Sep 292015
 

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan99GetSmart

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The Turkish educational system suffers yet another blow; after last year’s signaling of a lifestyle indoctrination by President Erdoğan, this year’s new rules and regulations update seems to target the students’ future experiences and uses of free speech and questioning capacity. President Erdoğan had said “We have a problem with certain things, still. Thus we will tackle those problematic feelings by presenting [children with] a lifestyle, starting from as early as kindergarten onward.”

He had been talking about how the educational system was working in favor of “traitors” thus this was an open call for educational experts to work on new precautions to stop treason. The new rules and regulations that all children at school between the ages of 7 and 18 are subjected to now are as follows:

  • “National Values” is a recognized criteria that requires all pupils to comply with national and spiritual values; as well as present behaviors that follow general morality and customs. Failure in compliance results in expulsion from school.
  • Separatist, destructive, immoral, pro-violence content in the form of audio, textual, visual, video material will bring ultimate expulsion from school and the pupil will not be accepted back to schools anymore.
  • Students will only be allowed to miss 30 school days throughout the year; those who wish to become hafiz will not be required to comply with the 30 day limit.
  • Students who indulge in IT tools without the knowledge and control of the teacher will get disciplinary punishment.
  • Students who pester classmates through social media will get ultimate expulsion from school.
  • Students who share visual material that is shot at school, will be sent to disciplinary board.

In December 2014 President Erdoğan had accused the educational system of training individuals who are departing from their mother tongue and are ashamed of their society and culture; defined this as a national problem of training and discipline. After the national elections on June 7, 2015, the opposition parties all demanded to take ministry of education to reverse the harm done during the single party rule of AKP in the past 13 years, regarding the curricula and rules & regulations that are applied to children. The current system of national education in Turkey dictates a way of life and ideology.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Mar 072014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

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Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

Recently in an article, Gigi Alford wrote “Russia goes for gold in internet regulation,” and I was going to suggest that Turkey is a close runner-up. However Erdoğan made a comment that raised the hopes of “censorists” in Turkey for the top place in the Censor’Olympics – Russia being the biggest competition. In the past few weeks, we have suffered the adoption into law of two major draconian bills that allow government censorship and surveillance on society. But recent remarks by Erdoğan go well beyond that, talking of blanket censorship.

Already Turkey is a country of heavy regulations regarding expression of opinion, with surveillance mechanisms profiling and labeling citizens according to their ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds. However, as Erdoğan has revealed his true intentions, apparently there will be no more need for profiling and labeling people. Perhaps after an initial trial of a few weeks, the results were too scary; perhaps there was actually a great majority of the country who are discontented with the government and the only way to stop this discontent from spreading would be to shut down the Internet.

In a country that was declared “partly free” even before the Occupy Gezi protests of last year, with the new regulations, implementations, and intentions of the government, it seems as if Turkey will make it to the “not free” list and take the gold medal in the Censor’Olympics!

Here are Erdoğan’s own words regarding social media from last night’s TV interview where he declared his intentions to ban all social media platforms in the aftermath of local elections on March 30th, when mass protests are expected to take place and the National Security Council has already granted permission to declare martial law in case of widely spread mass protests in the country:

“We are determined on this subject. We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook and other kinds [of social media]. We will take the necessary steps in the strongest way. That includes banning them. Because these corporations/institutions encourage all kinds of immorality, spying, and espionage in order to keep making profits. There are no limits [on social media]; freedom must not be understood in an unlimited sense. These people exist in all state institutions as well, but our initial step is to remove them from their administrative boards, because once they are gone the process will go smoothly to lower levels. Afterwards, the true meaning of fear will hold them captive! Then they will start wondering where they will flee to. When their leaders are gone, they will all feel the fear…”

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Jul 032013
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

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Submitted by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan, from Istanbul

20 years ago today, 37 people were burned alive in Sivas, in Turkey. They were mere intellectuals who gathered in a Madimak hotel for a conference. Among them were bards, poets, novelists, artists, scientists, philosophers… Islamist extremists had protested their presence in the city of Sivas, saying there were people who had cited Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and spread atheist ideals among the crowd. While hundreds of intellectuals had decided to gather in the name of “Anatolian Peace and Welcoming” there, thousands surrounded them with absolute hatred. When police and gendarmerie forces did not intervene, over ten thousand extremists who had already come to the hotel area with flammable chemicals and other supplies for arson, set the hotel on fire when many were inside with very low chances of escape.

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Dozens of people died, many others were saved, a nation was left traumatized, and the perpetrators were never punished. Over two decades, civil society called for recognition of this crime by the state, an official apology from those who were responsible for the police/gendarmerie/firefighter inaction, a guarantee that those who organized, carried out, and covered up this crime would be punished. None of those things happened. A massive literature piled up on the event from all artistic and academic fields.

Today, across the country, Gezi protesters continue their struggle and include the massacre of Sivas in 1993. Last year when the court decided not to investigate the massacre any longer, PM Erdogan commented about the perpetrators being freed without any punishment, saying “this is all the best for the country.” The lawyers who defended the case against the victims do not seem to resent the fact that they defended a massacre. Many others who were involved in this crime have been promoted to high positions over the years, including many of the lawyers from Islamist parties getting elected into parliament, including eight current AKP deputies.

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As Erdogan keeps referring to his apology as head of government for the 1938 Dersim massacre, he still resists apologizing for the Sivas massacre or the Uludere air raid that left 35 people dead two years ago. The expectations are optimistic that someday there will be recognition of all the crimes committed against civilians while state officials organized/ordered/protected the perpetrators. Yet the chances that justice will prevail seem low. While this has been settled on as a demand of many millionsto see justice, many others, unofficially mobilized by AKP youth, continue glorifying the massacres and continue to threaten in the name of religion.

