Kurdish acknowledgement of participation in the Armenian genocide of 1915 along with Kurdish municipal efforts to atone have grown tremendously in the past 20 years. Adnan Çelik draws on his fieldwork and personal experience to explain how Kurdish memory work—drawing on knowledge transmitted for more than a century through Kurdish language, communal memories and traces left in the landscape—is making space for all oppressed groups in Turkey to seek justice. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”
Kurdish communities in the Middle East have been struggling for independence, autonomy and civil rights since at least the 1880s. While Kurdish movements across the region have suffered from fragmentation, the more formidable obstacle to fulfilling Kurdish aspirations are regional and global geopolitics. Djene Rhys Bajalan explains the many challenges, both historically and in the present day. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”
Kurdish acknowledgement of participation in the Armenian genocide of 1915 along with Kurdish municipal efforts to atone have grown tremendously in the past 20 years. Adnan Çelik draws on his fieldwork and personal experience to explain how Kurdish memory work—drawing on knowledge transmitted for more than a century through Kurdish language, communal memories and traces left in the landscape—is making space for all oppressed groups in Turkey to seek justice. Forthcoming in MER 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”
Kurdish communities in the Middle East have been struggling for independence, autonomy and civil rights since at least the 1880s. While Kurdish movements across the region have suffered from fragmentation, the more formidable obstacle to fulfilling Kurdish aspirations are regional and global geopolitics. Djene Rhys Bajalan explains the many challenges, both historically and in the present day. This article is from the forthcoming issue of Middle East Report, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”
Turkish military incursions into Syria since 2016 are shaping power dynamics not only in Syria but also domestically. Turkish state building practices in Syria are changing the demographics of the border area in Syria and benefiting Turkish industry and political elites. At home, Ankara is suppressing Kurdish political power and cracking down on anti-war activists. Sinem Adar explains who gains and who loses from the cross-border interventions.
Pharmacists in Turkey, like the author’s parents, are working overtime to serve their communities and to adapt quickly to shifting government orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. While steps are being taken to mitigate the impact of the virus on the most vulnerable, various forms of inequality entrenched across the country mean that certain groups suffer much more than others.
Turkey’s authoritarian President Erdoǧan’s attempt to manipulate Istanbul’s recent mayoral election led to a humiliating defeat. Despite the tight grip Erdoǧan and the AKP appear to have over Turkish politics, Turkey’s population is much more fractious and agitated by the regime than previously known.
Turkish voters sent a strong message to its long-standing ruling party and its leader on March 31, 2019 that the government’s authoritarian turn has not fully succeeded. In nationwide municipal elections, for the first time in a quarter century, the political movement largely associated with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan lost control over both the country’s economic and political capitals, as well as numerous other districts throughout the country. The symbolic and economic significance of losing both capitals, especially Istanbul, cannot be discounted. This article explains why this happened.
Mücella Yapıcı is an architect and activist, known for her work against urban renewal projects and environmental destruction in Turkey. She is the secretary and spokesperson of the activist group Taksim Solidarity, which was one of the leading organizations during the June 2013 Gezi Park protests. MERIP editorial committee member Elif Babül spoke to Yapıcı on June 22, 2018 in Istanbul at the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, shortly before the 2018 presidential elections took place. The interview has been edited and condensed for publication.
In 2017 İhsan Fazlıoğlu, an Islamist professor of philosophy at Istanbul Medeniyet University, was visited by a group of concerned teachers and parents from the İmam Hatip high school (a government-funded secondary school that trains Muslim preachers) he once attended. The visitors wanted his advice on the growing trend of deism and atheism among young people and what was to be done about it. The professor responded with a shocking observation of his own: In the past year, of the many religious students who came to consult with him, no fewer than 17 women had confided that although they continued to wear a hijab (headscrarf) they had left Islam and considered themselves atheists.
Government-funded religious İmam Hatip schools have expanded considerably across Turkey since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came to power in 2002: from 84,000 students in 450 schools in 2002 to 1.3 million students in over 4,000 schools by 2017. The Ministry of National Education (MEB) justifies this expansion as a natural response to what they claim to be “high demand from parents” but recent reports reveal that these schools draw about 50–60 percent less students than their capacity each year.
Often peppered with religious references, “family values” rhetoric has become a trademark of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002. His frequent encouragement of early marriage and criticism of childless women illustrate an ever-expanding repertoire of conservative pronouncements regarding gender, reproduction and the family. During an iftar dinner in 2014, for example, Erdoğan urged female college students not to be picky in selecting a prospective spouse “because our dear prophet advised us to get married and to procreate, so that he could take pride in the sizable presence of the ummah in the afterlife in comparison to other [religious] communities.” At a ceremony hosted by the Women and Democracy Association in 2016, he claimed that “A woman who abstains from maternity by saying ‘I have a job’ means that she is actually denying her femininity … She is lacking, she is an incomplete person, no matter how successful she is in the business world.”
The Turkish energy sector—companies involved in the exploration and development of oil or gas reserves, drilling and refining, or integrated power utility companies including renewable energy, coal or nuclear power—has experienced major and systemic transformation and growth since the early 2000s under the rule of consecutive Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments.
Turkey has undergone major socio-economic transformations that have generated numerous contradictions since the 1980s. One of the most significant has been Turkey’s transformation from a predominately rural and agrarian society to a largely urban society as it enters the new millennium. The fast pace of urbanization, coupled with a decrease in agricultural employment and an increase in service sector employment transformed Turkey into a largely working-class society by the mid-2000s. This unprecedented urban and socio-economic development has in turn generated, and in some cases heightened, pressing social and economic problems such as unemployment, stark income inequality and restricted access to adequate housing.
Academic freedom has always been limited and under threat by the state in Turkey. But since the beginning of 2016, academic freedom in Turkey—and the broader field of higher education—has been subject to a sustained campaign of state repression that is unprecedented in the history of the Turkish Republic.
On March 21, 2013 in the symbolic Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, on the symbolic new year’s day of Newroz, in front of a crowd composed of almost a million people and broadcast live by most Turkish news channels, a letter from the imprisoned Kurdistan Worker’s Party’s (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan was read. The letter urged Kurds to end their nearly 30-year armed struggle against the Turkish state and open a new page for democratic politics within the framework of Turkish sovereignty.
Turkish foreign policy throughout the Cold War was limited and largely predictable: narrowly focused on national security and preserving the sanctity of its borders while hewing to a predominantly Western orientation. Turkey’s foreign policy reflected the constraints of the bipolar international system, which granted little room for smaller powers to adopt independent policies. As such, Turkey pursued membership in key Western multilateral frameworks (the Council of Europe 1949, the OECD 1948 and NATO 1952) in order to improve its negotiating capacity; to enhance its security and status; and to compensate for its relative lack of an independent foreign policy. Membership in these Euro-Atlantic institutions also enabled Turkish policymakers to assert their affiliation with Western culture.
Today, the crisis of Turkey is both a crisis of capitalism and a crisis of the Republic.
To the extent that it is a crisis of capitalism, of a financialized regime of accumulation, its own internal business cycles are synchronous with the cycles of global capitalism. Even though the current economic crisis takes the form of stagflation (a high inflation rate combined with recession), its driving factor is the increased default risk of the highly-leveraged corporate sector. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), governing an economy fully-integrated to the international financial system since 2002, enjoyed the benefits of global liquidity as it consolidated its hegemony. Today, as the crisis hits corporations and households alike, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP resort to anti-imperialist jargon to pass the proverbial buck, and cover up their helplessness in the face of the vast scope of the crisis.