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Tahrir, Taksim, Tempelhof: Between Political Fields

[Tempelhofer Park. Image by author.]

Sitting in Engels—one among many of Neukölln's cosy, candlelit, hipster-friendly cafés—I read on a sticker the slogan: “Tah[r]ir, Taksim, Tempelhof: Das Feld gehört uns allen!” (Tahrir, Taksim, Tempelhof: The Field belongs to us all!). Tempelhof itself is a former airport located in former West Berlin, famous for its mythological role in the Berlin airlift during the Cold War. The airport was closed in 2008, but its vast runways and grass fields were re-opened to the public in 2010. People have adopted these as a space for outdoor sports, from kiting to cycling, while some skateboarders make best use of Tempelhof’s almost perfectly flat runways by attaching wind surf ...

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Devletlesen AKP, Degismeyen Devlet?

[Istanbul, 17 March 2014. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel, File)]

Devletleşen AKP, Değişmeyen Devlet? Türkiye’yi Anlama Uğraşında Devlet-Toplum İkiliğinin Ötesine Geçebilmek Zor zamanlardan geçiyoruz. Sadece sosyal medyada değil, anaakım medyada da bir telaş, belirsizlik ve şaşkınlık var. Sokak, zaten, alabildiğine hareketli, karmaşık ve kafa karıştırıcı. Takvim yapraklarında çeşitli tarihleri belirleyip kilitleniyoruz: Berkin Elvan’ın içimizi titreten cenazesi, Başbakan Erdoğan’ın nefret saçtığı konuşmaları, Fethullah Gülen’in bedduaları, art arda sökün eden “tape”ler ve tabii ki 30 Mart seçimleri…Hayatımız, ki izin verirseniz buna Türkiye gündemine kilitlenip kalmış bizim gibi diaspora sakinlerini de ekleyelim, daimî bir ...

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New Texts Out Now: Leila Piran, Institutional Change in Turkey: The Impact of European Union Reforms on Human Rights and Policy

[Cover of Leila Piran,

Leila Piran, Institutional Change in Turkey: The Impact of European Union Reforms on Human Rights and Policy (New York: Palgrave, 2013). Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Leila Piran (LP): I wanted to write about democratization and political reform in a Muslim-majority country. Turkey represents a noteworthy example because of the rich history of reforms, ranging from Ottoman reforms aimed at modernization of the Empire to the ongoing Republican reforms starting in 1923. In general, police reform is one of the most challenging projects for any country to undertake, particularly since police departments are authoritarian and hierarchical institutions, ...

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Turkey Media Roundup (April 8)

[Posters of CHP candidate Mansur Yavas blow in the wind as thousands gather outside Turkey’s Supreme Election Council building in Ankara, 1 April 2014. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Turkey and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Turkey Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to turkey@jadaliyya.com by Sunday night of every week.] English Local Elections Who Won and Who Lost in Figures Sedat Ergin analyzes the election statistics. Turkish PM Erdoğan's Post-Election "Balcony Speech" Erdoğan’s speech from the party headquater’s balcony after elections. Erdoğan: Political Enemies Will "Pay the Price" Fehim Taştekin argues that “more than half of the ...

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Turkey Media Roundup (April 1)

[Poster of Prime Minister Erdoğan on an election billboard in Istanbul, 27 March. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Turkey and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Turkey Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to turkey@jadaliyya.com by Sunday night of every week.] English Graft Crisis, Ban on Twitter/YouTube, and Local Elections The Battle for Turkey’s Future (1)-(2) The Economist writes that “An increasingly autocratic prime minister is losing touch with voters and damaging his country.” Turkey’s Prime Minister Acts Desperately to Hold onto his Power The Washington Post, in its editorial, argues that ...

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Witnessing Gezi (Video)

[Still from

Gezi Tanıklığı / Witnessing Gezi Camera, director: Emin Özmen Director: Barış Koca Editor: Soner Emanet Original soundtrack: Berkant Kılıçkap Subtitle: Engin Önder Graphic Design: Ozan Şanal Organization: Agence Le Journal Gezi Tanıklığı / Witnessing Gezi was created with the recordings of photojournalist Emin Özmen, who witnessed the protests against the urban development plan for Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park. Subsequently, the protests sparked supporting strikes across Turkey, turning into a resistance movement of great importance for the country. Witnessing Gezi shows the human aspect of this civil resistance, a crucial event of the last thirty years in ...

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Turkey Media Roundup (March 25)

[A twitter logo on an iPhone display is seen in front of the Turkish flag. Photo by Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Turkey and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Turkey Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to turkey@jadaliyya.com by Sunday night of every week.] English Ban Over Twitter Erdoğan Lost His Twitter Battle—Very Badly Murat Yetkin points out that millions of Twitter users hit back and defied the restrictions, including President Abdullah Gül. It’s Not Twitter, It’s The Eclipse Of Reason Alternative Informatics Association’s statement on the Twitter ban. Turkey’s Twitter Ban is an Unjustifiable ...