On the day when people were being burned alive, someone in the hotel Madimak asked “What happens if they hurt some of us?” and was answered by Metin Altiok – a poet who died as a result of the Sivas Massacre – “Survivors will write poems of the fallen…”

Rifat Ilgaz wrote:

“Pharaohs broke the clay tablets in Egypt. Hitler’s armies burned down libraries in Europe. Look here, intellectuals! For the first time in history they filled a building with intellectuals and set them on fire!”

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NYTimes, July 03, 1993, 40 Killed in a Turkish Hotel Set Afire by Muslim Militants: http://www.nytimes.com/1993/07/03/world/40-killed-in-a-turkish-hotel-set-afire-by-muslim-militants.html

MORE STORIES by Gürkan Özturan @ http://radicaldemocrat.blog.com

PREVIOUS UPDATES: 

Turkey: Kurds’ Turn to Protest Government Violence @ http://99getsmart.com/turkey-kurds-turn-to-protest-government-violence/

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Jun 092013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

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Submitted by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Ö.  from Istanbul: 

Opinion of individuals from the ground are very important in such occasions. While the national and world media usually either does not represent or misrepresents the news, it is the people on the street tweeting and writing blogs, putting up videos that will really tell the world about this revolution. Some people find resemblances of the events in Istanbul and other cities to Tunisia, Libya, Egypt etc, yet the only common point is the organizational style (which is still the same in Iran, Russia, Germany, Sweden, Spain,etc…) as it is the most commonly used method of communication today, the social media.

Turkish spring may actually be a Turkish summer, a step ahead spring; yes many people are against the failing system, people ask for a better democracy and more respect to human rights including recognition of all rights (be it minority rights, environmental rights, animal rights, etc). The one common denominator today is that people are asking not only for immediate cease to destruction of environment but also new faces, new ideas, new working system, in order to prevent any future concentration of power – which, in the long run, harms the “others” of the system.

For long years, the mainstream’s “others” have been the Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, Islamists, Alevites, and most recently the Republicans … (alongside may other identities). The day has come to the point where there is no individual left without a rancour against the system that declared him/herself as an enemy. While population in general is uneasy about the developments of recent years, most people were abiding by the system simply because there was no way out for them.

The Media

The bosses have to stand on the side of the government in order to operate in the country or in export / import related businesses. This part is beyond corruption; as government reserves the power of Treasury at her disposal, whenever a boss deviates from the major-plans for the government and give chance to opposition voices in media or other platforms, officials of the treasury raid the accountants of that particular businessperson and write a fine of billions of euros. AfterAydin Dogan was made an example of, no other media-king could ever allow opposition voices be heard on TV, and smaller media-only businesses were fined for any reason. While most businesses in Turkey might still be non-compliant with EU regulations and standards, it was especially the non-governmental businesses that were forced the most, and in this situation of inequality, only government-friendly businesses would grow and get bigger.

Over the years, most media barons left their business to government related business people and the situation was the absolute silence we have seen throughout, if not for the disinformatary broadcast, accusing the protesters of crimes committed by undercover policemen, events that took place years ago and directly turning prime minister’s accusations into “facts”. Moreover, as most of the country does not use internet, a seriously dangerous number of people still have no idea what has been going on and why. The only thing they see on the news usually is “the terrorists that we have always known, this time in our city center”.

In the event of this camera being pulled away to have a clearer focus on the penguins of Antarctica, the Turkish penguins were marching on the streets and defending their rights peacefully, until the police raided in an all-out-attack. It is seriously worrisome because the reporters were told that if they broadcast or report anything that would harm government’s credibility, they would lose their jobs; the police were told that if they cannot stop the protests with all they have, at whatever cost, they would lose their jobs. Also the police being manipulated into losing their minds is another factor in this violence; as serious psychological games are in place to control their behavior and make them more violent towards protesters (see the nightly report from 9-6).

So, in that sense, the only real representation of the events would be clearly from the street, and unlike media reporters from various backgrounds, tweeters, bloggers, video-channel admins show the events as they see and their number brings about a significant accuracy to events. On the street there are many groups bringing live information to all of us, the socialists, communists, nationalists, anarchists, capitalists, greens, pirates, islamists, feminists, homosexuals, football fan-clubs (which have a completely deeper meaning than just the game in Turkey), all kinds of ethnic groups from Turks, Kurds, Armenians, Pontians, Greeks, Jews, Assyrians, Circassians, Bulgarians, etc. to international visitors and residents of Istanbul who are against all kinds of oppression and can stand with a univocal voice for liberties. The groups that were thought never to be able to stand facing each other without harming one another stood shoulder to shoulder, demanding a fair system where no one is marginalized by the mainstream and no “one” power can hold any other control mechanism hostage, simply by the voter support behind it.

What we have seen throughout the last decade in Turkey has been the failure of famous “checks-and-balances” through over-concentration of power, sacrificing democracy for the sake of prosperity (of a few). In the years to come, as this nation has seen the shortcomings of a neo-liberal authoritarian government’s deeds, people would not wait too long to once again voice their demands and put the last brakes on an uncontrolled force that might have taken over all guards against any kind of possible collapse, except for the hearts and minds of the people.

None could have imagined that a country so differentiated between several aspects of the society would unite so well and demand peace and liberty, and only around a green leaf that no longer covers the shame of oppressors.

MORE STORIES by Gürkan Ö. @ http://radicaldemocrat.blog.com

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