Four siblings in their 50s and 60s were living in the same apartment in one of the oldest neighborhoods of Istanbul, Fatih. Last week, they were found dead in their flat. They hung a warning sign on their door, saying “There is cyanide inside, do not enter, call the police.”
According to police reports, it was revealed that the siblings were struggling financially. Only one of them had a job working as a model for fine arts students at a university. She could not handle the task of being the sole breadwinner, and the family had not been able to pay the bills for the last couple of months.
It was a monumentally tragic scene: as the bodies were removed from the flat, the electric company technicians came and cut the electricity due to the unpaid bills. After death arrived, the electricity company followed to turn off the lights.
A seller in the local market from whom the siblings had been buying for the last 15 years told BBC Turkish they would buy five or six loaves of bread every day. He said they would not pay daily, but at the beginning of every month. The seller also had not been paid by the siblings for the last two months.
A similar tragedy last week also happened in Antalya. A young couple with their two kids were found dead after an apparent collective suicide. The father left a letter behind in which he wrote that he had not been able to find a job. This put the family in a severe debt, he said, and there was no other choice. Like the siblings from Istanbul, the young family of four also died by poison. The investigation implied that the father likely poisoned himself after he administered the poison to the rest of the family, who seemed to have been unaware of the tragic fate approaching them.
Edirne was site of tragedy on November 8. A young customs official ended his own life. Following his death, the official’s father said that his son had taken out a line of credit from the bank and had been struggling to pay it back.
It was a week of tragedies from different corners of Turkey. For some, it felt as if society had entered the plot of a science fiction story in which an unknown virus infected people and pushed them to suicide. Others questioned their whether the people in question were possibly selective in how they perceived things, and wondered if everything in life comes down to how one observes reality. In any case, one thing was undeniable: all of the tragedies had financial and existential troubles at their core.
One of the heaviest financial crises in Turkey’s history was in 2001. It first became public symbolically when a salesman threw a cash till at then-Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit. The man threw the giant cash box in front of the cameras as Ecevit was walking into his office. As the till hit the floor and shattered into pieces, the salesman yelled, “We are struggling!” The incident symbolically marked the beginning of the end of the Ecevit era.
Obviously no one can even come close to throwing anything at Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today. No one can even come close enough to simply ask a question about the declining quality of life in Turkey. However, the latest surge of suicides could be as symbolic as the shattered cash till 18 years ago. The market does not seem to be convinced by the official macroeconomic parameters announced by the state, and youth unemployment is on the rise. It is hard to see a bright future through the eyes of the Turkish middle class.
It is also not easy to analyze the state of the Turkish economy. Even argument-based, scientific criticisms about the economy are enough to drive the Turkish government mad. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Berat Albayrak, who is also Erdogan’s son-in-law, compared a group of economics professors who criticized the state of the economy to terrorists. Albayrak said the criticisms were an attempt to scare the people and create panic which is “a terrorist modus operandi.”
The pro-government newspaper Sabah recently wrote about the government’s new legislative initiative. According to the article, the new law would not necessarily fix the problems of the population, but would financially punish those who speak negatively about the Turkish economy.
It seems it will soon be illegal to talk about the elephant in the room. However, it also seems that more and more rooms are becoming too small for the elephant to be ignored.
In a meeting between Mr Erdoğan and his party’s MPs, some MPs voiced their concerns about Turkish soap operas that they found to be not suitable for Turkish values and culture. According to the reports, Mr. Erdoğan agreed with the MPs and told them he was disturbed as well. When the President voices a concern about a matter, a new decree or law usually follows.
The chaos that occurred after the June 2015 election worked for Erdoğan, but his approval ratings tend to fall when terror attacks or wars halt and people start worrying about the economy. According to Metropoll, the last time Erdoğan’s approval rating was higher than 50 percent was 2018; the economy seems to be taking its toll on Erdoğan.
Up until now, the local businessmen used to support AKP without reservation, and it used to be a win-win situation for both parties. However, this cooperation seems to be fading. When Suriçi Group Platform hosts CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, it is a significant development for Turkish politics.
There is the talk of early elections, both on the street and in back rooms. There is an expectation that some change will occur. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has a more critical part to play in Turkish politics. However, it seems that it won’t be easy for the HDP to keep their traditional voter base satisfied while becoming a more relevant actor in the upcoming political period.
While many of the pro-government figures in Turkey were preaching about what sort of a villain Soleimani was, the Turkish secular left was busy describing him as the “Che Guevara of the Middle East.” Though it depends on how one perceives Che Guevara, the comparison was supposed to be a compliment to Soleimani’s legacy.
Totalitarian systems usually come up with their own ideal man. Tayyip Erdoğan believes the future of his Turkey lies in İmam Hatip school education. He believes the only way to create his “ideal man” is to educate young Turkish people in line with the strict religious education of the imam hatip schools. As Erdoğan became stronger, so did the imam hatip schools.
President Erdoğan’s military advisor and the founder of the armed group SADAT, recently suggested that Islamic unity will be possible when Mahdi comes. Erdoğan’s military advisor announcing his mission to prepare for Mahdi’s arrival is definitely not a good sign for Turkey’s near future.
Horses tumbling down and breathing their last breaths, while still being harnessed to the carriage has also turned into an everyday scene at the Princes’ Islands of Istanbul. Weak, limping horses trying to pull crowded families up the hills, often looks like a horror scene from a dystopian movie.
Led by Erdoğan, the AKP has been reshaping the secular life of Turks for the last 17 years, bit by bit. The latest in the line of religiously-inspired incidents happened in Adana, a southern Turkish city with a unique character whose people are proud of their city, their type of kabab and their Adana ways.
Last Sunday, women gathered in one of the Istanbul’s busy centers, Kadıköy. Their aim was to protest violence against women and the inaction of the state. However, as usual in recent years in Turkey, the police jumped in and dispersed the crowd, detaining some of the women protesters.
Turkey is now being ruled by an exceptional version of a presidential system. Everything is ultimately decided by the President, with ministries and the legislative branch having a marginal influence. But he also wants citizens to be able to reach the Palace directly. And CIMER is the answer!
Imamoğlu ran his election campaign not on a narrative of fighting, but a narrative of peace. He promised to be inclusive, and he was careful not to target Erdoğan in his speeches. He aimed to grab AKP votes by not targeting Erdoğan. However, now it seems that he is shifting gears.
Gas prices have doubled overnight in Iran. Since Nov. 15, street protests and riots have been spreading. The protests started peacefully, but turned violent fairly quickly. The security forces were relentless: they had no intention of tolerating this public objection to the price increase.
The Sevres Syndrome has been a factor that impedes rationality for many Turkish citizens trying to make some sense of global dynamics. In recent years, Turkish-American relations have deteriorated at an unprecedented rate. For many Turks, this was simply another example of hatred against the Turks, this time coming from across the ocean. However, even in the more rational circles in Turkey, it is almost impossible to hear critical analysis concerning Turkey’s responsibility in the failing relationship.
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Turks established the Turkish Republic. However, even the issue of what to celebrate proves that Turks have a long road ahead before they feel like a truly united nation that shares similar ideals and prospects for future.
According to Turkish civil law, the party who has the economic advantage in the marriage is to pay for children’s expenses and some expenses of the former spouse. In most cases the economic advantage is with the men, since on the one hand many men do not want their wives to work during the marriage and also social inequalities cause men to be the breadwinners of the families, not the women.