04/03/2022

Why Selahattin Demirtaş and Osman Kavala are being held captive

This op-ed was originally published in Turkish by Gazete Sabro on February 27, 2022. The original can be found here.

By Suphi Aksoy


Trying to change the wrong founding doctrine of the Turkish Republic is seen as the greatest crime for Turkey’s nationalists and defenders of the Turkish-Islamic synthesis. Selahattin Demirtaş and Osman Kavala have been convicted for trying to reverse the wheels of this taboo system. The principles of the current state system are monistic, denialist, and it tries to eliminate differences. The new and democratic line is considered a serious crime against this status-quo state system because it defends pluralism, multilingualism, multi-religion and advocates human rights, democracy, freedoms and the right to a dignified life for all people.

The historical battle between these two philosophies of state is very old and humankind has fought this battle throughout all of its history in the Middle East and Turkey. Genocides, massacres, violence and all kinds of cruelty were used against those who demanded freedom. Turkey’s denialist policy has tried to suppress the peoples’ struggle for self-identity and democracy with blood. Those who expressed their identity were declared traitors, separatists, and terrorists. What happened to Demirtaş and Kavala is the concrete expression of this historical reality and its anachronistic lawlessness. The emergence of these two brave men shocked the AKP-MHP government and gave hope to the peoples in Turkey. Selahattin Demirtaş took the political line based on the interests and self-representation of peoples and applied this in practice. It gave all identities access to useful platforms. Osman Kavala developed projects to strengthen civil society and acknowledgment of social differences.

One was accused of being the financier of the Gezi protests, which, according to the government, aimed to overthrow the state system. The other was convicted without any fair trial and held responsible for the Kobane protests and the events of 6-8 October. Thus, after the proper conditions for the government were created, both pioneers were imprisoned. Their arrests were undoubtedly politically motivated and carried out as a requirement of destruction, denial, and monism.

The main reason for not implementing the court decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) lies in the founding philosophy of the Turkish Republic. In this chauvinistic thought, the strategic aim is to assimilate and destroy the different identities and historical cultural structures. Whoever put forward and defended Turkey’s various identities, regardless of context and intent, was found guilty and even declared a traitor. To this end, lynching and the harshest punishments were legitimized.

Selahattin Demirtaş and Osman Kavala are political prisoners. The preconceived plan is to gradually eliminate the two captives politically. But the tides are changing, and the public is raising its voice. Representatives of many international institutions and organizations have taken action. In addition, the regime is collapsing and losing its power base due to its failure to solve the country’s problems.

When the government retaliated against Demirtaş and Kavala through the judiciary, laws, justice and human rights were flouted. With the one-man authoritarian system, the remnants of democracy have already been done away with. Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has been relegated to a dissident and renegade. He lost his offices and authorities within the AKP because he did not listen to Salahattin Demirtaş. If President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had listened to Demirtaş’s call of ‘we will not make you president’, the Turkish Assembly would not have experienced the loss of prestige and isolation at the international level it has today. His enthusiasm for the presidency and for one-man rule has made him one of the most controversial figures in history. With the Erdoğan government in Turkey, the regime is now publicly questioned, along with all the injustices it has done over the course of its history. The people seek justice and their rights by standing up against the state doctrine of assimilation, destruction and denial. This search will democratize Turkish society.


The views expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SyriacPress.