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On July 15th 2016, the whole world had eyes on an attempt­ed coup d’e­tat in Turkey. Since then, it has turned into a kind of his­tor­i­cal mark­er for all and every com­men­tary con­cern­ing repres­sions against oppo­nents to the Erdoğan regime.

Not one press arti­cle, not one com­men­tary, not one analy­sis that does not men­tion “the arrests fol­low­ing the attempt­ed coup d’é­tat in 2016…”

Sim­pli­fy­ing in this way rel­a­tivizes every­thing that came before that day in 2016 and leaves the coup d’é­tat itself unques­tioned as every­thing that fol­lows appears to be a con­se­quence, a “reac­tion” – deeply ana­lyzed of course — but a sim­ple counter against those in pow­er and the State of Turkey. And as icing on the cake, the day itself becomes that of a failed coup d’é­tat by undif­fer­en­ti­at­ed ene­mies of Erdoğan and the Repub­lic, thus re-labelled into oppo­nents from day one onward.

Any­one attempt­ing today to ana­lyze more close­ly this “gift from heav­en” for Erdoğan – one occur­ring just at the right time, to speak more truth­ful­ly — is sus­pect­ed of con­spir­a­cy-mon­ger­ing. We had done so nonethe­less in the heat of the moment on July 16 2016 and Kedis­tan mag­a­zine, then on a main­stream serv­er, was put out of busi­ness for close to fif­teen days. Too many con­nec­tions, and most­ly a tar­get­ed attack against the serv­er. Every­thing per­tain­ing that day to the “Coup d’E­tat” was tar­get­ed along with those social media and accounts in Turkey not using nec­es­sary precautions.

Thus, the coup d’état was not a failure for everyone.

Of course, like any assas­sin eras­ing traces of his crime one after the oth­er, the AKP regime has made any seri­ous and doc­u­ment­ed analy­sis of that day an impos­si­ble ven­ture. All that exists now is an offi­cial hagiog­ra­phy. Fig­ures con­cern­ing vic­tims are mixed togeth­er, and attempt­ing to clar­i­fy the lynch­ings of youths described as sol­diers is use­less. The “heros”, the “mar­tyrs” belong to the nomen­clatu­ra. All the rest being “FETÖ” ene­mies, arrest­ed, dead or locked up since. Attempt­ing to find out if these “recruits” knew what they were doing, who had sent them into this adven­ture, is a lost cause. Many were lynched, the chains of com­mand were dis­solved, wit­ness­es told to be silent or denounced as a mem­ber of the Gülen sect.

The offi­cial nar­ra­tive, the offi­cial July 15 nov­el, dis­trib­uted as a leaflet in schools, talks of the affront against Atatürk’s Repub­lic and its cur­rent rep­re­sen­ta­tives, name­ly Erdoğan and the AKP.

The elab­o­ra­tion and build-up on this tale was the work of many hands.

First of all, on the day itself, this incred­i­ble call to the Peo­ple by Erdoğan, live, invit­ed to do so by a TV anchor-woman.Reacting to the call, this Peo­ple, main­ly beard­ed and reli­gious along with Turk­ish extreme nation­al­ists, invad­ed the the­ater of oper­a­tions of the “coup d’é­tat”, vis­i­bly less-well pre­pared than the one described in the accu­sa­tions at the tri­als which fol­lowed. In fact, there was a blood bath on that day.

Mil­i­tary forces deemed “faith­ful”, Turk­ish forces “main­tain­ing order” con­tributed to turn­ing the winds in favor of the regime, while facil­i­tat­ing the job of Erdoğan’s elect­ed “Peo­ple” on the street.

With­in a few days, the main oppo­si­tion Par­ty, Kemal­ist CHP, had raised the flag of the out­raged Repub­lic. As an excep­tion­al mea­sure, Erdoğan even allowed it to hold a meet­ing in Tak­sim, the square pro­hib­it­ed since the Gezi events; a meet­ing “against the coup d’é­tat”, of course. A good part of the tra­di­tion­al extrem­ist left in Turkey fol­lowed in its wake of “nation­al uni­ty” to the point of rais­ing adverse mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tions with­in Euro­pean left­ists. The HDP alone showed the polit­i­cal clar­i­ty and courage to call for mobi­liza­tion else­where.

