Necessity of a social contract

SHAFAQNA- Turkey has become an uninhabitable country with the government’s undemocratic bills, actions, implementations and arbitrary decisions since the Dec. 17 corruption probe that took place last year. This atmosphere may produce a social contract — a new Constitution — for us.

Although it won the last two elections this past year, the government has been suffering from huge psychological pressure because of the corruption allegations. To overcome this, it has passed several undemocratic laws with its Parliament majority. Most of the bills are being drafted to punish the opposition.

The latest so-called judiciary package that was approved on Dec. 13 by the president gives the government 4,000 new judges and prosecutors — their number totals around 12,000 — and gives the police the right to detain individuals based on “reasonable suspicion” instead of strong suspicion. It can easily be abused. In essence, the bill was prepared to make an abuse legal.

The whole story below is based on the issue of reasonable suspicion.

On Dec. 14, the Zaman daily’s editor-in-chief, Ekrem Dumanlı; Samanyolu Media Group General Manager Hidayet Karaca; a producer; a scriptwriter; the former head of the İstanbul Police Department’s anti-terror branch; the former head of the Hakkari Police Department, Tufan Ergüder; and many other journalist were detained — totaling 31 people.

Dumanlı’s detention especially was broadcast live at the newspaper’s office by some media outlets. Thousands of readers gathered in front of the daily and shouted slogans like, “The free press cannot be silenced.” A couple of deputies also accompanied him to the police station.

In a public statement by the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, the reason for the detentions included forming, supporting, directing and being a member of an armed terrorist organization.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signaled a few days before the detentions that a new operation was coming for the sympathizers of Fethullah Gülen. Moreover, Twitter phenomenon Fuat Avni also announced on Thursday who would be detained and what the charges and allegations would be.

So, there is no need to be smart to see that the operation was clearly planned. Just the next day after the bill was approved, the operation was launched. Timing shows that this is revenge and an attempt to change the agenda before the first anniversary of the Dec. 17 probes.

After the presidential election on Aug. 10, there were two media groups — Doğan Media and Zaman Media — that held their oppositional stance against the government. The operation against the Gülen-affiliated media groups can be evaluated as an attack on the freedom of the media and a form of intimidation directed at the two groups for their oppositional stance.

Freedom House had put Turkey in the “not free” press freedom category earlier this year. Daniel Calingaert, the executive vice president of Freedom House, said, “The sweeping charges against the journalists and others detained today is a threat to free expression in Turkey and to anyone critical of its government.”

The European Union made three statements in two days to express their concern about the freedom of expression in Turkey. In a joint statement, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said: “The police raids and arrests of a number of journalists and media representatives in Turkey today are incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy,” and added that “this operation goes against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of.”

Turkey is no longer a livable country. Different communities feel vulnerable. Either you are with the government or you are an existential threat to it. Minorities, religious communities, leftists and nationalists are being evaluated as threats. They are all suffering.

On Dec. 15, the Radikal daily reported that Turkey’s Jews have started to leave the country to protect their lives and property. One of the writers of the Şalom weekly, Mois Gabay expressed that his community everyday suffers from assaults, abuses and threats. Turkey’s Kemalist state tradition has never seen minorities, including Jews, as real Turkish citizens.

For the first time in their history, the Gülen movement’s sympathizers started to peacefully protest injustice in the streets and in the squares. They seek higher democratic standards, such as the rule of law and freedom for all, not basic ones. They don’t want this for themselves, but for the whole country to live peacefully. The Dec. 17 process has been transforming them in a way that they internalize democratic values individually.

I am sure they will protest when other groups and communities are abused in the near future. They are aware that they are not alone in this club of sufferers.

Alevis are the ones who have suffered in all times.

Kemalist White Turks are not the privileged citizens of Turkey anymore.

Nationalists are no longer a part of the key, governing elite cadres high up in the bureaucracy.

It is time to set up a platform with all the suffering and isolated societies and groups. It is time to change the destiny of all the abused and isolated groups and societies.

What is promising is that in the old days, Turkey’s media was so polarized and would have responded with phrases like, “You deserve it, hard cheddar!” Today, I realized that, apart from the pro-Justice and Development Party (AK Party) media, the press does not approve of press interference and has said that they condemn the government’s involvement in the judiciary and freedom of the media.

Famous political philosopher Thomas Hobbes explained that a social contract is formed only if citizens feel insecure and decide to exchange all of their rights solely in return for an assurance of their safety. Overcoming all injustices and tyranny of the majority, day-by-day Turkey is approaching ground where all suffering groups and communities will come to find common reconciliation.

Because Turkey was a top-down modernized country, Turkish society did not pay the price of individual rights and liberties. Who knows, these kinds of unlawful and tyrannical actions may lead to an awaking of society with regard to the importance of a limited government.

We need to create a common ground that all citizens can feel secure on. We have to first hit rock bottom to get to that point, though. Unfortunately, we have not come to this point. The current events have demonstrated that it is approaching. I am scared to face this, because it implies violence and insecurity.

I hope we will succeed in making a contract in which a limited government, justice, equality before law, rule of law, freedom of expression and media are secured by a “state of nature” defined by John Locke, not Hobbes.

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