The views expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SyriacPress.
By Kino Nahiro
To possess a secular political vision and associated strategy within Syriac society is a difficult and complex matter which involves an understanding of organization and structure.
Tuma Çelik was chosen in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as deputy in Turkish Parliament for Mardin. After the recent accusations of sexual assault against him, many ostensible “evaluations” and “founded opinions” have emerged in the media. Some elements within Syriac society say they do not see the Syriac Member of Parliament as their representative — foregoing the fact that you do not have to acknowledge someone as your representative for them to be so. These elements of Syriac society deliberately ignore his successful work and political line since election. They focus only on the latest events, put forward slander, and carry out a political genocide by publicly attacking him, his party, and activist friends.
Being fully aware of potential damage to his party’s important task in Parliament and to keep defamation and political slander away from the HDP, Tuma Çelik resigned on June 18th from the HDP. In his statement, he made clear he wanted to keep any discussion of the accusations away from the party’s work in Parliament. He has not given up his seat in Parliament.
After many years in active duty for the Syriac people, it is my humble but experienced opinion that the political slander around Tuma Çelik is a conscious and targeted campaign to strike at the HDP and drive a wedge between political activist Syriacs and political activist Kurds. This is not new; this game has been tried before in Syria. Will this slander campaign succeed? For now, his voice may be silenced in Parliament, but the struggle continues, and this plot will definitely be uncovered.
It started mid-June after a powerful address by Tuma Çelik in Parliament on the Sayfo Genocide against Syriacs. Agitated prosecutors and parliamentarians decided to push the button on the outspoken MP. Through their attack on Çelik, they have carried out an abject attack and conspiracy against the Syriac people and the HDP. Being in the opposition in Turkey means you are always a target of the ruling status-quo mentality. Through a lynching campaign on social media, trolls and pro-government media — which nowadays means most of Turkish media — tried to finish the job quickly before it reaches the trial stage.
Some Syriac groups and media outlets followed suit in this campaign in an effort to take advantage of the situation. Why? Because they want to destroy Tuma Çelik’s life-long ideals and organizational work, weaken him and his activist friends, and make him look bad to the Syriac people. To put it in other words, they hide and attack the Syriac MP from behind the AKP–MHP fascist dominated courts and prosecutors. Media outlets targeting Tuma Çelik claim to do so “in name of the Syriac people”. Now, I am not talking about popular mainstream Syriac media or organizations in general here, but there are some evident minor groups that want to make it appear that way. Why? Because these minor groups and media outlets do not want to bear real and high-risk responsibility in the field, proclaiming themselves “non-aligned” and hide behind the auspices of “objectivity”.
If I consider that Tuma Çelik, the central person in this whole slander campaign, represents the opposition HDP and is the opposition deputy for the Syriac people in Turkish Parliament then, to me, it means that the Syriacs who make foul and outrageous media attacks defend the ideals and thoughts of the fascist prosecutors and courts in Turkey. Then it makes sense to me. They are defending the fascist mindset to frustrate the political work and activities in the field.
The irony, however, is that until this case “surfaced”, most Syriac media outlets and political and social organizations worked their own territory and mostly followed. It has become clear now that when groups become party to a fascist mindset — a mindset that collaborates and ignores the interests of its own Syriac people — relationships become visible and a front is created.
Considering all this, I think it is necessary now to put the most important question to the Syriac people. Who do you side with? With Tuma Çelik and the Syriac people he defends or with a fascist and genocidal mindset represented in the smear campaign against him? Nobody can run away from making a choice in this existential matter. Everybody needs to choose a side in this. And the question is not about TV-channel ‘A’ or organization ‘B’. The question is: are you with the vile fascists or do you stand with the Syriac people? Do you side with the denialists or do you choose and support the HDP advocating brotherly coexistence? Your choice will decide whether our Syriac people in Turkey will live or die, whether Syriacs have a future in Turkey or not. If we do not want AKP–MHP fascism to silence the voice of Syriacs once and for all, know the fascist pawns and collaborators.