Nor did the HDP asso­ciate itself to the High Mass orga­nized on the heel of the event by the Erdoğan regime. The lat­ter, too pleased to see the so-called “social demo­c­ra­t­ic” oppo­si­tion at his feet, did not deny him­self the plea­sure of mak­ing them eat their hat. The entire dossier we devot­ed to these events imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing July 15 along with the trans­la­tion of the speech­es can be found here… Who­ev­er wants clear water goes to the source.

This is where one finds the ori­gin of the appar­ent con­tra­dic­tion between the Ottoman pre­ten­tions of the Turk­ish Reis and his open sup­port of nation­al­ism and Turci­ty, more clear­ly assert­ed than ever. With the dis­in­te­gra­tion of Gülenism, one sees the arrival of the ubiq­ui­tous flag in the large demon­stra­tions and of an aggres­sive exte­ri­or mil­i­tarism.

The fol­low­ing begin­ning of the school year saw the appear­ance of the offi­cial hagiog­ra­phy for the use of chil­dren and adults.

In a few words, as if all this could be sum­ma­rized with­out being car­i­cat­ur­al, the facts, reac­tions and refer­als to the analy­ses done in 2016 con­cern­ing “this blessed day”.

But 2016 fol­lows on 2015, and 2015 is the fruit and the result of a pol­i­cy root­ed for Erdoğan in the begin­ning of the XXIst cen­tu­ry, and, more than one hun­dred years ago, in the exclu­sive and war-like nation­al­ism known as Turci­ty in Turkey.

So that this July 15 2016 does not mark a rever­sal, but noth­ing oth­er than tra­di­tion­al Turk­ish pol­i­cy and, at a giv­en moment, a mas­sive accel­er­a­tion for the regime with the con­sol­i­da­tion of its full pow­ers. This will also facil­i­tate insti­tu­tion­al reforms.

So that July 15 2016 is not the start of the repres­sion of social and polit­i­cal oppo­si­tions, but a cross­ing-point only.

In Turkey itself, the year 2015 saw the polit­i­cal break­ing off of a nego­ti­at­ed peace process with the Kurds and one pre­cise­ly sug­gest­ed to Erdoğan in the first decade of the years 2000 by…Fetullah Gülen, the orga­niz­er and pre­sumed spon­sor of the coup d’é­tat. He had advised Erdovan, when they were allies in seiz­ing pow­er, to sep­a­rate the Kurds from the PKK by offer­ing a peace of the braves, award­ing the recog­ni­tion of a few cul­tur­al and social facts and hav­ing the process approved by PKK leader Öcalan. This was accom­pa­nied by “cor­dial” rela­tion­ships with the Barzanist regime in the Ira­ki Kur­dish enti­ty. These “process­es” had the fur­ther advan­tage of being favored by the Euro­pean Union.

In 2015, the AKP regime uni­lat­er­al­ly denounced the “process” fol­low­ing waves of attacks against the Kur­dish move­ment and mobi­liza­tions favor­ing peace. And, main­ly, after spec­tac­u­lar elec­toral break­throughs of the HDP, in the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion as well as at the local and leg­isla­tive lev­el, which were seen as a threat to the estab­lished rulers, despite all the ten­sions. On paper, an alliance between the HDP and the Kemal­ist oppo­si­tion rep­re­sent­ed by CHP’s elec­torate, could bring down the regime. We have seen what such a “tac­it” alliance pro­duced recent­ly in Istan­bul, even if this amounts to a false munic­i­pal alter­na­tive.

At the end of 2015, faced with the regime’s hos­til­i­ty toward Kur­dish munic­i­pal­i­ties, their demands for demo­c­ra­t­ic auton­o­my in line with the aban­doned “process”, a strong major­i­ty of Kur­dish youth react­ed to threats of mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion and took up arms as they could in order to defend this demo­c­ra­t­ic Kur­dis­tan of their dreams. The episode was known as the “trench war”. There again, if one looks close­ly at the list of mil­i­tary com­man­ders lead­ing the sav­age repres­sion, the exac­tions, the mur­ders under siege, one finds the names of “Gülenists”, who were omnipresent then in the State appa­ra­tus.

