My View: The Riots in Turkey – ERDOGAN A DICTATOR?

Since Friday riots have been carrying on in Turkey, starting from Taksim, they’ve now spread to different cities. The protests started with Erdogan wanting to build a mall in Gezi Park, Taksim. Taksim is one of the most touristic areas in Istanbul and Gezi Park has been there for about 75 odd years. So, people protesting for their park to remain were reasonable, understandable and respectable.

However, now the aim of the riots has changed. These riots have now become a “we’ve had enough” movement and are clearly responses to the governments new proposal of prohibiting alcohol sales from 22:00-06:00, which may also seem reasonable. But lets have a look at what Erdogan has achieved, not only since becoming PM in 2003, but since the last general election (2011) where the Justice and Development Party (AKP) gained 46.6% of the vote and 341 seats in the Turkish Parliament. This was a massive victory, a landslide victory.

One

(Results of the 2011 general election)

Described as an ‘Ottoman grandchild’ the left in Turkey and groups that follow the teachings of Ataturk have always feared that Erdogan was going to re-introduce Islam in Turkey after repression in the 20th century. Some argue that he has done this by building more mosques in Turkey and introducing prohibition of alcohol sales. However, another argument is that he is a “moderate Muslim”; he isn’t forcing anyone to abide by Islamic teachings and in fact has mentioned that AKP are not a party based on the Sharia Law.

Some people have taken the issue further and compared Erdogan with dictators such as Hitler and Mao. I just want them to do one thing: go look at your history and read how many people Ataturk has killed in order to create an autocratic state and then compare that number with the 0 Erdogan has murdered. Unfortunately, the only reason why people are out in the streets today is because they believe the moderate conservative policies of Erdogan are against the policies of Ataturk. A man who has literally contributed to a nation falling out with each other has been named a national hero, but a man who since becoming PM has reformed schools, improved Turkish-Kurdish relations and has improved Turkey’s economy is been labelled an enemy and rather an American agent. Pretty funny isn’t it.

Erdogan was criticised for sitting at the table with the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), who are the legal representatives of the terrorist group PKK, while trying to resolve the issue of terrorism and trying to improve Turkish-Kurdish relations. However, we see today that the protestors have become a fist with the BDP as together they protest against the government. Bit of irony there.

Two

The man pictured on the yellow flag is Abdullah Ocalan, better known as APO, who is the leader of the PKK movement while the man on the Turkey flag is Ataturk, better known as ‘Father Turk.’

One criticism of the government in handling these protests is that the police are too violent. The use of pepper spray and cold water to dismantle the protestors are being condemned not only by the left but also by a vast majority of the Turkish public. It seems that the police have become the puppet of the government, where as there ultimate role is to abide by peace and protect the citizens. I would agree with this argument, if it weren’t for those un-peaceful protestors who have contributed to the death of 2 people already and have burnt down various government buildings. They’ve even burnt down 2 schools that are run by the Hizmet Movement, who are also perceived as enemies as they follow the teachings of Said Nursi and Fetullah Gulen, and have nothing to do with the government. But that’s a total different story.

Three

Pictured: the AKP headquarters in Izmir being burnt down.

If the riots had taken place in the East of the country, which is a Kurdish populated area, the West of the country would’ve easily named it terrorism. But because they don’t live in that area they don’t interpret their riots as terrorism, rather they interpret it as a democratic movement. Ha!
To conclude, my views on the riots are clear. They’re wrong, they’ve got to stop and they’ve got to stop immediately. The media, the West in particular, have over-exaggerated these riots and even the government of SYRIA have “warned their citizens about entering Turkey.” Imagine that, the “government” of Syria, they never fail to make me laugh. These riots are not that bad, we’ve seen worse. If people want democracy they’ve got to negotiate in a democratic way. Burning down buildings and interfering with peoples peace is not democratic

Aysegul Gurbuz, A2 Politics Student.

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14 Comments

  1. Protest is the only tool of the people; riots that have been going on for so long now, by so many, in so many places, and are finally attracting the attention of the trade unions surely shows the opinion of a large group of the population. I’d say that a mass riot is the most democratic thing of all, and in fact they were considered a political tool in the Roman Republic. Those guys knew their democracy, so I’m told.