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All Politics Is Local: Mustafa Sarigul and the CHP (Part Three)

[Sarıgül in the thick of it. Image via reubensilverman.wordpress.com]

All Politics Is Local: Mustafa Sarıgül and the CHP (Part Three) [Part one of this article can be found here; part two can be found here.] Even before the campaign had started, there had been whispers that Sarıgül would make a better CHP General President than Deniz Baykal. At the time, he had dismissed such suggestions, saying, “I am bound to the problems of Şişli for another five years. We already have a President.”[1] Now, however, his tone was changing: asked how he had won, he explained, “We have brought back the spirit and the conviction of the 1974 CHP.”[2] That was an era before Baykal’s faction had formed. The implication was clear: the time had come ...

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All Politics Is Local: Mustafa Sarigul and the CHP (Part One)

[Mustafa Sarıgül. Image via reubensilverman.wordpress.com]

All Politics Is Local: Mustafa Sarıgül and the CHP (Part One) [People ask,] “Why are you always beating up on Sarıgül?” Let’s start the matter from here. I ask you: in this country has there ever been a party like the Republican People’s Party, which—without having done a bit of work—turns to the left for its votes? There’s never been such a freeloading party…I don’t know how many hundred suits [Sarıgül] has—he’s changing them twice a day. He doesn’t even know how many stylists he has. Can benefits come to the workers from all this? Can we approve of such a thing?...A social democrat can’t be like this. - Sırrı Süreyya Önder To many of its detractors, the ...

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Is There a Way Out of Here? or, Why I Am With the HDP

[Image via bianet.org]

Since the first days of the graft and corruption crisis, I have found myself thinking about a section from Haydar Darıcı’s masters thesis, completed under Leyla Neyzi’s supervision at Sabancı University. The thesis concerns itself with Kurdish kids incarcerated under the anti-terrorism regulations of 2006, otherwise known as stone-throwing kids (taş atan çocuklar). In interviews conducted in Adana, children between ages of ten to eighteen talked to Darıcı about their politicization, along with migration, repression, poverty, discrimination in the city and in the schools, and thousands more of their burdens; at some point, one of them said: “Adults do not understand ...

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Uzun tutukluluk, acik hapishane

[Agos logo]

Uzun tutukluluk, açık hapishane Normalde insanın kendi küçük hayatı önceliklidir. Önce bir o var olacak ki sıra dünyaya gelsin. Ama bireyin üzerini her alanda itina ile silmiş bir memlekette, elbette, güncel politika, sıradan günlük hayatımızın üzerinden de silindirle geçer. Bize kendi acı ve mutluluklarımızı, tasa ve heyecanlarımızı şımarıklık gibi duyumsatır. Sırası mıdır şimdi böyle şeylerin?.. O şeylere hiç sıra gelmeden, bir bakmışsın ömür tükenmiş. Kepenk açan esnaftan kontak anahtarını döndüren şoföre, okul yolundaki öğrenciden vapur, metro ahalisine herkesin büyük politikaya dair lafı vardır. Lafımız vardır ama dahlimiz yoktur. Sonsuz bir maruz bırakılma olarak ...

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Monument of the Unknown Student

[A banner at Berkin Elvan's funeral. Photo by Kerem Uzel / NarPhotos.]

[For Berkin Elvan, who died on 11 March 2014 at seven in the morning. He had been in a coma for 269 days after having been shot by a gas canister while walking to buy bread during the Gezi Protests. He was fourteen years old when he was shot, and fifteen years old when he died. We are publishing a translation of Ece Ayhan’s poem "The Monument of the Unknown Student" in his memory. Ece Ayhan (1931-2002) wrote this poem in 1973. When he was asked how he was influenced to write it, he answered: "A student called Battal Mehetoğlu was murdered by the police; he was a student leader in the Architecture and Engineering Academy in the 1970s. At his funeral, ...

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Turkey Media Roundup (April 15)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Turkey and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Turkey Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to turkey@jadaliyya.com by Sunday night of every week.] English Elections’ Aftershocks and Constitutional Court’s Judgements Erdoğan's Missed Opportunity to Mix Islam and Democracy in Turkey “By winning the elections, Erdoğan appears to ...

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Notes on Turkey's Local Elections

After weeks of tension and uncertainty, there was an almost carnival atmosphere at polling stations in Istanbul on 30 March—at least during the daytime. The sun shone from a crisp, blue sky, and there was a sense among government supporters and detractors alike that Turkey’s long spiral into political crisis since the outbreak of anti-government protests last summer could somehow be arrested or reversed by the one thing the country has long prided itself on doing well: elections. News channels carried ...

