Suicide due to poverty refutes the government’s reality

Suicide is probably the end of hope. While the government of the rich is engaged in all kinds of exploitation and violence to end all hope, unfortunately, it is beyond the depth of any political party, leftist organization or a “hero,” in the current landscape, to create much-needed hope for victims and those who resist.

The government is full from eating, but it is still hungry. It needs snacks. There is no bakery left to offer food to the new capital owners of the regime. For this reason, they have now set their eyes on the bones and bodies of ordinary people.  

Millions are getting whipped on their backs while working under slavery conditions, while they receive bread and water just to keep themselves alive. Millions are exhausted. They see no way out as they are verging into deeper depression. 

There is a group of people on top, overly-inflated, who focus on consuming the country until they finish it, who have coiled up over the population. Since they are a part of the current government, or an extension of it, they can use the enforcement tools of the state. Police batons swing for them, strikes are banned for them, and the minimum wage is arranged according to their satisfaction. 

There is even an attempt to make silent the last scream of those who are driven to suicide in desperation and hopelessness through certain manipulations, and through grudges and hate.

This group has set up an army of liars and trolls in order to continue living their privileged and happy lives. They have placed these “militants” to every field of life. Not even tolerating small doses of hope to blossom, they have become so sharpened that they even stomp on those who have committed suicide. 

Third year student of Istanbul University’s Turkish Philology Department, poor and unemployed young person Sibel Ünli committed suicide two days ago by jumping into the sea. The hate these militants are filled with against this young woman was immediately unleashed. 

Ünli’s new year’s wish was on her social media account: “To find a job.” 

Ünli wrote, in her last post, “There is no money left on my cafeteria card; I only have one lira left.” This is happening while Istanbul University decided to lower its students’ subsidized three-meals-per-day allowance to only one meal per day, while students were protesting this decision, and while police batons were striking their heads. 

We learn, after the suicide, that Ünli was a volunteer at Sokak Lambası Derneği, distributing free soup to the homeless in Istanbul’s Taksim district. She was in solidarity with Mahir Kılıç, who is demanding his job back from a CHP municipality; in short, she was a leftist young person. 

In one of her tweets, she has commented, “Can I have a meal for one lira, enter!”

We also need to think over the fact that suicidal Ünli could not find a wide solidarity network the moment she hit the “enter” button. 

The government chooses to make the misery invisible and the voices inaudible of the millions of poor, hungry and unemployed people. The government sees them as unwanted burdens. It is a legitimate right to demand that the government develops some kind of a program for them, but it is at the same time blindness to have such an expectation. Such a program means the denial of the government’s own reality. 

Ünli’s friends read a press statement in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district that also contained a call to the political left, labor organizations, and to all the oppressed and poor: “While 60 percent of this country’s people are using antidepressants, while suicide rates are increasing, nobody should declare that ‘the cause of this is not the system.’ While suicide is on the agenda of everybody in the country, we cry out loud: ‘Sibel’s killer is capitalism; it is this rotten system.’”

Professor Korkut Boratav, speaking to Express magazine’s winter edition, espoused a similar view when commenting on the situation in Turkey: “Social crises lead to two political results: The first is disintegration, collapse, submission, depression, suicides… The second is social explosion.” According to Boratav, social depression impacted voting in both the March 31 and June 23 elections. It is a “separate issue” that there is no social explosion. There is the potential for an explosion, but society has been taken captive. 

However, says Boratav, “This spontaneous alliance of people is not strong enough to organize a wider social opposition.” This is the basic reason that the oppressed and the poor in Turkey cannot find any kind of way out. 

Suicide is probably the end of hope. While the government of the rich is engaged in all kinds of exploitation and violence to end all hope, unfortunately, it is beyond the depth of any political party, leftist organization or a “hero,” in the current landscape, to create the much-needed hope for victims and those who resist. 

Already widespread social opposition does not seem possible. It does not seem possible for those rightist and leftist discontents to be melted into the same pot. 

The polarization the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has deepened through nationalist, religious and militarist practices and discourses has, to a great extent, ruled out this possibility.   

For this reason, the optimistic analysis concerning how leftists and İYİ Party supporters participated in several activities preceding the March 31 elections, alongside CHP and HDP supporters, was a waste of time. The poor do not have the time to wait for these structures to end their disputes and agree on a wide shared program in favor of all the oppressed.  

While people are dragged into depression, crisis, and suicide because of poverty, desperation and hopelessness, telling them to wait for the next election is not politics, opposition, or leftism; it is cynicism. 

What is facing us is not comparison, it is the cold truth. It is life and death. 

Hope is not only the poor man’s bread. It is his life. The suicide of Ünli and those before her demonstrate this. Millions lost in the dark or overwhelmed by hopelessness are actually evoking the “left” and the values of the left. However, the response of the left to the poor, the depressed and those who are about to lose their hope has to include concrete and urgent solutions. 

I am quoting because it is a very recent example: The Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) issued a statement after its 10th Ordinary General Assembly in Ankara on January 5th. The last paragraph of the statement was as follows: “The Peoples’ Democratic Congress is both the inheritor of the revolutionary, democratic and socialist tradition of struggle, and at the same time as a genuine total of the will to exceed them. The HDK will definitely enhance its uncompromising fight in undermining capitalist modernity, chopping it finely like a stubborn mole. HDP will build roads to make possible its bid to form an alternative world and country, working together with our people, laborers, all the segments who are oppressed, otherized and marginalized. For the branches of the tree of hope to blossom, it is now and again, time for HDK.” 

The finding is correct; the mole metaphor is to the point. However, it is a statement that generates its own question – because, again, it does not talk about a concrete path. 

How will the branches of the tree of hope be made to blossom? 

Will it be through alternative economic solidarity networks that would halt the loss of hope for such people, while they oppose the government and fight against those who are after their bread and food? Will it be through cooperatives, village, neighborhood and city councils?  

Will it be through mechanisms that would be able to respond immediately to questions such as Sibel Ünli’s call of “How can I have a meal with one lira, enter”? Through what kind of mechanisms? Who will find the hope Sibel Ünli lost? How will it be restored? 

October 13, 2020 Journalism is a crime!