The mask of Gülen the friend of Kurds fell in 2015 and those Erdoğan sent to car­ry out the “eth­nic cleans­ing” turn out to be those he will assail on this 15th of July 2016. Here again, look up the year 2015 and the first months of 2016 on Kedis­tan. We fol­lowed the hor­ror step by step. These are the same hor­rors Zehra Doğan lived through and which led to her impris­on­ment. She revis­its this peri­od at length in the car­toon strips she drew in prison, the French trans­la­tion of which we are cur­rent­ly final­iz­ing and which will appear at Edi­tions Del­court in ear­ly 2021.

What fol­lows after 2016 should not be seen as a kind of com­pe­ti­tion in the infamy of fig­ures. The regime need­ed to purge the State appa­ra­tus of eco­nom­ic cor­rup­tion, the army, jus­tice, the police as well as var­i­ous nooks and cran­nies. Up until that point, the words “belong­ing” and “ter­ror­ism” on an accu­sa­tion meant “linked to the PKK”. Turk­ish injus­tice has cre­at­ed a sub-divi­sion in its attempt not to con­fuse the “affairs” of oppo­nents. Between the accu­sa­tions against nov­el­ist Aslı Erdoğan and writer Ahmet Altan, there is a range of con­fla­tions and nuances in need of deci­pher­ing. This is why, once again, one must stop with this “fol­low­ing the 2016 coup d’e­tat”…

An enor­mous num­ber of tri­als, often still under­way, were instruct­ed by Gülenist judges or pros­e­cu­tors who were then arrest­ed. Their tri­als are not instruct­ed inverse­ly by Kurds, but some­times by recon­vert­ed ones, or, of course, by the new pro­mo­tion of cor­rupt ultra-nation­al­ists.

All accu­sa­tions are use­ful, as long as one elim­i­nates an oppo­nent.

A reminder of the coup d’é­tat is thus only inter­est­ing as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to the con­stant and con­tin­u­ous repres­sion, arrests and des­ti­tu­tions of elect­ed mem­bers, poten­tial pro­hi­bi­tion of the HDP, the per­se­cu­tions of intel­lec­tu­als, the reten­tion in prison of phil­an­thropist Osman Kavala and of Sela­hat­tin Demir­taş among oth­ers… It all becomes a kind of “judi­cial” back-drop, acknowl­edged by some Euro­pean States in fact when speak­ing of “sov­er­eign­ty in the fight against ter­ror­ism”. This diplo­mat­ic way of not irri­tat­ing Turkey, seen as a dam against immi­gra­tion, has become grotesque. Will these same states be send­ing diplo­mat­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the com­mem­o­ra­tions?

Of course, no one can deny that since this “failed coup”, repres­sion and purges have fol­lowed one anoth­er in waves. But had that failed coup d’é­tat not exist­ed, there would have been need to invent it. The regime’s fascis­tic actions are not sim­ple con­se­quences of it.

In a way, Kedis­tan was born of the will to inform out­side Turkey, first of all on the “Turk­ish spring” rep­re­sent­ed by Gezi but most of all since then, in order to denounce these war crimes of 2015 and 2016, their exten­sion into the Syr­i­an war, and in order to sup­port as much as pos­si­ble those impli­cat­ed who were resist­ing or even, as in Roja­va, attempt­ing to build a demo­c­ra­t­ic auton­o­my in the midst of con­flicts.

Sum­ma­riz­ing these last years is impos­si­ble, espe­cial­ly by link­ing them to a sim­ple mag­i­cal date. The Mid­dle East, so pro­found­ly under­min­ing Europe through var­i­ous aspects, con­flicts and inter­ac­tions, deserves that we go beyond the shock of images or the bare dai­ly fac­tu­al descrip­tion of the crimes tak­ing place there, in an end­less litany. It also deserves bet­ter than the eter­nal car­toons around a cal­en­dar.

In wide strokes and sev­er­al dead ends, this is the extra step I have attempt­ed tak­ing on a July 15th.

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