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Digital Platforms, Analog Elections: How Civic Groups Are Trying to Bring Back Democracy in Turkey

When Gezi protesters occupied the park last summer and took their frustration with the government to the streets, Prime Minister Erdoğan told them to “be patient and face off at the ballot box.” It was exactly Erdoğan’s reductive framing of democracy, which limits political legitimacy to elections and takes an uncompromising, polarizing stance against opposition, that Gezi protesters stood against. Nonetheless, unlike similar political movements in the United States and Western Europe that have abandoned ...

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Asylum and the Right to the City: Lessons from Turkey’s Syrian Guests and Other Urban Refugees

The mass movement of Syrians fleeing civil war to neighboring countries has become called the “Syrian refugee crisis.” The sheer volume of refugees brings up questions not only regarding these countries’ financial means and organizational capabilities but also, more importantly, regarding national identity and regional belonging. For example, reports on Jordan point to national concerns about the possible changes in the country’s demographic balance, while refugee rights activists critique Turkey’s open ...

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Media On the Margins: An Interview with Alex Christie-Miller about Turkey's Attack on the Media Beyond Twitter

On this edition of "Media on the Margins," Malihe speaks with Istanbul-based freelance journalist Alexander Christie-Miller shortly after Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's ban on Twitter went into effect and before the country's elections. On 20 March, during a campaign rally ten days before the local elections, Erdogan said, “We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic!” ...

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Alevizing Gezi

Berkin Elvan’s funeral services, which were held at the Okmeydani Cemevi on 12 March, once again raised the question of why all six youths killed during the Gezi Protests—or, if we are to approach the Gezi process within a broader framework, why seven out of eight youths killed—were Alevîs. Indeed, the question is not a new one; months prior to Berkin’s funeral, Nagehan Alçı, one of the government’s staunchest supporters in the media, had claimed on a television program that the Gezi Protests were ...

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The Irrepressible Charm of the State: Dershane Closures and the Domestic War for Power in Turkey

The Turkish parliament's recent passing of a bill to shut down private prepatory schools (dershane) by 1 September 2015 is the last front in the all-out domestic war between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Gülen community. Initially announced by the Turkish prime minister on 9 September 2012, the law's first draft was published by the movement's daily Zaman last November. This re-ignited a heated debate amongst intellectuals, politicians, and the broader public across the country, ...

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All Politics Is Local: Mustafa Sarigul and the CHP (Part Two)

All Politics Is Local: Mustafa Sarıgül and the CHP (Part Two) [Part one of this article can be found here.] By 1987, Turkish politics was returning to its old patterns. Though the new constitution remained in effect and General Evren still presided over the state as president, the five-year ban from politics for leaders like Ecevit and Baykal was at an end and they had begun to plot their returns. Sarıgül too was busy positioning himself for the upcoming elections by recruiting large numbers of new ...

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The State v. Individual: On State Crimes and Judicial Parody in Turkey

Let me make the hardest list of my life, for those who have not followed what has happened in Turkey during and in the wake of the Gezi Protests that began in the summer of 2013. On 1 June, Ethem Sarisuluk, a twenty-six-year-old laborer and activist, was shot in the head by a policeman in Ankara during the Gezi Park protests. He died after spending two weeks in the intensive care unit. On 2 June, Ali Ismail Korkmaz, a nineteen-year-old student, was beaten brutally by a group of men in the city of ...

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The Turkish Political Map in the Run-Up to Local Elections

[This report was published by the Arab Center for Research & Policy Studies on 13 March 2014.] Introduction The upcoming local elections in Turkey are the most significant in decades, with the intensifying contest between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition parties making this set of elections critical. Turkey’s opposition parties, in particular, are mobilizing all their efforts to take advantage of the AKP’s troubles to end its monopoly of power, which has lasted for ...

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Turkey Media Roundup (March 18)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Turkey and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Turkey Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to turkey@jadaliyya.com by Sunday night of every week.] English Farewell to Berkin Fifteen-Year-Old Gezi Victim Berkin Elvan Dies After 269 Days in Coma Berkin Elvan, a teenager who has been in a coma since being hit by a police tear-gas ...

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'Seni bilen hayran, bilmeyen dusman' or, Why Erdogan Remains so Popular

“Seni bilen hayran, bilmeyen düşman” or, Why Erdoğan Remains so Popular At a rally in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district last Saturday, members of the all-female audience were whipped up like teenagers at a pop concert long before the main speaker arrived. “Who are we waiting for?” teased the compere. “Recep Tayyip Erdoğan!” they roared in reply. When I asked some of the women what they liked about Turkey’s Prime Minister, most struggled at first to respond, as if his qualities were so numerous that ...

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