Turkish President Erdogan on April 2
Turkish President Erdogan on April 2
Özgür Mumcu

-OpEd-

Turkey has never been a stranger to terror attacks. But it seems that the spiral of violence we have entered since the June 7, 2015, general election is so severe that it cannot be compared to anything that came before. Worse: There's no resolution in sight, no sign of an end to this violent atmosphere. We are expected to accept what is happening simply as an act of nature.

If not, why would President Recep Tayyip Erdogan say: "This struggle that started with the first man on Earth will last until the end of days," as he condemned Tuesday's car bomb assault in central Istanbul, assuring the public that the fight against terrorism will carry on? This is not a message of determination. This is an admission that the issue will never be settled, that it will go on forever.

We have seen how recklessly the Kurdish issue, one of the most important issues in this country, was handled. How impossible it was for the peace process, with the legal structure that it requires, to be put in place.

This is what happens when everything is about one man. One day he says, "Don't let the mothers cry anymore." And the next day he'll give you statements of hopelessness about struggles dating back to the first man. Peace talks initially spark tears of joys among government officials and journalists but their stance grows hawkish with time. This is one man toying with everyone else.

At the time the peace process was most popular, a group of people came together to sign a declaration titled "Democracy for Peace." Its main point was that to achieve peace, democratization is a priority. But a signed declaration objected to the peace process being a factor in the discussion of changes to the presidential system wanted by Erdogan: "Combining unrelated issues, such as the constitutional steps to be taken to resolve the Kurdish problem and the presidential system into one constitutional reform package for referendum, will neither fit democratic ethics nor serve peace in society. Pitting peace against democracy in Turkey will benefit no one."

Government officials criticized those who signed the statement for not wanting peace but the signatories were afraid that circumstances would deteriorate to the current situation.

Unfortunately, they were right.

A self-respecting state cannot accept one man ripping the agreement apart when he could not get his executive presidential system. A good opportunity for reconciliation in society was wasted by one man's career plans. Seriousness is not about making strong statements with a frowning face: Seriousness means taking responsibility and being accountable.

This country has been on fire the past year. Of course, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is also guilty in igniting the fire. If there's peace one day, there will be justice and the PKK will be held legally accountable. But we are citizens of the Republic of Turkey, not the PKK. Therefore, when a president says this struggle "will last until the end of days," we have the right to ask: "Why?"

Why will it last?

Why did you overturn the negotiation table?

Why did you tear the agreement apart?

What has changed?

How can a government think itself successful when bombs routinely go off in its cities? The truth is obvious: There cannot be peace without a real democracy. A school of thought feeding on polarization, and not reconciliation, only brings about suffering.

Us first and him last. The previously mentioned peace declaration also notes this: "It will not be possible to establish a lasting peace in Turkey unless steps are taken to actualize all human rights for every citizen of Turkey."

We cannot go on with this underdeveloped democracy until the end of days.

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Society

How The Top Collector Of Chinese Art Evades Censors In New Hong Kong Museum

Swiss businessman Uli Sigg is the most important collector of Chinese contemporary art. In 2012, he gave away most of his collection to the M+ in Hong Kong. Now the museum has opened as the Communist Party is cracking down hard on freedom of expression. So how do you run a museum in the face of widespread censorship from Beijing?

''Rouge 1992'' by Li Shan at the M+ museum

Maximilian Kalkhof

The first test has been passed, Uli Sigg thinks. So far, everything has gone well. His new exhibition has opened, visitors like to come, and — this is the most important thing for the Swiss businessman — everything is on display. He has not had to take an exhibit off the list of works.

The M+ in Hong Kong is a new museum that wants to compete with the established ones. It wants to surpass the MoMa in New York and Centre Pompidou in Paris. Sigg, a rather down-to-earth man, says: “There is no better museum in the whole world.” That is very much self-praise, since Sigg’s own collection is central to the museum.

The only problem is: great art is often political; it questions the rulers. Since the Chinese Communist Party has been cracking down on critics and freedom in Hong Kong, the metropolis is a bad place for politics and art. So how did the collection get there?

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