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October 30, 2012, Tuesday

Oct. 29 showdown

Yet another Oct. 29, a day to celebrate the 89th anniversary of the founding of the republic, was sadly marked by violent protests, police intervention and some unseemly scenes, as clashes between Turkish police and protesters, mainly comprising supporters of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Workers’ Party (İP) who insisted on holding a banned rally, took place and cast a shadow over Republic Day celebrations.

Columnists criticized the Ankara Governor’s Office with a united voice for banning the Oct. 29 rally, citing security reasons. They claim that it is the state’s job to take the necessary measures in such incidents rather than banning the rally altogether.

Oral Çalışlar from the Radikal daily says the banning of the rally suggests that the paranoia of provocations is again quite intense in the country and that it only makes things worse. In a “normal” and “democratic” regime, a public demonstration cannot be banned, and certainly, police cannot use pepper gas against protestors. This ban is wrong in every way, and it has only one function: to keep the old pro-banning attitude/structure of the state alive. In other words, it is the syndrome of “the rulers” imposing the things they deem right on the citizens,” Çalışlar says.

On the other hand, many columnists believe the protestors aimed to turn the republic demonstrations into a showdown between the government and the opposition.

Bugün’s Gültekin Avcı writes that the celebrations on Monday should have focused on the anniversary of a transition to a new form of government, but instead, with the provocative attitudes of the CHP and the İP, it was a celebration of a certain ideology, that is, Kemalism. The fact that our republic was founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his friends does not privilege nationalist and pro-CHP circles. The republic includes all the people in the country, while the Kemalist ideology concerns a limited segment of society. But unfortunately, the demonstration on Monday showed that the demonstrators perceived the day as their own national feast on which they can manifest their ideology and flex their muscles against the government, Avcı notes.

Milliyet’s Hasan Cemal, meanwhile, focuses on a scene from the Monday demonstrations in which a CHP official shouted at military officers during the demonstration, saying, “We are protecting the republic that you failed to protect.” Cemal says this shows that the pro-coup genes in the CHP are still alive, still calling on the military to intervene in the government.

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