Dear Mr. President,

I was amongst those who approved of the prior decision of The Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) not to participate in the Democracy Rally you held in İstanbul. This was due to your undependable attitude towards the concept of democracy over the years. However, your insistence on “unity and solidarity of the country and the triumph of democracy” came to fruition and first Devlet Bahçeli the leader of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), then Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu the leader of CHP accepted your second invitation. Therefore, although I am a person against you and the political ideology you have been representing for years, I decided to join this rally and give a chance to the democracy-peace duo. I went to Yenikapı. On the premises, I got together with all your supporters. Today, with your permission, stowing away my judgments and even my political beliefs in the refrigerator, within democratic practices, I will share with you my thoughts free heartedly.

Dear Mr. President,

The July 15 bloody FETO (Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization) coup attempt, I hope has inevitably reminded you during a most critical process one of Atatürk’s most important discourses: “The Republic of Turkey can never be the country of sheiks, dervishes, disciples and members of sects. The best, the truest sect is the sect of civilization.” Your voters, who looked upon sects as “innocent religious formations” up until today, have probably come to their senses. As you know, most of the 2nd Republican writers1 who supported you and political Islam would get defensive whenever FETO aka “F-type” was mentioned and say, “What’s their difference from civilian lobbying groups or non-governmental organizations?” That difference, Turkey as a whole had to learn it on that night by paying a heavy price. Following the orders of a fundamentalist fanatic, the raving so-called soldiers did not refrain from firing artillery, shells and machine guns at their own people, inflicting heavy losses on our people. What is interesting is fact that, those members of the military you tried to prevent being discharged from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) always by putting an annotation to their “discharge” decision by the high military council, along with those belonging to the same group (FETO) who leaked into the highest ranks in the army, carried out these unforgivable attacks against you and the public. And most of the soldiers within the TSK, who protected you and warded off the coup, came from the Kemalist-traditional line. Thanks to them and the masses you called to the streets via the media, FETO’s vile operation did not achieve its goal. The trouble is that there may still exist ‘sleeper cells’ infiltrated deep in the TSK. This suspicion is constantly brought to the agenda. Perhaps the most secured harbor for you is the Republican-Democrat-Kemalist officers that did time in prison during the ERGENEKON2 case! No one doubts that they stood dead on end against FETO andthe coup. More precisely, maybe there is no one else other than these people that passed this full “test” of being anti-FETO personalities! I hope that from now on, the critical positions like your Presidential aides, will be chosen more carefully.

I WAS A TARGET OF FETO AS WELL

Dear Mr. President,

FETO messed with me too. At the turn of the 1990’s the Foundation of Journalists and Writers, which is under Gulen’s control, had invited me insistently to their reception (“Gulen Hoca wants you among us”), which of course I had refused. I did not fall to the trap. I left a big distance between us and carried on with my Kemalist struggle. Later during the Ergenekon case, using the same tactics against Kemalist figures like Mustafa Balbay, Tuncay Özkan, Doğu Perinçek, they made up indictments consisting of most untrue scenarios that were exposed without achieving any results. Apparently, I was also a victim of phone hacking for many years. I was informed of this last year by senior overseers of the supreme board of judges and prosecutors. They showed me also official documents and police records. Of course, I pressed charges against these people and participated in the proceedings in the FETO case as a plaintiff. In addition, the source of the heavy attack I was subject to in 2011, a “commissioned murder” in all its aspects, is still in the dark. The aggressor was sentenced to serve 32 years in prison but did not confess his connections.

THE SOVEREIGNTY WHICH CAME DOWN DOWN 
FROM THE SKIES AND SECULARISM…

As the saying goes, “every cloud has a silver lining”. After the coup attempt, the vast majority of our people wanted to believe in the winds of peace and democracy blowing in the Turkish political climate. Because the public is most severely divided into at least three or four major groups and people can no longer stand it. Despite all the political groupings in Turkey, they miss the old days when they as a whole looked up with hope to the future and democracy. As you well know all efforts trying to politicize religion assert, “Sovereignty belongs to Allah” as opposed to “Sovereignty rests unconditionally with the nation”. Come July 15, the shift to “Sovereignty belongs to the nation”, particularly seen in the political party you have founded, the AKP is extremely promising. Because as you can see, after saying “Sovereignty belongs to Allah”, you can never know or calculate whose hands this “authority” will fall into; in the hands of which sheikh or a sect leader with a brain full of seeds of discord! Could there be a more despicable separatism than using faith and love of God as an argument, as a quest of power in the political arena? So in this case as well, we have ascertained that Atatürk is right. I hope everyone draws lessons from these experiences and we will no more have any sects that will have an access to unduly power and underserved profits.

I’m sure you are actually glad that the “triumph of democracy” on July 15 was attained with the wholehearted defense of democracy of the media organizations, which you had often harshly criticized in the past. Just like the discourse, “Everyone will one day be in need of law”, the statement “Everyone will one day need a free media” has indisputably been proven right. Of course, strictly speaking, the media in our country is still far from being qualified as “free”. According to the world freedom of press index issued by Reporters Without Borders in Washington in 2016, we rank 151 out of 180 countries in the world, just reminding... I’m sure, in a contemporary Turkey where people who revered democracy in Yenikapı, you too are disturbed by this situation.

