The massive outpouring of support for U.S. Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris by American celebrities brings to mind the difficult position of Turkish artists who dare wade into politics. One cannot forget the harsh reaction from the ruling AKP to Turkish celebrities who expressed support to Istanbul Mayor İmamoğlu last year.
Taner Akçam writes: The regime’s bold stroke vis-a-vis Hagia Sophia should not be seen as stemming from desperation. Rather, it is simply meant to relay the not-so-subtle message of the path to be followed by the "New Republic", and that message is that the “annihilationist tradition” of the old regime, inherited by the Republic’s founders, will be retained in the era to come.
Footage of the detentions of five individuals detained at pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) press conference in Istanbul reveal shouts from the civilians begging the police to stop pressing on their backs and telling them that their chest hurts. The images of police pressing on the detainee's backs is reminiscent of the recent police killing of black Minneapolis resident George Floyd, remembered with his words "I can't breathe!"
Police detained some 15 people at an Ankara protest condemning the police killing of black Minneapolis resident George Floyd. The protesters chanted some of Floyd's last words as he was suffocated to death by the officer, "Please, I can't breathe!"
Though some of the correspondences are superficial, the coincidence of the protests in the U.S. erupting just as people here are commemorating Gezi has lead to some soul searching about the similarities and differences in state violence and racism in both countries.
Disproportionate use of force by the Turkish police does not start nor end with Gezi. There are other cases of killing and the use of torture by the security forces. Usually, the victims are Kurds or Alevis that are accused after their deaths of being terrorists. When it comes to police brutality and use of violence against opponents, who can picture the president of Turkey as a democratic, peaceful and just political figure?
Many Turkish Islamists tend to exaggerate and connect all black movements in the United States to Islam. Another reason that probably affected Erdoğan’s perspective is that the protests in America are perceived here in Turkey as protests for identity. Unfortunately, Turkish political Islamists are in favor of democracy only if it suits this polarizing form of identity politics.
The presidential communications director of Turkey, which is the country that ranks near bottom of various press freedom indexes and is the world's biggest jailer of journalists, condemned the wounding of TRT World journalists by police in the United States and urged press freedom. "Press freedom is the backbone of democracy," Fahrettin Altun tweeted late on June 1. "I will raise this issue with the relevant U.S. officials without delay," he also said.
Our official and public/individual reactions to Mr. George Floyd’s killing is a perfect looking glass mirror. We are exempt of all sins. There were no enslaved Circassian women’s blood running in our veins. No property “confiscated” from our Armenian neighbours who decided to take an unexpected walk.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned the May 27 police killing of black Minneapolis resident George Floyd in a series of tweets. The president said the mentality that killed Floyd was "racist and fascist" and condemned the "inhumane mentality." Turkey has been experiencing a period of increased police violence since the 2013 anti-government Gezi protests when more than 20 people were killed.