On October 5, President Erdogan held an election rally, not on home ground in Turkey, but Strasbourg, France. After prayers led by an imam, the president of what theoretically is the only secular state in the Middle East, launched into belligerent diatribe designed to rouse the 12 000 Turks who had come in from neighbouring countries. Complete with sound and light effects, the crowd, cordoned off with males on one side and bescarfed females on the other, egged him on to cries of “Allah u Akbar”. Had the enemy he was thundering against been ISIS, Turkish presence as a member of NATO in a fellow NATO country could have had some form of legitimacy. But here the target of his wrath was no less that one third of his own population, namely the Kurds and members of the HDP opposition party, in fact those he described in his speech as being All those who wish to separate from us‘. Then he uttered an ominous threat: we will make sure they live regret it.
One wonders if someone had actually listened to the premonitory words spoken in Strasbourg last week. This was a true call to war made on European soil. The next day, King Philip of Belgian personally awarded him the highest decoration, the Order of Leopold, no less. Nobody batted an eyelid or caught the irony of the situation: the most celebrated king to reign by that name was Leopold II, notorious for having murdered some 10 million Congolese natives which he had reduced to slavery in the infamous Congo Free State. Portentous, to say the least.
The careful planning of the massacre that took place only six days later, during a peace rally in Ankara, shows that the Turkish president really meant business, as promised. The images are horrific: one moment we see angelic young people, dancing and singing, passionately believing that peace can return to their great country. Then flashes of fire, explosions, the IPhones starts shaking, fast forward to blood and corpses. Over a hundred dead (some say 130), countless wounded (over 500). Eyewitnesses reported that the police attacked the distraught crowd with tear gas and shooting, preventing the ambulances reaching the scene of the crime. As usual, Twitter and Facebook were blocked.
As can be expected, the Turkish government is blaming the PKK, just as it did last time after the comparable attack at Suruç where over thirty youths were slaughtered whilst preparing to bring toys over to Kobane , just over the border.
Each time, the youngest, the best, the most hopeful Turkish citizens are targeted, those who are united in opposing Erdogan’s neo-liberal, quasi-fundamentalist Weltanschaung. Itis ironic that the only ones to be defending the secular, egalitarian Kemalist legacy are those Ataturk himself once opposed, that is to say the Kurds and their allies.
In the meantime, world leaders, from Obama to Putin and all in between all dutifully phoned Erdogan to offer their condolences, Surely condolences should have been extended to the HDP behind this rally? […]
Read the article in full here.