Dear Mr. President,

At the demonstration which was held in the memory of 239 martyrs of democracy nice words were spoken, the public was promised democracy and days full of civil peace and comfort. In particular, the CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu’s insistence that “politics must be kept out of the mosques, courthouses and barracks” was striking. On the other hand, the speakers of the rally had difficulty in explaining exactly the meaning of the word secularism. Because the critical threshold of the case, of course, evolves around secularism. Unfortunately, somehow the public was unable to learn or unwilling to accept that secularism is above all a concept that is related to the separation of state and religion and that it respects all religions, all faiths and nonbelievers equally.

DEMOCRACY IS POSSIBLE ONLY BY TOLERANCE AND RESPECT OF THE OTHER

Dear Mr. President, before addressing you with questions in this regard as a citizen, I wanted to make some succinct reminders about the word “democracy”. As you know, democracy is first and foremost a cohabitation culture. It’s not about just tolerating but also knowing that one is compelled to tolerate others who are not like him, who do not live like him, who do not think like him. Democracy means the unconditional sovereignty of the nation, the power being neither in the heavens nor at the hands of one single person. Secularism comes also with pluralistic thought and freedom of expression. The essence of democracy is respecting your opponent, your rival even in the context of most harshest difference of opinions. It is a series of a code of ethics. And not the powerful misuse of that power to bring the minority to its knees, making deterrent threats. In the end being a democrat means, people who work for you in your surroundings, in your political sphere, in your bureaucracy and security forces should equally be egalitarian and democratic. So, if you are going to highlight democracy the way you have been emphasizing since July 15, you need to miraculously carry your entire team to the same level. I hope you will succeed.

COULD YOU REALLY CHANGE YOUR STAND IN THESE MATTERS 
AND BECOME A DEMOCRAT?

Dear Mr. President,

At the Yenikapı rally, where more than 5 millions of our citizens gathered together, I would like to believe that the setting you have built on the concept of democracy is sincere. Then I ask you: A few days after the coup, you declared in the public squares, “We will re-install the ancient Artillery Barracks in Taksim” (which was one of the triggering points for the Gezi Protests). Are you still insistent on this allegation? The Atatürk Cultural Center has been unnecessarily closed down for 8 years; will this illogical situation that has become a real torture for the artists still continue? The heartbreaking situation that our State and City Theater, our ballet, our opera, and our classical music orchestras have collapsed into is evident. Will this matter persist or will it be corrected by giving an ear to rightful complaints and the loud uproar of art institutions?

In historical matters, will the sensitivities of the community be taken into account and will the founders of our Republic be approached with due respect? Will you be able to stop the so-called teachers or head of departments who are trying insidiously and step by step to erase Atatürk’s name and reforms anywhere? How long will everyone’s state of “being on a bed of nails” concerning “the separation of powers” which is normally under constitutional guarantee that has created a great disturbance in the political arena and in the society continue? On the 1st May, will the modest and justified demands of the workers who want to fill the main squares, notably Taksim, be met by a wall again? Will the Justice and Development Party (AKP) municipalities grow out of the habit of complicating and disrupting transportation during the days of opposition rallies or meetings? Will the “Saturday mothers”3 be able to share the pain of their children with each other and the public without clashing with the police? Are you going to continue your tradition of lashing out to or suing journalists and writers who harshly criticize you? In this regard, dropping all old lawsuits against those who were charged with insulting you was a very important step. How will the rest follow? Will you exhibit reactions like immediately pressing charges against those who criticize you (not referring to those who openly insult you) on the social media, or going even further by slowing down the Internet, banning a popular social media? Will we continue to witness a country where prisoners are lost or die in custody, where those that do time in prisons struggle with death due to the process of being unable to receive necessary health services? Will you still keep just watching those at the head of the state media TRT, who persistently do not give any broadcast time, or right to answer, or special program to any opposition party? Will the AKP continue to embed their own people at every level of the state and ministries? Are you going to allow the attendance of journalists from the opposition to the television programs or the press conferences you participate in or foreign trips you take? Will the LGBT Pride parade still be sieged by the cops and will people be asked to leave the streets?

Dear Mr. President, if you are sincere about the “triumph of democracy”, then you should agree that, all the answers to these questions need to be different from those given so far.

AS THE PRESIDENT OF AN ART ORGANIZATION...

