The Preventable Death of Hrant Dink: Ultra-Nationalist Hysterics and the Political Leaders who Have Appeased Them


HRANT DINK
MAN OF PEACE MURDERED BY ULTRA-NATIONALIST FANATICS
REST IN PEACE
REMEMBER HIM BY PRESERVING LIBERTY, DEMOCRACY AND LAW FROM THEIR ENEMIES
MAKE HIS DEATH COUNT
End the Appeasement of Ultra-Nationalism
Repeal Article 301 and all laws which Criminalise Political and Historical Discussion
Push the Ultra-Nationalists into the Political Wilderness
State and Political Leaders must totally Separate themselves from Ultra-Nationalism


The fourth post I wrote for this blog was on the ‘The Nationalist Upsurge in Turkey’
where I emphasised the harassment of Hrant Dink, through the courts and outside court buildings through the despicable campaign of hatred mounted by hysterical ultra-nationalist lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz. I certainly do not accuse Kerincsiz, or other leaders and manipulators of ultra-nationalist hysteria, of connection with the murder. I do accuse them of creating an atmosphere of hysteria through their harassment in a country where political violence has been all too frequent. In the context in which which extreme political divisions have led to violence, including murder, the possible consequences of Kerincsiz’ hysteria campaign is all too obvious. He is guilty of knowingly, deliberately and calculatingly, creating an atmosphere in which the chances of Dink’s murder was increased.

I emphasised in my earlier post that Kerancsiz’ hysteria campaign was being tolerated by the state and by the mainstream political parties. Kerancsiz is a member of the ultra-nationalist Nationalist Action Party; though the party has cleaned up its act in the last 10 years, under the leadership of Devlet Bahceli, after a long period of involvement in political violence, they did nothing to restrain Kerincsiz. Though they did not directly endorse his hysteria campaign, they have clearly benefited from the atmosphere of hatred and tension raising that Kerancsiz has created.

When the AKP (a conservative party rooted in Islamism which now defines itself as Conservative Democrat, on a Christian democratic model) came to power, the new Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was greeted by many liberal-left intelligentsia in Turkey, and by many foreign observers, as a great reformer and enemy of the hard core statist-nationalist old guard in Turkey. Where has Erdogan been in opposing Kerancsiz? What was done to stop Kerancsiz from turning the court room and the court steps into a theatre hatred and hysteria? What did Erdogan, Prime Minister and leader of Turkey’s largest party, do against this? Nothing. Does Erdogan wish to repeal article 301 of the Penal Code, criminalising ‘insults against Turkey, which was used against Dink and many others? No. Article 301 gives legal and state sanction to idea that the individual can be punished for criticising the nation. It is fundamental to the hysteria campaign of Kerincsiz who frequently uses it to bring prosecutions. It’s time for Erdogan to behave like a modernist conservative democrat, and not just try to talk like one.

The largest opposition party in Turkey is the Republican People’s Party, a social democratic party which is a member of the Socialist Internationalist. Has it demanded the repeal of 301? No. Have they opposed ultra-nationalist ideology? While many members of the party are consistently opposed to ultra-nationalist hysteria, leading members have endorsed intolerant attitudes, for example on the question of a free discussion about the 1915 deportation and massacre of Armenians. It was Dink’s insistence on claiming that this should labelled ‘genocide’ that started his troubles. I’ve always argued against such an interpretation, but it is a question to be settled by free discussion. The laws, like 301, which criminalise free discussion, have contributed to the atmosphere in which Dink was defined as an enemy of Turkey who deserved to be murdered. When I meet RPP members, they like claim the party is a modernist party based on human rights and political freedom. The time has come to act, not just talk. Has the RPP leader, Deniz Baykal opposed the Nationalist Action Party? No, he is seeking to bring them into a coalition government. Has he condemned Kerincsiz? No. Has he demanded the repeal of 301? No.


ECONOMIC AND STATE CONTEXT

Those who committed the murder are very likely rather pathetic individuals, people who know very little about Turkish politics, and even less about the world outside Turkey, except the ‘knowledge’ that Turkey has enemies who ought to die. Probably people from low income and low education backgrounds dependent on god fathers and distributors of patronage who fill them with ultra-nationalist fanaticism. They have probably seen all kinds of injustice in their life, and are conditioned to blame it on national enemies, traitors, and liberal appeasement, no doubt aware that many liberals and liberal democrats, on the centre right and the centre left, in Turkey are part of a system of patronage and corruption. However pathetic, they must pay for what they have done. However, if all that happens is that they get life in prison, nothing will have been achieved to improve Turkey. The pseudo-nationalists will have won, they will have preserved and entrenched a system of patronage, clientalism, favouritism, corruption, mafia criminality, and protectionism which keeps Turkish people poor but enables the people at the head of these activities to be rich. I’ve met some radical left and democratic people in Turkey who deny the problems of corruption in Turkey. These are people who benefit from party patronage, or from well intentioned international subsidies for NGOs, the problem is not just with the stereotypical ultra-nationalist apes, it is also with apparently civilised, intellectual and democratic people. All the people who benefit from these distortions find that distributing patronage will create loyal and pathetic clients, very likely the status of those who murdered Dink. The real planners will have kept themselves distant of creating tension within Turkey, and between Turkey and the international community. The international Armenian lobby has already jumped onto the murder of Dink, though Dink strongly criticised Armenians who put anti-Turkish lobbying above positive action to improve Armenian conditions, in Armenia itself and for Armenians everywhere. While we must sympathise with the sincere horror that Armenians throughout the world will feel at this murder, we must note the risk that this will turn into a campaign of ant-Turkish hysteria creating further nationalist hysteria in Turkey. The godfathers will have succeed in their gaols unless…..


MAKE A DECISION FOR REFORM AND AGAINST BACKWARDNESS

The political and state leadership in Turkey has announced its intention of bringing Turkey up to international standards with regard to political freedoms and human rights. They have failed to do so. They have failed to challenge ultra-nationalism. Leaders must must accept responsibility for the atmosphere in which Dink was murdered. They must atone. Public opinion and leaders of all kind must see this as the moment to make a definitive break with ultra-nationalism and to to make the rule of law, freedom of speech and tolerant democracy supreme.

We shall attempt to raise our national culture above the level of contemporary civilization. Therefore, we think and shall continue to think not according to the lethargic mentality of past centuries, but according to the concepts of speed and action of our century. We shall work harder than in the past.
Kemal Ataturk, Speech on the 10th Anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s