    • Protest is not the only tool of democracy & if you read it properly I did mention that I understood and respected the aim behind people protesting for Gezi Park. However, these riots have now become ideological. The thing about Erdogan is that he’s reintroducing Islam and he’s making references to the Ottoman Empire with many things, for instance the new bridge to be built in Istanbul is named after an Ottoman Sultan. What the protesters can’t handle is that itself. It’s very hard to explain cos I haven’t witnessed such a split elsewhere. People that claim they are from the Ottomans are completely different to those who abide by Ataturk. and this is the main reason why people are out on the streets, they want Ataturk’s policies to be reintroduced.

  2. I could not disagree more with what you wrote and comments. The people demonstrating on the streets are ordinary people like you and me. I have been raised completely apolitical but for once in my life I have been outraged when I saw the police force burning the tents of a handful of young people, peacefully demonstrating at a park. Demonstrating and protesting are part of our constitution and no one was breaking any law. But the police force attacked them with such an inappropriate force so that people got killed, they lost their eyes, had to go to the hospitals with broken ribs, arms and what have you.This was the boiling point for those who have been quietly accepting any laws, regulations etc implemented by the government for the last decade. The people want their voice to be heard! Nothing more…

    Regarding the bridge..I think you should not misguide people..The reason why people are angry about the name of the bridge has to do with the fact that the Sultan’s name proposed for the bridge is Yavuz Sultan Selim, who is considered as the Symbol of Alevi annihilation. Please see for further information.

    http://www.bianet.org/english/politics/147009-selim-the-grim-is-the-symbol-of-alevi-annihilation

    • Ok so. As I mentioned, police brutality is accepted and I’m not sure if you saw Erdogan speak yesterday but he did mention that they would be dealing with that issue. Also, police force was not used in Trabzon, where protestors left peacefully. Neither was it used at Ataturk Airport yesterday when AKP supporters and Erdogan’s supporters in general went to welcome him after his trip to North Africa. You’re wrong. No one has died from police brutality. Rather people have died due to substances thrown by the protestors. Oh also, one police officer has died as well. Did he kill himself? I don’t think so.

      Moreover, I don’t remember mentioning the bridge in my post. However, I’d like to make it clear that I am solidly against the government naming it Yavuz Sultan Selim as I agree, naming it after a Sultan who killed so many Alevis is unacceptable. All Erdogan has done is lost more votes and further deepened the ideological split.

      Lastly, I don’t understand why “police brutality” has become such a massive issue. I mean we see riots like this everywhere in the world? And in my own experience I haven’t seen the police act any differently.

  3. FACT #1-THE TWO DEMONSTRATORS WERE KILLED BY THE POLICE, THEY HAVE NOT KILLED EACH OTHER. PLEASE READ FOLLOWING

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/04/world/europe/turkey-protests.html?_r=0

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/04/abdullah-comert-2nd-turkish-protester-killed_n_3383092.html

    I also send you a clear video which shows that ONE OF THE protestors was killed by the police tank whereas the other was hit by the police (as explained above, first article)

    http://www.izlemex.org/toma-nin-vatandasimizi-ezdigi-o-an-paylas/

    FACT #2-THE POLICE, WHO WAS KILLED DURING THE PROTESTS; HE WAS NOT KILLED BY THE PROTESTORS BUT HE FELL INTO AN UNDERPASS, WHICH WAS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION AS ALSO CONFIRMED BY GOVERNMENT REPS.

    http://news.yahoo.com/official-police-officer-dies-turkey-protest-104532661.html

    I also send you the same news from a completely right winged newspaper in Turkey (so unfortunately in Turkish only), so you can make sure

    http://www.zaman.com.tr/dunya_sehit-komiser-mustafa-sari-icin-valilikte-toren-duzenlendi_2097850.html

    FACT #3- THERE HAVE BEEN NUMEROUS PROTESTS IN 78 OF 81 CITIES UN TURKEY AND AMONG THOSE ONLY 1 CITY WAS SAVED???

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Taksim_Gezi_Park_protests_in_Turkey

    FACT #4-THE “PROTESTORS” YOU WERE REFERRING TO AT THE AIRPORT TO CHEER ERDOGAN WERE OFF COURSE NOT TOUCHED. THIS GOES WELL WITH YOUR ESSAY’S TITLE I BELIEVE. THOSE WHO SUPPORT THE GOVERNMENT ARE FREE TO BLOCK A MAJOR AIRPORT AT 02.00 IN THE MORNING, WITHOUT ANY FORMAL OR LEGAL APPROVAL (PLEASE CHECK IF YOU CAN FIND ANYTHING) TO CHEER FOR ERDOGAN AND ARE NOT CONSIDERED AS THE “PROTESTORS”, WHEREAS AT THE SAME TIME THE POLICE WERE BUSY TEARGASING THOSE PROTESTORS IN ANKARA HEAVILY? I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOUR REFERENCE HERE-I THINK YOU SHOULD DIFFERENTIATE WHO THE “ PROTESTORS” ARE IN THIS DISCUSSION.

