On Decem­ber 29th last, a video record­ed in March 24 2017 in a police acad­e­my (uniden­ti­fied thus far) began cir­cu­lat­ing on social media. The video shows an end of train­ing cer­e­mo­ny dur­ing which the police take their oath of office.

Français | English

Repeat what I say out loud:
Bis­mil­lahirrah­manir­rahim [In the name of Allah clement and mer­ci­ful] may this be an oath to Allah who gives exis­tence to all things, who fills hearts with the spir­it of faith, to the Koran, to the prophets, to the flag, to the weapon. May my mar­tyrs sleep in peace, may my vet­er­ans be reas­sured. May this be revenge, revenge, revenge. If we for­get, may our blood dry out, our blood dry out, our blood dry out. May Allah pro­tect the Turk, may Allah pro­tect the Turk. Amen, amen, amen.”

This oath, the words of which are not those of the offi­cial oath, pro­voked strong reac­tions in pub­lic opin­ion, includ­ing from some policemen.

In fact, the offi­cial words of the oath tak­en by the police are: “I take this oath on my integri­ty and my hon­or, that I shall remain faith­ful to the con­sti­tu­tion of the Repub­lic of Turkey; to the prin­ci­ples and reforms of Atatürk, to the Turk­ish nation­al­ism quot­ed in the Con­sti­tu­tion; that I will apply the Laws of the Repub­lic of Turkey, by being at the ser­vice of the Nation, by remain­ing impar­tial and faith­ful to the prin­ci­ples of equal­i­ty; that I shall adopt the nation­al, moral, human and cul­tur­al val­ues of the Turk­ish Nation, and that I shall work for their progress; that know­ing my duties and respon­si­bil­i­ties to the Repub­lic of Turkey which is a State of sec­u­lar Right, demo­c­ra­t­ic and nation­al, based on Human Rights and the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of the Con­sti­tu­tion, I will behave accordingly.” 

 You might say this isn’t bet­ter, but still…

Fol­low­ing the reac­tions, the Acad­e­my “respect­ful­ly informed” the pub­lic  in a dec­la­ra­tion, spec­i­fy­ing that “thanks to the author­i­ty of the Min­istry, find­ings were col­lect­ed, nec­es­sary pro­ce­dures begun and admin­is­tra­tive mea­sures tak­en” in this matter.

More­over, on Jan­u­ary 7 2020, Ali Kenanoğlu deputy for Istan­bul from  the HDP (Peo­ples’ Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty) brought up the top­ic at the Nation­al Assem­bly and sub­mit­ted a motion with a cer­tain num­ber of ques­tions to the Min­is­ter of the Inte­ri­or, Süley­man Soylu:

  1. On whom would the police seek revenge? Against whom is this oath taken?
  2. Where was this oath pronounced?
  3. Do you think the police who took this oath would adopt aggres­sive behav­iors while inter­ven­ing in social demonstrations?
  4. Has an inquiry been opened against those who con­duct­ed this oath tak­ing? If so, what were the results?

Ali Kenanoğlu explains, “These hor­rif­ic images seen on social media gen­er­at­ed tremen­dous indig­na­tion in the pub­lic. What is this hatred and this ambi­tion of revenge all about? Who is the ene­my? On whom will revenge be tak­en? Police with the duty of act­ing in the legal frame­work will be seek­ing revenge on whom and why? See­ing these police men and women con­ceiv­ing of their duty with such feel­ings of revenge make us ques­tion if they will be pro­tec­tors of laws or outlaws.”

And yet again, pre­cise­ly the day fol­low­ing Ali Kenanoğlu’s ques­tion, on Jan­u­ary 8 2020, a love­ly cer­e­mo­ny wor­thy of SS parades was proud­ly pub­lished on sev­er­al accounts of AKP politi­cians or of their supporters.

We would rather share the pub­li­ca­tion denounc­ing this put out by Riseup4Rojava… You can see the same video on the for­mer may­or of Ankara Melih Gökçek’s account. Of course, this oath was tak­en in Ankara, in his town, the one in which he lost the vote for city hall. This does not keep him from writ­ing in all caps: “THIS CEREMONY IS THE FIRST ASSEMBLY TAKING PLACE IN THE LARGEST CONGRESS CENTER IN TURKEY (5 000 PEOPLE) WHICH BY THE WAY WAS BUILT UNDER MY MANDATE. OATH TAKING CEREMONY. IT GIVES YOU GOOSE BUMPS. WE ARE PROUD OF IT.”

And here is the trans­la­tion of the fol­low­ing video. A slight­ly soft­er ver­sion, this time…With almost no revenge left.

- As a promise to the great Turk­ish Nation, Attention!
[the police repeat] -May this be an oath to Allah, to the Koran, to the flag, to the weapon. May my mar­tyrs and vet­er­ans rest assured. May the ezan [the call to prayer] nev­er cease, the flag nev­er be low­ered, the mar­tyrs no longer die, the Coun­try nev­er be divid­ed, May this be an oath, may this be an oath, may this be an oath.
- May your oath be cel­e­brat­ed, your road and your des­tiny opened.”

Finally, this is not exactly new…

You can also read a very thor­ough arti­cle in French by Eti­enne Copeaux pub­lished on Susam Sokak, con­cern­ing the oath of the spe­cial units in Turkey. Dieu est à nos côtés! Le ser­ment des unités spé­ciales (God is on our side! The oath of the spe­cial units).

Or again C’est pour mieux te mas­sacr­er mon enfant (This is the bet­ter to mas­sacre you my child, an arti­cle about oaths in schools, pub­lished dur­ing the mil­i­tary oper­a­tion called “Olive Branch” con­duct­ed against Afrin in 2018 by the Turk­ish army.

If we are to believe Euro­pean polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors, soci­ol­o­gists and “media experts” ram­bling on about the rise of the object known as “pop­ulism” the con­tro­ver­sial con­tours of which they can’t seem to define, these “pop­ulisms” would car­ry with them the demand for strong pow­ers, theoc­ra­cies, democ­ra­tures or dic­ta­tor­ships preach­ing neo-lib­er­al­ism nonethe­less, and a dogged defence of Nation-States in crisis.

From what we can observe, this means a rad­i­cal­iza­tion of order and of its main­te­nance against social move­ments a bit everywhere.

In a word, fas­cisms are spruc­ing up. Vis­i­bly, the make­up kit is full of old tra­di­tions and his­tor­i­cal dross.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Lila Montana
REDACTION | Journaliste
Voyageuse, pho­tographe, jour­nal­iste. Lib­er­taire, fémin­iste, activiste têtue et déterminée.
Trav­eller, pho­tog­ra­ph­er, jour­nal­ist. Lib­er­tar­i­an, fem­i­nist, stub­born and deter­mined activist.