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Are Turkey's Leaders "Settling Scores" With Secular Past?

Most protests in Ankara, like this one last year, have been peaceful
Most protests in Ankara, like this one last year, have been peaceful

ANKARA – Turkish opposition groups plan to defy a government ban of a rally outside parliament to mark Turkey’s Republic Day.

The Oct.29 rally has been banned by the Ankara Governor’s office, who claim to have received intelligence that warns of mass provocation at the rally.

If the banned protest takes place as planned, legal action will be taken against the participants, the Governor’s office said in statement. “In line with the intelligence that it has received, the Governor’s office did what it should have done,” said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a press conference last week.

Erdogan’s statement has aroused a heated debate among the opposition, who have said they continue to mark Republic day -- which marks Mustafa Kemel's 1923 establishment of the modern Turkish republic -- in front of the country's historic parliament building.

Main opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu says he will attend the rally at whatever cost. “What ministry or governor can say: “I’m going to ban this rally?” He asked in an address to his Republican People’s Party CHP. “Our party will celebrate the foundation of the Republic with people in a glorious way while being open to all other political parties that wish to participate.”

The rally has been organized by the Kemalist Thought Association (ADD), which invited people to gather in front of the old parliament building in Ankara’s Ulus neighborhood in celebration of the day. The government has said that the venue is not appropriate for this occasion.

CHP deputy chair Gokhan Gunaydin said the party is not asking for further permission from any authority for this celebration. “If there is a notice banning the celebration we will tear it down and throw it away,” he said at a Thursday press conference at CHP headquarters.

Citizens do not require permission from authorities to conduct a democratic march, according to Gunaydin who cited relevant clauses of the constitution.

“Turkey strongly maintains the will which established its Republic,” he said. “People will celebrate the Republic however and wherever they want. We will define all the excuses and pretexts aimed against this as “anti-Republican” and respond appropriately. We will once more show this to Turkey.”

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has also expressed its opposition to the banning of the rally. “The AKP has revealed that it has problems with Republican values,” said said MHP Secretary-General Ismet Buyukataman. “The AKP shows an inexplicable approach, as if they are settling scores with Republican values.

This is not the first time the AKP has canceled celebrations for secular republic holidays. In recent years the traditional Victory Day celebrations marked on Oct. 1 have been cancelled. This year, the April 23 National Sovereignty and Children’s Day and May 19 War of Liberation holiday celebrations were cut short, and ceremonies confined to indoors, noted Hurriyet columnist Yusuf Kanli.

“ Despite the ban, thousands will gather in front of the first Parliament building on Oct. 29,” Kanli predicted. “At least as a journalist, I will be there. Hopefully the government and local government of the Republic won’t order the police of the Republic to attack, beat up, gas, or soak people with water cannons.”

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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