On April 16, Turkey held a referendum. Probably the first of its kind, the voters did not receive any questions. As well as approving Sultanate of Tayyip, they could have voted for a more effective global warming or to make America great again. One reaction to this referendum is priceless.
On May 29, Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe published the observation report regarding the referendum. 58 articles long, even if not detailed enough, this report covered issues from Turkish election system to referendum day and, overall, could have been a good report if it was not concluded with one of the most hypocritical conclusions I have ever read.
From #49 to #57, the rapporteur Mr Cezar Florin PREDA, tells us a number of violations and problems. To name some,
- There was an unequal playing field between the two sides #49),
- Freedom of assembly and expression were even more restricted (#50),
- With the lack of impartial and balanced information, the voters did not make an informed choice (#51),
- Especially the president equated “no” supporters with terrorists (#53),
- With the decrees, “no” supporting media was silenced (#54),
- Due to fear of persecution, not many international observers followed the referendum (#55).
But there is a bigger problem which accompanies these: according to the law, the ballots should be stamped or they should be counted invalid. The Supreme Board of Elections, all of a sudden, after voting finished and after counting started, decided to release “another decree” and override the law by counting the non-stamped ballots valid (#45).
Combined, the report tells us a simple thing: the referendum is illegal and illegitimate. But what is the conclusion of the report?
“The Parliamentary Assembly will continue to work alongside the authorities of Turkey in the field of elections and more generally on the reinforcement of democratic institutions” (#58).
A referendum, which is illegitimate and illegal, which changes the system of a country, which is the last step to be taken to divide the people the way that a civil war is definitely not avoidable, is welcomed with the above given sentence. Saying that there is illegality and illegitimacy all through, but willing to work with the government which, by this very act, becomes illegal and illegitimate, can be called all and only one thing:
In the end, EU’s locomotive Germany decided to take tougher stance against Turkey, following detention of Peter Steudtner, a human rights activist, with alleged links to terrorism. Steudtner is neither the first person nor the first foreigner detained with the same accusation. As I have written before, Turkish anti-terror law allows anyone to be accused and detained with links to terror, thanks to the second article, according to which one can commit terrorist acts even without being a member of a terrorist group.
I myself am in fear of persecution, and cannot return to Turkey because of the very article – not because I have committed any crimes, but because I am an opponent of the government, and not a silent one as you can see. For many years, we have been trying to tell international community that in Turkey, the level of oppression reached a historical high and no opponent is safe. The reason was that the country is a one-man state, not even a one-party state, for a long time. A one man who was supported by his current grand-enemies.
History, and Erdogan’s personality, shows that we have long passed the point in which tougher stance would make a difference. It was a decade ago, in 2007, if such a stance would make things better both for Turks and Germans, as well as others, when Erdogan said that Turkey is choosing its first Muslim president. If not then, 2008 was not a late date, when Erdogan was telling the world that old Turkey is dead and there is the New Turkey. Today, Erdogan has millions who are both indoctrinated and dependent on his existence.
Was this result not visible back then? To be honest, I believe that everything was visible as even I, a 21 year old student who was still learning, could foresee most of what has happened. The hypocrisy lead the European community, or rather the leaders, and Turks ended up with a bloodthirsty dictator and his millions of admirers. Thinking that the evil would not harm them, these leaders played a gamble and failed.
Is it so late to fix things? The answer, sadly, is yes. Yet there is still some little spark of hope left for the modern and humane Turks which are trapped in Turkey. There are millions who seek justice. Receiving the support of international community on the very fact that the government is illegitimate and illegal, and its isolation from the modern world, would be a good start. We are certain that Turkey, as it is now, cannot exist for even half a decade. The country needs to be divided, and the opponents are alone and weak now. The government, at the first instance, will be happy to massacre many to put into silence the rest forever.
Before this happens, I hope that those who argue to be the defenders of human rights, rule of law, and democracy will realize that the time to defend these values in Turkey has already passed, and we all will benefit if what is said will be done. Otherwise three consequences are inevitable:
- Syrian refugee crisis will be nothing compared to Turkish refugee crisis which, actually, started in a very small scale in 2016.
- Erdogan likes to destroy whatever he can. And his admirers in Europe will take as much as they can while he will be going.
- More than the cases of post-Yugoslavia in 90s or Ukraine/Crimea 2014, the hypocrisy will be seen by so many more millions in the world, and the so-called protected and upheld values will be destroyed forever, including by Europeans themselves.
I hope, in the end, Germany, and with its leadership the EU, will decide not to be hypocritical and tell Turkish government what it is. Or we will watch so many things, places, and people crash and burn in a really near future.
(This post was previously shared at WordPress)