Mediterranean and Middle Eastern people are proud of their hospitality. It has been said that strong family ties are the pillars of those societies. Especially in times of need the family size gets bigger as an act of solidarity. In Greece, since the economic crisis hit the country back in 2009 many youngsters have returned to their paternal villages due to hardships in central cities to survive. In Lebanon, Spain and Northern African countries hard times reflect in same kind of behavior.
Severely hit by economic crisis on and off since early seventies Turkey has developed into a different direction. Children of a segregated but paternal society, most Turks seem to have forgotten their traditions. Today very deep ethnic, political and religious fault lines divide Turkish people. The sides of these divides consider each other as enemies and associate all attributes accordingly. In polls many openly testify that they do not wish to live with people of the other side of the divide. In social media an increasing number of people write that they consider “others” as dirt. An infamous nationalist saying is reflected in many of those statements: “Love it or leave it!”
People of Turkey seem to have lost its spirit to live together. Or maybe they never had. Maybe Turkish society, forced into forming a nation, is now disintegrating. I have no intention of going into socio-developmental analysis of Turkey, but let me suffice to say that the lack of social contract between different layers of Turkish society has kept the state as “my state” in the minds of its people. It never became “our” state. Collective mind is always separated by the state of social belonging and never became common among masses living on Turkish soil.
Today in prisons 600+ Kurds are in hunger strike for 60 days. Since last Monday all Kurdish political prisoners in Turkish prisons have joined in. Their number is almost 8000. They are in jail because state thinks they are one way or another related to one or other Kurdish political organization. Overwhelming majority is not convicted. They are spending extended periods of jail time just waiting for their day in court. Most are not even guerrillas. Majority are students, young journalists, academicians; basically Kurds picked up from their homes indiscriminately.
But that’s not the reason for their strike. They want the solitary confinement of their leader in jail Abdullah Ocalan to be over, they want education in their mother tongue, and finally they want to defend themselves in courts in Kurdish.
On the 60th day most of the strikers are in critical condition. Maybe most will not die, but will carry the scars of the strike for the rest of their lives.
Today, MPs and mayors for the Kurdish BDP join in.
The state ignores or even mocks them. Prime Minister carried along a picture of BDP MPs eating food at a banquet a few months ago with himself and showed it to press to claim that hunger strikes are just a lie. For two months the opposition leader ignores the strikes completely.
Mainstream press is no different than the opposition leader. What is more tragic is the fact that social media is full of hate speech against the strikers, many wishing them dead already. Opposition ultra-nationalist MHP rhetoric is on the same lines.
And young people who believe in their ideals and no one cares about are dying slowly in their prison cells. As Turkey is stumbling into the charity of Arab princes economically, its people are succumbing into a spiritual abyss where none could speak of understanding or camaraderie.
Inci Tulpar narrates a story about a shop-owner in Istanbul taking care of a small puppy that he found on the street in her column today in Posta Daily. The puppy was in such a bad condition that he had to feed him four times a day in tiny portions. Mrs. Tulpar tells about the affection and love the puppy receives in the neighborhood. Unless we, as a society find the love and affection that man showed for a puppy in our hearts for each other independent of that other’s political orientation, race or conviction, we shall end as a “dead spirits society.”
In a way, 21st century is becoming an era of fake-states meeting their ends as could be seen in the examples of Iraq or Belgium. Turkey might be next.