Dea rMr. President, the goal of this article is not to create controversy. Since the people now really look forward to the calming down of the political environment and since you too, after this bloody coup, insist that with a new era of dialogue and reconciliation specifically want to make democracy bloom, serious steps should be taken to change things. For example, while we were at the Democracy Rally; the play, “At the Table of the Sun: Nazım Hikmet and Brecht”, performed by one of Turkey’s most honorable actor and theatre director Genco Erkal at a historical site in a schoolyard in Moda has been banned. A week prior to this incident, at the İstanbul Municipal Theatre, seven actors were nonsensically removed from their jobs due to their leftist and opposition views. Those seizing the opportunity of OHAL (State of Emergency) stopped many artistic activities and theaters in various parts of Anatolia. I, as the World President of the International Association of Art/IAA- an official partner of UNESCO and President of the Turkish National Committee, UPSD regard all this as very strange and of course totally unacceptable. If Turkey is truly going to go through these changes, then please intervene in these impermissible acts and allow no longer the bureaucrats to practice this arbitrary pressure on artists in every country there are people who are more royalist than the king. Let them not be afraid of people thinking, questioning, criticizing and protesting. They are the conscience of this country. In fact, we artists want much more from this state. While going abroad for your political trips in the same way that you take with you businessmen, bureaucrats we expect you take along with you your museum directors, artists and curators and go ahead with the construction of at least ten Museums of Modern and Contemporary Art at the four corners of the country. Because foreign politicians and businessmen evaluate our country by the museums we have not built, in as much as by the bridges we have built! You probably are aware that the State, since the Atatürk era, has not opened a single Modern and Contemporary Museum in our country!

TO RESPECT THE OPPOSITION ARTISTS AND THINKERS

Dear Mr. President,

In every democratic country in the world, leaders regard in tolerance the opposition cartoonists, writers, theater people, artists or the musicians. Sometimes they even take advantage of the situation in order to make fun of themselves. That behavior on the contrary, makes them even greater in the eye of the public. You have to carry-on as the President also of the people who want to see you lose in the elections. So, if you suddenly decide for instance to open new museums and surprise the world by appointing a board of directors that would let artists exhibit nude paintings or opposition political works; in that case you will freeze everybody with those unexpected moves. Only then the whole world will be accepting that this country is finally sailing towards a real democracy! Surprise everybody Mister President!

THIS YEAR WILL BE YOUR LITMUS TEST

Dear Mr. President,

If there are no changes of conduct in the examples, I have presented to you, trust me that it would be a pity for the 5 million people that went to the Yenikapi manifestation and all the Turkish citizens that are dead tired about what the country is going through. In that case, may it be in our country or in the outside world, people will think that this great rally was nothing more than a sort of non-substantial show off! Then the undisputed comment that the main issue in this manifestation of August 7, was nothing other than your own search for support and power. Which would mean that in the coming weeks everything would turn very fast to its initial position and all your efforts regarding compromise that you had started with such euphoria, would abruptly end. Let me also tell you that the issue of death penalty that you have thrown into the hands of the Parliament, would end up with the EU cutting off all relations with Turkey and beyond that, our country would turn into a sort of unlawful state of the pirates! You know much better than me that in a lawful state, the changes made within the law, can never be applied to an ulterior date, cannot be retroactive. I would kindly ask your special attention to that very important matter.

Dear Mr. President,

This flowing human ocean upon which you placed your emphasis in the demonstration of Yenikapi, was maybe the largest crowd in the history of the world that attended a political rally. It was a big success to bring together this manifestation at such a level of intensity and a spirit of “single body” as you worded it, with the opposition parties being present on the same stage as you and the Prime Minister! Turkey badly needed that after all the disastrous attacks of the PKK, ISIS and now FETO. In order to record the manifestation of 7 August as an unforgettable page in our history, can only become possible by turning it into a milestone day for democracy. That’s why I would like to point out that the issues brought here to your agenda, are the ones that people are waiting with a growing curiosity in Turkey as well as in the outside world. As I respectfully salute the 239 new democracy martyrs and their memory, I would like to repeat here that my strongest wish in life is to see Turkey in peace and freedom, living as a country that has digested democracy fully in every regards.

Respectfully, 

BEDRİ BAYKAM


1. “The Second Republicans” are some media writers, university professors whose common denominators are to underestimate Atatürk and his era, try to minimize or criticize the values of the reforms that Atatürk brought. They have been close to the so called soft-Islamist and Kurds. However, their own lifestyle and family roots are most of the time “Kemalist”. All their theories were very “a la mode” when they controlled the media and used their power to the benefit of the AKP. According to the Kemalists they have been “used” by the power of political Islam and then thrown as waste after their “expiration date. Now they are floating in no-man’s land without belonging to any group.

2. ERGENEKON and BALYOZ were the name of the court cases, when hundreds of Kemalist journalists, writers and army officers were arrested by prosecutors and the police in made-up conspiracies, plots with false documents and made up contents loadings of fake material into their computers, accusing them of wanting to abolish the Republic of Turkey. Most of those names stayed 6-7 years in prison in the years around 2008-2014. The court case was during the high times of the AKP-Fethullah Gülen partnership. When Gülen’s people attacked Erdoğan and his family on corruption charges, their roads split. Quite fast following this high conflict, the Ergenekon and Balyoz convicts were released.

3. Saturday Mothers: Every Saturday afternoon in the İstiklal Avenue near Taksim Square, in front of the Galatasaray High School, mothers who lost their children or leftist or Kurds that have been legally or physically “lost”, get together to complain, sign petitions or comfort each other in their agony.

Post Date: 18.04.2017
Category: Articles
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Bedri Baykam, Galerie Lavignes-Bastille - Paris