Con­cern­ing Turkey, there are words one is well advised to use as head­ers in every arti­cle, video, analy­sis or doc­u­men­tary: “fol­low­ing the 2016 coup…”. I will respect the rule and thus begin.

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Fol­low­ing the 2016 coup in Turkey…

In prin­ci­ple, I should date the start of the State reper­es­sion occur­ring in Turkey and its pro­ces­sion of arrests, tri­als, incar­cer­a­tions, des­ti­tu­tions… and more, to… July 2016.

Let’s look at a few recent “affairs” now set­tled or still before the courts through the lens of this recur­ring explanation.

The Özgür Gündem trial

For details, I refer you to the numer­ous arti­cles pro­vid­ed by Kedis­tan on the top­ic. But let’s take a sin­gle exam­ple in this tri­al, that of d’Aslı Erdoğan, recent­ly acquit­ted. Her case sum­ma­rizes the entire indict­ment per­fect­ly. It referred excplicite­ly to writ­ings and events pri­or to 2016 and, under the label of “ter­ror­ism” attached to them, the ref­er­ence was to the “Kur­dish question”…

This exam­ple may appear inad­e­quate since the news­pa­per, shut down since 2016 was always a “his­tor­i­cal” press instru­ment for Kur­dish expression.

The imprisonment of Kurdish deputies

The lift­ing of par­lia­men­tary immu­ni­ty that allowed the arrest and impris­on­ment of a num­ber of HDP deputies occurred in May 2016. A “dis­guised coup d’é­tat”, wrote Kedis­tan. The failed coup occurred mid-July.

The Gezi trial and Osman Kavala

As its name indi­cates, the incrim­i­nat­ing events go back to Gezi (2013). Osman Kavala was arrest­ed in 2017 and accused of hav­ing called for and sup­port­ed the “upris­ing”. The arrest came after the coup but was not linked to it thus far, even if a pros­e­cu­tor now seems to have found a new accu­sa­tion con­cern­ing pur­port­ed links with the Broth­er­hood of preach­er Fetul­lah Gülen, the bet­ter to re-imprison the one who had final­ly been freed.

Jailed, “purged” academics

In Jan­u­ary 2016, the “Aca­d­e­mics for Peace” signed an appeal that would lead them into a hell of repres­sion under every guise. What was this peace they were call­ing for? The ref­er­ence was explicite­ly to the 2015 mas­sacres in Cizre, Nusay­bin…exac­tions, states of siege and destruc­tions, and to the attacks such as the one in Ankara on Octo­ber 10 2015.

Massacres, exactions, war

Undoubt­ed­ly, there was a blood­bath in July 2016. But the exac­tions, destruc­tions and mas­sacres against the Kur­dish pop­u­la­tions were com­mit­ted whole­sale in 2015–2016 and con­sti­tute so many war crimes, some of which could cer­tain­ly be described in judi­cial terms as crimes against human­i­ty. It is of pub­lic knowl­edge that the mil­i­tary com­man­ders that ordered their per­pe­tra­tion were in a major­i­ty “involved” in the failed coup d’é­tat of July 2016…

The purges

These are explicite­ly relat­ed to the failed coup d’é­tat. Purges of aca­d­e­mics, civ­il ser­vants, mil­i­tary per­son­nel and plain cit­i­zens. Reg­u­lar arrests, tri­als, jail­ings or ban­ish­ments. Decrees then fol­lowed but were then mixed into the great caul­dron of the fight against the Gülen Broth­er­hood, accused of hav­ing incit­ed and exe­cut­ed the attempt­ed coup, mix­ing in oppo­nents, includ­ing as many Kurds or friends of the Kur­dish move­ment as true ex-friends of yes­ter­day’s Gulenists.

I end my list of exam­ples here and ask myself again about these words “fol­low­ing the 2016 coup.”
It becomes obvi­ous that the facts raise more ques­tions about the “nature of the coup d’é­tat” than they estab­lish the date of State repres­sion or of the “drift­ing to author­i­tar­i­an­ism”, expres­sions often includ­ed in the so-called key to the analy­sis of Turkey the ref­er­ence to the month of July 2016 seems to provide.

And I take the risk of pro­vid­ing a key that would fit the lock this time: the with­draw­al from the “peace process” in 2015, or “res­o­lu­tion process” on the Kur­dish ques­tion, less than a year fol­low­ing the elec­tion of Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan to the pres­i­den­cy in August 2014, and the begin­ning of the split in the alliance with the Gülen Broth­er­hood over sor­did ques­tions of finances and of corruption.

This famous “2016 coup” is thus a false key with which to analyse Erdo­gan’s poli­cies and even serves as a means to bury the issue by cre­at­ing a kind of nov­el oppos­ing nice democ­rats and nasty dic­ta­tors, avoid­ing the nation­al­is­tic and exclu­sion­ary nature of Turkey, of which Erdo­gan has become the true rep­re­sen­ta­tive now that he wears the costume.

If one thing should stay in mind about this failed coup, it is not see­ing it as the cause or the trig­ger to State repres­sion, but rather like a easy and con­ve­nient excuse for it. Before all else, this con­tro­ver­sial coup sig­nals the end of an alliance and the mani­a­cal rein­force­ment of Turk­ish nation­al­ism. And this nation­al­ism is not only the alliance with the MHP’s Grey Wolves, but also pro­vides telling evi­dence that, in order to insure its polit­i­cal sur­vival, the Kemal­ist oppo­si­tion is ready to sub­mit to the most abject abdi­ca­tions, no mat­ter what polit­i­cal brag­ging its politi­cians may pro­duce. Repres­sion left, right and cen­tre is thus made eas­i­er in the years fol­low­ing 2016. It is the very nature of this failed coup d’é­tat that must be exam­ined and what it means in the polit­i­cal strat­e­gy of those in power.

Omit­ting to men­tion that the rise to pow­er of the Pres­i­dent of the Turk­ish democ­ra­ture now more author­i­tar­i­an than ever and pro­mot­ing nation­al­is­tic hys­te­ria, occurred with the bless­ing of a num­ber of Euro­pean coun­tries and aid and finan­cial inte­gra­tion from the EU, is to fail under­stand­ing that the failed coup was but a stage in the process (break­ing with yes­ter­day’s ally, the Gülen move­ment). It is in the very nature of this polit­i­cal regime to engen­der repres­sion vio­lence, polar­iza­tion, dis­crim­i­na­tions and exclusions…and, in this, the Repub­lic’s orig­i­nal Kemal­ism served as an example.

I don’t claim to have cov­ered the issue in a few sen­tences. For those who wish to explore more deeply the top­ics bare­ly touched on here, the web­site has a search func­tion by key­word that should sat­is­fy your curios­i­ty. And I can­not fail to refer you to, the web­site of our friend Eti­enne Copeaux, his­to­ri­an spe­cial­iz­ing in Turkey, an essen­tial which taught me every­thing. (In French only, unfor­tu­nate­ly… at least, for the time being.)

Fol­low­ing the 2016 coup…the rest is censored.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…