January 24, 2016

Bank of mercy and butterfly lives

Bülent Keneş

I am not referring to any ordinary bank like İş Bankası, one of Turkey's biggest banks, which the unlawful Erdoğan regime is signaling it will arbitrarily confiscate after Bank Asya.

It is a hypothetical bank which may offer the cure for the ubiquitous mercilessness haunting everywhere at a time when every part of the country and region is fraught with death, bloodshed, tears, sorrow and mourning. It is the same bank the renowned writer Oğuz Atay, who died at a young age, mentioned in his iconic novel "Tutunamayanlar" (Erectus Disconnectus). I wish this hypothetical bank were real so that it could graciously lend non-refundable loans of mercy, fairness and empathy to the Erdoğan regime, which suffers from the incurable illnesses of unfairness, arbitrariness, tyranny, oppression and despotism, and to the pathetic Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which desperately needs compassion for its misery.

It is of course dubious if the Erdoğan regime and the AKP government, under his intense clout, are deprived of mercy because they move away from fairness or if they lose their fairness as they run away from mercy. But there is a direct correlation between unfairness and mercilessness as far as we can gather from the recent developments. On the other hand, you can be sure that the pathetic state of Turkey's rulers constitutes the most thought-provoking example on this earth of how those who lose their fairness will lose their conscience and those who lose their conscience will lose their fairness as well. And it wouldn't be easy to find a hypothetical bank of mercy which has the reserves in abundance enough to cure the inconceivable oppression this despotic horde -- characterized with corruption, theft and bribery -- imposes on its opponents, as well as its endless witch hunts and pressure against media outlets and intellectuals.

Nevertheless, let us leave these fantasies behind and return to the real life, full of suffering and sorrow. I recently gave a lengthy interview to a team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) under the Guidelines on the Protection of the Human Rights Defenders project, in which I am involved. In this interview, I noted that those who persistently raise their voices against the suffocative atmosphere, pressure and tyranny by the Erdoğan regime and the AKP government, despite the obvious threats and risks, face living "butterfly lives." Frankly, a better phrase did not occur to me that would better describe the fact that the existing situation in the country is graver than the "pigeon uneasiness" Hrant Dink experienced just before he was slaughtered by the deep state networks.

Butterfly lives… Those who have the courage to raise their objections to injustice, unlawfulness, oppression, tyranny and massacres going on in this country which has been considerably deprived of mercy under the governance by the rulers who have lost their fairness altogether, especially for the last few years, live without being sure of seeing the next morning. Indeed, they know that it is a matter of time before those who are bold enough to object to unfairness are accused with unfounded and unrelated charges with arbitrary directives from the Erdoğan regime and the AKP government. Then, police raids, detentions and arrests will follow… Then come the so-called judicial investigations with foregone conclusions which will last for years while those who are arrested at a moment's notice live their lingering days in prison or those who are still outside live under relentless surveillance…

If there are still those who ask for rights and freedoms despite all these threats and risks of imprisonment or care about the victimization of others, then time will come for more gruesome and deterrent methods. There are always mafia-like crime syndicates that are given a sort of de facto impunity and whose unlawful acts are given a green light. These crime syndicates, infamous for their agency in numerous bloody acts in the past, fantasize about "taking a shower in the blood" of the people they publicly threaten. Is it unlikely for these criminals to target those who dare live butterfly lives in defense of rights and freedoms of others?

Let me then ask here the following: Which is more unbearable: leading a fragile butterfly life with awareness of the fact that their own rights and freedoms and even the right to life may be destroyed while they defend the right to life and freedoms of thought/expression/the press/faith or leading a real butterfly life without caring about the future for a few fleeting days? It is of course hard to lead a butterfly life on purpose… But doesn't our human nature force us to raise our voice against unfairness and tyranny at the risk of leading butterfly lives?

For instance, isn't it worth living a butterfly life by rejecting the way those who call for sensibility for the lives of civilians are antagonized as "traitors" although those antagonizers are supposed to account for their treacherous negligence of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist organization growing stronger despite sincerely made warnings?

Or isn't it worth living a butterfly life to say "Let the Miray baby live" or "Let the corpse of the Taybet mother not stay in the streets for days" by raising objection to massacres and deaths of innocent people? Isn't it worth leading a butterfly life by trying to preserve our human qualities by calling on "armored vehicles not to fire on" the civilians with white flags who sorrowfully try to bury their relatives who were killed either by the PKK terrorist organization or by the legal bullets from the state's law enforcement authorities?

Or isn't it worth living a butterfly life by showing the courage to say, "Do not be part of the dirty war going on in Syria and Iraq and do not lend direct or indirect support to the radical terrorist organizations that behead or incinerate people or sell young girls and women"?

Isn't it worth living a butterfly life by daring to say: “Do not indulge in corruption, theft, bribery; do not plunder public goods; do not waste taxes for unmannerly luxury and shameless ostentation and malicious pomp and display; do not confiscate people's property immorally; do not seize the most successful banks and companies like invasive cannibals; do not oppress the people who don't think like you or who refuse to become part of your oppression and who are honorable enough to refrain from flattering you by making them lose their jobs; do not destroy free media outlets through unethical methods; do not threaten dignified and honorable journalists, intellectuals and scholars with death or arbitrary imprisonment; do not tyrannize benevolent people just because of your unfounded hatred for other people for being caught red handed committing sins or crimes; do not tell lies with immoral hypocrisy; do not slander innocent people with shamelessness; do not devise witch hunts with dishonorable plans that would make even Satan envious.”

So why don't we see millions of varicolored butterflies filling the skies to herald hope for life for others at the expense of sacrificing their lives in the oases of hope that appear suddenly out of nowhere in this country which has turned into a wasteland of mercilessness, death, bloodshed and tyranny?

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 24 January 2016, Sunday