Many years ago the most disturbing thing that disturbed me about the nation of Turkey was the squat toilet which is, or was, common there. Basically it’s a hole in the floor that you flush. But instead of sitting while you poop, you squat over it.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has just squatted over his entire nation and didn’t even have the courtesy to flush.
To understand the drama playing out in Turkey we need to refer to Star Wars, Episode III. Everything in life can be explained through either Star Wars or an episode of Seinfeld. It’s true, but the closest analogy I can think of from Seinfeld to describe Erdogan is the Soup Nazi. No democracy for you!
In Episode III of Star Wars, Revenge Of The Sith, Chancellor Palpatine uses a war to increase his power, abolish his term limits, and eventually forces his opposition to attempt a coup, which he then uses as his reasoning to kill democracy and install an empire and declares himself emperor. Twenty years later in Episode IV, A New Hope, he abolishes the senate and tells them to take a hike. It was Jar Jar in Episode II who got the whole tyrant ball rolling by proposing executive powers for the chancellor, but we’ll bitch about that annoying Gungan another time.
Turkey is embroiled in an armed conflict with Kurds, the Syrian Civil war, and experienced a failed attempt at a military coup last July that many are skeptical over. Erdogan used has used the coup to increase his power and imprison many of his critics. 40,000 people were detained after the coup, including 10,000 soldiers. Without giving specific reasons, 2,745 judges were also detained. 15,000 educators were suspended and the licenses of 21,000 teachers working at private institutions were revoked. Over 100,000 people have been purged. Erdogan blamed the coup on his opposition, the Gulen Movement, and labeled them a terrorist organization (which Palpatine did to the Jedi) and their leader now lives in exile in Pennsylvania which is the equivalent of Dagobah and Tatooine as there’s nothing to do in any of those places.
Erdogan also used the coup for an emergency referendum held last Sunday that would increase his power and effectively eliminate democracy in Turkey. The eighteen amendments to the Turkish constitution passed on a 51-48% vote.
The proponents for the measures were able to use government resources and funding to stage rallies and support for a yes vote. Critics were suppressed including press coverage, with many being assaulted. International election monitors claim there were a lot of illegal votes, maybe millions.
With the changes the president becomes the head of state and government. It abolishes the prime minister and increases members of parliament, who now need an absolute majority (301 out of 600) to override a presidential veto, or give him what he wants. The president now has the power to appoint and sack ministers and the vice president. The president no longer has to terminate his party membership (which was a requirement). The president has expanded powers to appoint judges and prosecutors. Perhaps the most significant detail out of this is that Term limits for the presidency will be reset and, if Erdogan wins elections in 2019 and 2024, he could be in power until 2029.
Erdogan said anyone who voted no is a terrorist and that international election monitors need to “know their place.” He plans to use his new powers to reinstate the death penalty which will also prevent Turkey from joining the European Union.
If Erdogan has a majority in Parliament, and he does, he can do whatever he wants. He has effectively become a dictator and democracy has died in Turkey. Donald Trump called Erdogan to offer his congratulations.
Of course I’m really bothered by the prosecution of journalists which includes cartoonists Bahadir Baruter and Ozer Aydogan, who both were recently convicted and will serve nearly a year in prison for doing what I do, making fun of the president. While both cartoonists declared their innocence, I’m guilty as hell of those charges. Ask my clients. In addition to those charges, Baruter faces further prosecution for insulting the prosecutor, who I’ve been told by reliable sources is a dick.
We can add the Turkish Referendum to the list of recent scary and freakish election results such as Brexit and Donald Trump. France is next in line. There’s a rise in the West of those who want to elect tyrants, decrease Democracy and silence criticism.
People like Trump and Erdogan try to silence and delegitimize their critics and tell them to be quiet. I’m not good at being quiet and I hope you’re not either.
We have a responsibility to be very noisy right now.
Clay Jones can be contacted at [email protected]