When can signing a declaration be considered violence?

THE EDITORIAL BOARD
ISTANBUL
Published 18.01.2016 00:00
Updated 18.01.2016 01:02

Never, ever. Signing a declaration can never be considered violence. Signing a declaration is an essential right of all citizens and we defend this right under all circumstances, irrespective of its consequences.

It is only natural for many citizens of Turkey to feel the obligation to join in and sign declarations published in their thousands in many different platforms. Last week, 1,128 academics signed a declaration under the heading "Academics for Peace." The most disturbing part of the declaration was the fact that the signatories made the call for peace to the state under the assumption that the state itself is targeting civilians while not mentioning the PKK, in total disregard of the fact that the PKK is responsible for the collapse of security, peace and social order in the region.

The current state of affairs in Turkey creates a suitable and legitimate environment for the issuing of these declarations and counter-declarations, which are subsequently reported in the media. One interesting fact of our time is that only those that are anti-state, anti-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or anti-Justice and Development Party (AK Party) attract significant attention.

Unfortunately, for this day and age, accessibility and networking are more effective than the voice of real people. As a result, the declaration of the academics was propagated through slogans and networking without reading its content. Some of the signatories later admitted that they had signed it without reading it.

Turkey is a haven for some academics known more for their activism than their achievements in their professional fields. The same is true for some journalists. It is a typical example of third-world country in which academic productivity is equated with anti-state activism.

It is possible to describe the aggressive nature of the rhetoric used by these academics as being based on their ideological ambitions, their failures to find an appropriate channel to ensure their views dominate the nation's politics and a theoretical anti-state dogma. According to this state of mind, the state is categorically wrong and corrupt in its use of power, irrespective of what it is faced with.

At a time when many countries are accused of anti-migrant and racist policies and xenophobia, we understand and respect, but do not agree with such criticism directed at the Turkish government. All arguments should be tempered, balanced comparisons with critical thinking. The Turkish government and the security operations it has launched are not the biggest threat to humanity when one thinks about 4-year-old Mevlüde İrem Çiftçi and her father, both of whom were killed by the PKK. Just consider Ramazan İnce and 3-month-old Miray İnce, killed in Cizre, which was under curfew for a month at the time, as they were trying to reach an ambulance sent by the state.

Terrorism and the failed states in our region that foster and spread this disease are, without doubt, the biggest threat of our time.

The opinions of some academics drunk with revolutionary romanticism, pontificating about how unfair the system is while having never stepped outside their homes one morning under curfew or been forced to jump over a ditch dug by armed militants, or been too scared to send their children to school while thinking which school will be set alight that day, can only be described as archaic and conformist.

This declaration carries no weight among Kurds or Turks living in regions where clashes are currently taking place, and is based only on outdated views of the state's proclivity to perpetrate violence. It is a fact that those who coined the term "academics in support of Kurds" have no clue about the content of the declaration in question.

It is strange that this declaration, based on the sentiment "let no more children die," fails to object to the PKK's habit of arming 10 year olds or declaring its militants street or neighborhood commanders.

Daily Sabah invites the signatories of this declaration to visit the region for a true assessment of the facts on the ground and just try to stroll through the cities and towns in the southeast made unlivable by the PKK. A simple chat with the people of the region who suffer under the constant PKK terror should provide them with a realistic perspective of the issue at hand.

To reiterate, there is a constant need to remind the state of its responsibilities. The legitimate use of force can only be acceptable when it is used to eliminate a greater evil. As it stands, the PKK has become an evil that threatens the entire social fabric. The European Court of Human Rights has rejected petitions calling for the lifting of the curfews in Cizre, Şırnak and Sur in Diyarbakır.

Turkey's terrible past record of human rights abuses, extrajudicial killings, proper respect for judicial procedure and protection of innocent civilians is now definitely much improved and will improve even further. Despite all progress, examples such as the now-closed Camp Iguana or Camp X-ray at Guantanamo Bay still occur and their ghastly memories still linger in our consciousness. There is still significant room for improvement around the world in this regard.

Everyone needs to put their thinking caps on. These academics who propose solutions outside of the state's purview, divorced from reality, should really ask themselves whether they want another failed state in this region.

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