Thoughts following the Catalan Declaration of Independence

Today is a historical day in many aspects. We will test (although a modified version of) the democratic peace theory. We will test if the EU really has values which shape politics, not that politics shape the values (or lead to temporary and changeable values). We will test the clash between legality and legitimacy. And we will see if a developed country can get into armed conflict (i.e. any sort of civil war or large-scale suppression as we see in Turkey, for example).

First let us look at the main hypocrisy. While supporting Kosovo in their declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, today the big guy of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that the EU “doesn’t need any more cracks, more splits”1. Why did they support Kosovo, and why are they against Catalonia? In 2008, there was no immediate problem in Kosovo so that independence would be vital or highly necessary, as is not the case today (which is not to say that there was the prospect of a long-lasting peace in Kosovo, as there is not in Bosnia and Herzegovina today). Why having a “value” yesterday which is different than today?

Do Human Rights Actually Exist?

“… one reason why governments found it possible to accept the principle of international concern for human rights [the Universal Declaration of Human Rights] was the expectation that the UN would respect the domestic jurisdiction of states by refraining from intervention in their internal affairs. The declaration, which lacks provisions for implementation and in any event does not have the legal force of a treaty, was compatible with this expectation: it professes to state ‘a common standard of aspiration,’ not a set of enforceable commitments”1.

We like to talk about human rights a lot, but we do not know what should be done when a country does not fulfill its duty and respect the rights of its citizens. The problem, as things stand, and as detailed as I can put, is this:

  1. Every human being has inalienable rights.
  2. Because of the existing world-system, there exists states.
  3. Every human being is FORCED TO have a citizenship, i.e. a legally binding relationship, with (at least) one of these states.
  4. Theoretically we assume that we need states for order and security. Therefore states are assumed to protect (first and foremost) bodily integrity of its citizens.
  5. Yet, as mentioned at #1, human beings have more than only the right to life.
  6. The states are supposed to not only protect but also provide each and every right human beings have.

Further and Possibly Larger Scale Suppression of the Opposition in Turkey

On the anniversary of the so-called coup attempt and newly invented “day of democracy and national unity“, so-called Turkish President Erdogan said “we lost 250 heroes in the night of 15 July [coup attempt], but saved the future of 50 million Turks“. According to Turkstat, population of Turkey in 2016 was 79.814.871, excluding Syrian refugees and immigrants who are to be given citizenship as long as 5 years have passed since their entry to Turkey, regardless of any other criteria.

Erdogan is famous with making strange comments and arguments. Generally, next day these are followed with corrections by the members of the cabinet or the party. They do not argue that Erdogan was wrong, but we, opponents of him, got him wrong. Yet this time there still is no correction, which makes us believe that we are discarded, or sacrificed, already.

Whenever we the opposition ask for rights, we are constantly warned that we aim to break a civil war up, and we should stop being the puppets or puppies of external powers. Turkey and Turkish society, for a long time, has been divided into two camps: those that want the good of the country and the people (i.e. supporters of Erdogan), and the others (i.e. opponents of him).

Terrorist Human Rights Defenders

On June 5th12 human rights workers were detained while they were “holding a secret meeting” in Buyukada, Istanbul, which includes Amnesty International’s Turkey director Idil Eser. Many individuals and organizations asked for their release, yet as of June 13, they still are under detention. According to T24, a Turkish news website, the detainees were accused of terrorism.

This, apparently, is news for many outsiders. But for us, opponents of the current Turkish government who are politically active, there is no news here. I want to show you two legal bases and the basic approach in the state, on how these people are kept under detention, and highly likely they will remain there at least for some months, if not years.

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