from the day when the top court’s detailed ruling of party closure is published in the Official Gazette. To what will we wake up tomorrow?

On 20 March, Turkey withdrew its signature from the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention with a Presidential decree published in the Official Gazette. Some have been criticising the decree by noting that It is unconstitutional to withdraw from an international convention with a Presidential decree.

Below you will find quotes of politicians regarding the withdrawal:

Vice President Fuat Oktay has stated:

„We are determined to bring forward our sincere struggle to raise the Turkish women’s prestige and respectability in society to a well-deserved height by retaining our traditional social fabric in the meantime. There is no need to seek a solution outside or copy others for this lofty aim. The solution lies in the very customs and traditions of ours; it lies in our essence.“

Turkey’s Minister of Family, Labor and Social Services Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk has said:

„The guarantee for women is the current legal regulations in our domestic legislation, primarily the Constitution. Our legal system is dynamic and powerful enough to introduce new legislation, if needs be.“

Also on 20 March, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan  fired Governor Naci Ağbal from Turkey’s Central Bank, who was appointed in November, and gave the job to Şahap Kavcıoğlu, according to a decree published after midnight on Saturday in the Official Gazette. To what will we wake up tomorrow?

As the COVID-19 pandemic is paving the way for authoritarianism and overall state control, we will keep fighting for our rights

Democracy is in decay, and we are tired of wondering what we will wake up to tomorrow! We will fight for the implementation of the Istanbul Convention by being present. Being present not only mentally, but also physically, on social media, supporting and empowering our fellow comrades in Gender 1 DSC and Gender Turkey 1 DSC. The struggle is ours!

As comrade Fotini Bakadima notes in her recent article: “Attempts like trying to ban the HDP and denying the will of millions of people should not be tolerated by anyone.” We stand in solidarity with our comrades in HDP and their democratic right to elect, be elected and be the voice of the people who vote for them.

In order to get involved, you can sign the petition on our website!

Photo Source: Ahval

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