On December 29, 2011, warplanes struck and killed thirty-five Turkish, many of them high school students and all of them civilians. The attack was based on drone-generated intelligence showing a group of people advancing along Turkey’s southeastern border with Iraq. The young men were smuggling products across the border. (click here for full text of an essay by Ayça Çubukçu; excerpt below.)
…Strikingly, neither the Turkish army nor the Turkish government has yet expressed anything resembling an official apology regarding the killing of the thirty-five Kurdish citizens. In telling contrast to his prompt and passionate denunciations of Israel’s “operational accidents” that kill Palestinian civilians, Prime Minister Erdoğan kept completely silent for more than twenty-four hours after the deadly operation by the Turkish Armed Forces. Furthermore, AKP spokesperson Hüseyin Çelik was quick to warn the [Kurdish political party] BDP—which has declared three days of mourning after the killings—not to “provoke” people to protest on the streets, or else “other people may also be harmed.” Such statements can only be received as threats in a country where citizens are arbitrarily detained, accused, and indefinitely imprisoned as suspected terrorists on a regular basis.
Only a few days ago, Interior Minister Idris Naim Şahin publicly redefined terrorism to encompass “artistic terrorism” and “scientific terrorism” along with terrorism’s poetic and journalistic kinds. In his description of how various members of civil society are supporting terrorism, the Interior Minister claimed:
“Maybe by reflecting it in their paintings. They write poems and reflect it in their poems. They write daily articles and columns about it. Not content with that, they are trying to demoralize the soldiers and police who fight against terrorism by making them the subjects of their artworks.”
While this description led some artists and activist to call for the Interior Minister’s resignation, he surely and securely remains in place. This political climate is perhaps best captured by one commentator’s sarcastic description of the situation in Turkey as an extremely infectious epidemic, whereby the population is inflicted with an ideologically transmitted disease (ITD) called terrorism. “Otherwise, how can we explain the large and growing number of terrorists in the country,” the author searchingly asks…