The Kobane in Syria’s Kurdish region has been resisting against ISIS for days and in the last days situation has been worsening due to ISIS advances. Civilians have been fleeing and taking refuge in Turkey, hundreds of thousands have been walking to Turkish border, leaving everything behind. Across Turkey, there have been solidarity-meetings with the participation of several political parties and civil society organizations. These rallies were being organized mainly by the Kurdish party HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party). Rallies turned into protests and then turned violent. Eventual result so far is declaration of curfew in 6 cities and -up until now- over 15 got killed.
The New Turkey
Before the August 10 Presidential election when Turkey voted on her president for the first time in history, the promise of President Erdoğan was “the New Turkey” where peace process would finally start blooming and fruiting to bring peaceful end to “Kurdish Question”, democratic rights would be granted and economic expansion would prevail. Looking at the first 50 days of New Turkey, one would not really see anything new really, except for a few new methods in violation of rights and liberties.
The New Turkey was going to be one free from military presence on its streets; as the president had said “military’s duty is at the borders, to protect the country against external enemies”, however not only did the police forces get militarized, but also tanks are strolling in the streets of several cities and even in Istanbul military gendarmarie forces are mobilizing in order to prevent any kind of solidarity protest for Kobane. To be fair, protesters are under bigger threat from anti-protestor mobs attacking with guns and police obviously has proven ineffective in preventing civilians exchange gun shots.
Istanbul’s Esenyurt District
When ISIS started offensive against Kobane, people used their right to defend themselves and resist against a possibly massacre. Yet, many people had to flee from the region and run away from the marching IS gangs. In September, hundreds of thousands of people were mobilized. For over a week, Turkey did not allow the border to be crossed. Protests had started taking place back then. As there was no permission to let civilians in, there emerged protests in major metropolis and especially in the predominantly Kurdish cities. Finally on the 19th of September, Turkey opened the border to allow civilians fleeing from ISIS siege on Kobane to take refuge.
Permission to intervene
A week after the border was opened for controlled passes, there came the discussion to allow Turkish military to intervene in the situation; at which stage the street-spirit changed form and turned into anti-war protests. On October 2nd, Turkish parliament voted on the permission to allow Turkish soldiers to intervene in Iraq and Syria against ISIS. By then the HDP refused to vote yes on the permission, alongside the Republican People’s Party CHP.
The irony in the permission is that currently the sides seem to have changed. When HDP organizes anti-ISIS protests and CHP silently seems to be approving of them, the Nationalist Movement Party MHP and ruling AKP have taken a stand against them, even though the latter two were the ones to approve of ground-forces military action against ISIS gangs.
Night of Clashes
The night of October 7 saw a long night of drifting back to darkness of 1980s and 1990s. Protests against ISIS started turning violent. There started emerging images and videos of cars and buildings being set on fire, Turkish flags being burned and Ataturk busts being torn down. However these images simultaneously appearing on media makes one feel like it is being staged; also with the knowledge of prior cases when National Intelligence Agency MIT agents were caught throwing molotov cocktails and provoking protests to turn them violent.
Yet, violent images might have served to a purpose, as several nationalist and islamist radical groups have taken to streets and started shooting at the protesters; especially after a piece of fake news stating that “the protesters are burning Quran on streets”.
Until the shootings it was the police handling the situation badly, and when more sides started clashing, then came curfew declarations and military started marching in to city centers in several cities in the east. This was not officially a declaration of martial law, or even state of emergency. Yet, when tanks are marching on streets, it does not take much to guess what it is, one does not need someone’s definition of the situation.
When anti-ISIS protesters were clashing with police forces on streets, pro-ISIS groups also took to streets and started assaulting on the other side. According to initial reports, around 15 people have been killed. And a dangerous declaration has been set in place today, calling for retaliation on the islamist organizations in Turkey. In the 1990s, Hezbollah in Turkey had been used against the PKK and thousands of people had died in shadowy clashes. This time it started fast and Kurdish groups have declared they will resist.
Turkish minister of interior affairs Efkan Ala also evaluated the protests and the violent surge. Ala declared that any type of violence will be met with multiplied violence. Ala also had the same method against Gezi Park protests in 2013 when he was an adviser of the prime minister on security issues; after which he got appointed as minister without being elected into parliament.
Turkish media has not surprised anyone yet again. When clashes were unraveling, curfew was being declared in half a dozen cities and number of deaths were climbing amid widespread protests and counter-protester violent attacks, Turkish TV channels were broadcasting entertainment shows, very much in line with the penguin patterns they have been carrying out during times of crises.
When there was protests in Egypt, Turkish television channels were broadcasting live from across Egypt; when there happened a coup, it was broadcasted live in Turkey… Turkish audience is allowed to watch all kinds of crisis situations and repression of rights live on TV as long as it does not happen in Turkey.
If anything was shown, this was portraying all the protests and protesters as “terrorists” that targeted Turkish national unity and sovereignty; yet failed to raise the question why would anyone demanding the intervention of Turkish troops against ISIS, attack Turkish nation. And, second question, how come police always manages to get hold of the people that shout slogans and fail to find the ones that carry out such attacks. Media definitely is being used for fueling the fire against Kobane-solidarity protests, serving as a tool of consent manufacturing. Given the number of internet-literate people who critically gets the news from social media, the media blackout seems to work in favor of the ones who are benefitting from violence on streets of Turkey.
While Turkish government explained everything previously with ….. lobby, the most recent uprisings in Turkey have been blamed on “Chaos Lobby”. All state officials, ministers who appear on TV put the blame on a shady non-existent organization that they call chaos lobby, probably an advanced version of the interest-rate lobby, terror lobby, social media lobby, porn lobby, judiciary lobby, marginal lobby, parallel lobby…