    FACT # 5-CHECK THESE PICTURES AND VIDEOS AND THEN PLEASE TELL ME THAT THIS BRUTALITY LOOKS LIKE ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD?? AND IT DOES NOT CHANGE THE FACT THE PEOPLE ARE RIGHTFULLY AGAINST THE BRUTALITY, IT DOES NOT MATTER WHERE THEY LIVE, IT IS NOTHING TO BE DEFENDED.

  4. Dictator:
    noun
    1.
    a person exercising absolute power, especially a ruler who has absolute, unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession.
    2.
    (in ancient Rome) a person invested with supreme authority during a crisis, the regular magistracybeing subordinated to him until the crisis was met.
    3.
    a person who authoritatively prescribes conduct, usage, etc.: a dictator of fashion.

    HAVE A LOOK AT THIS VERY BRIEF SUMMARY, WHICH WOULD BE DEEPLY INFORMATIVE

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/turkey/130603/erdogan-turkey-dont-be-dictator

  5. If you’re going to understand Turkish here watch this:

    and this to:

    watch this here:

    And also Gulen’s thoughts on the Gezi Park riots:

    oh read this too:

    http://www.zaman.com.tr/gundem_gosteriler-sirasinda-kopruden-atilan-cocuk-dehset-anlarini-anlatti_2098839.html

    What you need to realise is the park is OURS. All of ours. If 50% want it to remain as a park, 50% want to re-establish their history. So what’s the best way to solve this? Go to a referendum. Sorry I don’t have connections with Erdogan, otherwise I would’ve told him to do so.

    Also, your wrong about the terms. Haha, here have a watch of this and realise that the terms they want for negotiation benefit foreign powers more than anyone else.

    Canal Istabul, a new airport and the 3rd bridge. They’re the real problems.

  6. I don’t think you have managed to send me anything “non-subjective”.

    I could have easily send you speeches of those people against the regime of Erdogan but I have not, have I? I have refrained from this and send you the “FACTS” only…

    However, you have only sent me

    -a video from Yigut Bulut, who truly support Erdogan and his policies on a TV, which is owned ot Fettah Tamince, again who is a businessman very close to PM.

    -a video from the deputy of PM (I have explicitly asked you not to do this as I knew you were going to do that) 🙂

    -a video from Fetthulat Gulen, who is an right winged scholar and Islamist, obviously he would support Erdogan, (if you yourself want to believe in his sayinggs, fine, but you CAN NOT present these as an evidence?)

    -oh another video of Yigit Bulut (and if so, let’s find out who Yigit Bulut actually is (http://www.haber3.com/yigit-bulut-nereye-kosuyor–106100y.htm)

    So if you have a reliable source-honest, objective source..ANY…that you can defend what you write, I am more than happy to listen, hear and learn…

    I was sincerely interested of your view and was trying to understand your source of knowledge-but I see that there is no real information here… you only believe in what you are TOLD other than what is true??

    Being a political sciences student yourself. I was expecting more maybe, my bad!

  7. If I was to believe what I was told I would’ve been at Gezi Park today protesting.

    Okay, here you are, another point of view:

    http://haber.stargazete.com/guncel/gezi-parkinda-neler-oluyor/haber-761284/?ref=facebookmedia

    This is the problem. We can go round in circles if we just talk about the facts. What needs to be investigated are THE REASONS why people have poured themselves onto the streets. And your comments about Fetullah Gulen, read further about him and find out why he’s in America 😉

    There is no such thing as “obviously he’s going to support him.” I’m a moderate socialist, but I’m able to support a moderate conservative leader- I’m not saying I agree with everything he says, but in this situation he hasn’t done anything wrong.

    Yigit Bulut is actually married to a MHP supporter, another example of bipartisanship?

    This is a blog, and I’m expressing my own views. If it were a history blog I would’ve provided you with nothing but facts.

    People claim there are no human rights in Turkey, but they’re wrong. This is the era which the majority of the people in Turkey have been granted basic civil liberties. Prohibiting alcohol sales is not an infringement of human rights. He isn’t saying YOU CAN’T DRINK.

    Anyway, as I say, Turkey has seen worse. We’ll get over this, it’s due to both sides to negotiate, obviously it cannot be done alone.

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