Turkey: From Gezi Resistance To Coup d’état


A few weeks after the dawn of the third anniversary of the Gezi resistance (uprising), the popular non-violence movement spreads countrywide in 2013, and the people of Turkey have had an experience the “military coup”.  Hundreds were dead, thousands were arrested and put behind bars.

The leaders around the world rushed to condemn those conspirators behind the coup while enhancing support to President Erdogan. None of them seem to have a sense of what the majority of people in Turkey were facing. Some of them seemed to be deliberately blinding themselves to those sensitive areas for the sake of “good-will” diplomacy.

Within a matter of minutes of the coup being declared unharmed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was directing party supporters to come to the streets in large numbers.  A few hours later, he came out of the hotel where he was staying and declared victory against conspiracy while receiving trumpeting messages from all around the world against the “military coup”.  Those messages were pleasing and hailing the “heroic role” in restoring “democracy”, played by President Erdogan.

Alas…! Where can those who know the true colours of President Erdoğan go from here?  What will happen to the true seeds planted by the democratic protestors through the series of uprisings? Will the ruling parties continue their brutal crackdown on the dissidents?

Reports indicated that the government arrested over five thousand people while killing dozens of unarmed protesters during the Gazi protests in 2013.  It was a countrywide protest in which around 3.5 million people joined hands against the “comparative authoritarian regime”. But the then Prime Minister Erdoğan and his ruling party members along with the security forces successfully cracked down the protests.

Three years after this Gezi resistance, the country experienced the “military coup”.  An hour after the coup, President Erdoğan blamed an exiled politician for instigating and planning the coup. Fethullah Gülen, a reclusive cleric, politician, writer and activist was blamed by the President who urged US authorities to deport him to the country for prosecution.

But, while talking to the media Gülen, who is accused of being a CIA mole, has strongly rejected the allegation, and hints that the whole drama may have been staged by President Erdoğan and his team.

Allegations and counter allegations are merely filling media space, but without influencing the immediate manifestation of outcome of the attempt to overthrow the government. What is important here is that to understand the real beneficiary of the event. He is none other than, the President Erdoğan. Who he described the failed coup as “a gift from the God”.

However, the infantile strategies followed by the coup leaders not only seemed strange but they also seem to amuse the ruling parties and influenced them to win points.

According to the reports, what was seen to have happened during the coup seems to be what exactly President Erdoğan was looking for – so as to get rid of his political rivals causing him difficulties. Mass arrests including arrests of thousands of judges, prosecutors and other activists, which is still continuing are indicative of the real purpose of the government and the imminent threats faced by the people in common. In other words, this has strengthened ruling methods of what is known as the “comparative authoritarian regime”, while assassinating the opportunities available to the opposition and social reformists.

Will any leader urge for accountability and transparency in the courtrooms where those arrested citizens would be prosecuted by President Erdoğan’s team?

Will any leader urge the President to restore the freedom of expression and assembly of the People that has been seriously damaged?

Will any leader urge the President to take remedial action to make up for the action by him to crack down on media freedom?

Will any leader urge the President to release those outspoken activists and journalists from the cages?

Will any leader urge the President to compensate those who were kicked out from their jobs merely because they expressed their independent views?

There are passionate discussions and dramatic restructuring activities towards institutional reforms going on among interested parties in the country, over the past few years. These have taken many political issues into account and encouraged people, in general, to fight for democracy on the basis of true principles and values. This has been creating a very strong movement to diagnose sickness of the deteriorated administrative system in the country. This movement was putting to shambles, the governing politics of the ruling parties while creating strong grounds for social reforms.

But, unfortunately, the Coup has gifted the opportunity to eliminate this very idea of social reforms and has compressed the space of genuine dissidents.  Therefore President Erdogan is emerging as the man who has the last laugh. But what has been buried underneath is intriguing.  Speculations are roaming around with about the greater danger of future politics in Turkey.

All greater victories are always followed by fatal forfeits where the greedy politicians’ days are numbered. Failed coup has put the people in general on a long trudge to freedom while creating a situation to consolidate more power to exercise the legitimised arbitrariness of Erdoğanian democracy.

Nilantha Ilangamuwa edits the Sri Lanka Guardian, an online daily newspaper, and he also an editor of the Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives, bi-monthly print magazine. He is the author of the just released non-fictions, “Nagna Balaya” (The Naked Power), in Sinhalese and “The Conflation”, in English. He can be reached at [email protected]

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