January 28, 2015

CHP deputy says gov’t polarizing public via media

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Bursa deputy Aykan Erdemir has said that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has been polarizing the public via the media, warning that bad incidents such as massacres and genocides took place at the end of such polarization processes in history.

Speaking during a parliamentary press conference on Wednesday, Erdemir said: “Let's not forget all massacres and genocides in world history erupted as a result of [polarization in the public]. The road to the death of millions of people in concentration camps is paved with hate speech, with political speeches and with a climate of hate created via the media.”

Erdemir also said that the opposition and different circles in Turkey are being seriously dehumanized and demonized by the government, adding: “Today, I'm sorry to say that we are witnessing the same process in Turkey. The language of hate is raised via the media through remarks from high-ranking officials of the government and opinion leaders close to the government. The atmosphere of hatred is being reinforced by them.”

He also said that everybody, from the president to ordinary citizens, has to act in a responsible way in order to prevent violence -- both by the state against citizens or between citizens -- from taking place in the public. He said the president, the prime minister and even the ministers and deputies are not taking this warning into consideration.

The Gülen movement [Hizmet movement] has been the main target of the government since a major corruption and bribery investigation, which implicated various high-ranking state officials -- including former Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his four ministers -- went public on Dec. 17, 2013. Erdoğan and the government officials have described the movement as a “parallel structure.” Erdoğan accuses the movement of being behind a plot, the Dec. 17 corruption probe, to oust him from government. The movement denies the accusation.

Erdoğan has used various defamatory expressions to refer to the Gülen movement, such as “parallel state,” “gang,” “virus,” “secret organization” and even “Hashashin" -- a shadowy historic group that carried out politically motivated assassinations during the time of the Seljuk Empire -- during his public speeches since Dec. 17.

During the nationwide Gezi protests that erupted in May of 2013 over a government plan to demolish a central park in İstanbul, Erdoğan, who was then prime minister, refused to ease the tensions. Describing the protesters as “looters,” Erdoğan said he was having a difficult time keeping 50 percent of society, i.e., his voter base, in their homes. He also tried to stigmatize the protesters on many occasions.

Published on Today's Zaman, 28 January 2015, Wednesday