Culture of fear, hate and denial= Santoro, Dink, Malatya


Friday, May 11, 2007

Orhan Kemal Cengiz

I will be very straight forward from the outset. I fear that (I whole heartedly wish to be wrong), it is very possible that these murders will continue. Murders may take a different path targeting different people from different circles but, unfortunately, it seems that they will continue. It is really painful to say something like this. It hurts making such an annoying speculation. But unfortunately, three strong wake up calls were not enough for the Turkish society and the government to be alarmed and reflect upon what is going on in Turkey.

If we look at the anatomy of these murders (Santaro, Dink and the Malatya massacres) we see the following common denominators:

They were committed by very young people; in two incidents the perpetrators were even younger than 18. The perpetrators are ultra-nationalist and they believe they did what they did to save the country. They acted in gangs. In all cases security forces had some intelligence and prior knowledge about the perpetrators and their plans, but some how they did not follow up onthe signals and warnings. Before each incident there had been relentless campaigns against the victims in nationwide and local media. No criminal charge was brought against any of these hate speech campaigns or their campaigners. Inall three cases these young people have some elder brothers who have some other relations.

My theory is very simple. What we are confronting in Turkey is a new phenomenon. We have gangs all over the country who are organized in a kind of al-Qaeda model, which means that they have unity of ideology (racistultra-nationalism) but they are not directly connected to any one single center. They are open to manipulation and they are manipulated by some circles that have links with the illegal paramilitary groups.

These gangs are operating within and feed from an atmosphere of fear, hate and denial. To understand what exactly is going on in Turkey weneed to look at the different layers, which are linked together and reinforce each other.

First of all, we have a general atmosphere of fear created by many different political and bureaucratic circles and sometimes by the media:Turkey will be fragmented. We are encircled by external and internal enemies.The EU will cause the disintegration of Turkey. Turkey is being invaded by foreigners. Missionaries occupy Turkey . Opposing reforms and the joining the EU has become a dominant factor used in the creation of this fear.

We also have a general atmosphere of denial and nonconfrontation: These murders were planned and commissioned by foreign intelligence services. Some external sources are provoking these young peoplein order to destabilize Turkey. We do not have a Kurdish problem; the only problem we have is terror. There was no Armenian genocide; it is imposed on us by Western powers. External enemies etc…

There are relentless hate speech campaigns reproduced everyday in Turkey. There had been a lot of news, comments and notes about the victims before they were killed. Local media have a special role in these public information campaigns.

Has anything changed in Turkey since these murders were committed? Nothing actually. We have the same interior minister who is untouchable. We have the same statesmen who declared that anyone who does not say how happy he is for being Turk is the enemy of Turkey. Hate speech campaigns by the press, media and countless of web servers continue. These websites keep targeting intellectuals and academics on a daily basis, and they face no charges. No gang members have been arrested.

I will finish this hopelessly pessimistic article with a gloomy comment. If there is a serious danger in Turkey now it is not Islam or Sharia but it is extreme nationalism (From Turks and Kurds), racism, intolerance, xenophobia, hatred of other religions and you know what happens when they allcome together. A quote from the Supreme Court of Canada: “the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers. It began with words. These are the chilling facts of history -the catastrophic effects of racism.”


International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms ofRacial Discrimination

Article I

In this Convention, the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

See you next week with hopefully encouraging news!