Since April 24, we’ve had a lot of chatter about what’s next for us. But after last weekend’s momentous election in Turkey, that genocidal state confronts the same question, and with more complexity, to boot!
Where we simply have to clarify what aspects of our struggle to focus on, Turkey has multiple, complicating factors, internal and external, to consider as it now chooses its path.
Christian and non-Turkish minorities (Alevi, Armenian, Assyrian, Kurd, Roma [Gypsy], Yezidi) have been elected to parliament in unprecedented numbers, unseen, really, since Ottoman times, and they are associated with multiple political parties. For Armenians, it has been 54 years since we had a representative in the Buyuk Milli Meclis (Grand National Assembly as parliament is called in Turkey).
An authoritarian leader, President Erdoğan, still in office, has, for now, been reined in. His hope to rule with an iron fist after changing the constitution has been checked by the loss of the parliamentary majority of his AK party.
For the first time in 16 years, a coalition government will have to be formed. This used to be common in Turkey, except for when the generals (pashas) would foist a coup on the country (four times over the course of four decades). But now, there’s a very different crop of parliamentarians in office, how will they handle this?
There is the possibility of no coalition coalescing, leading to new elections. Or, some other parliamentary arrangement that leads to snap elections in the not-too-distant future.
The corruption in government has persisted through the rule of multiple parties.
Garo Paylan, one of the Armenians elected to parliament has already said he will fight Genocide denial in his new position. He has even stated Armenians should focus their efforts on Turkey, not other countries, specifically citing the ARF (Tashnagtzootiun).
Many politically progressive Turks have been extending hands of cooperation, arguing that a democratic Turkey would lead to all our problems’ resolution.
The “Kurdish problem” as they refer to it is still unresolved.
Three Kurds associated with the HD party, largely associated with Kurds and newly entering parliament, have already been murdered in Diyarbekir (Dikranagerd), and larger scale rampages (even massacres) are feared by some.
The Armenian question is unresolved.
Society in Turkey in its entirety is built upon lies and taboos.
Turkey borders two currently very unstable states, Iraq and Syria, with the Islamic State successfully operating in both.
Relations with the Republic of Armenia are essentially non-existent.
Relations with its others neighbors are cordial, at best, and more often tense.
All this invites comparisons with the last time a Sultan was toppled in 1908 – parallel, Erdoğan.
There was great joy in the country, and much hope – parallel, same thing now.
There was internal instability – parallel Kurdish issues, Genocide denial, societal lies and taboos, no parliamentary majority party.
A counter revolution and massacres ensued – parallel, possible new elections restoring Erdoğan to power and murders of Kurds.
External tensions and wars (Balkan and WWI) were rife– parallel, Islamic State and other examples above.
Armenian and Kurdish Questions along with other minority issues were unresolved – parallel, same situation.
Minorities in parliament addressing their issues – parallel, same now with the primarily Kurdiah HDP in the forefront, much as the ARF was starting in 1908 (Dikran Kaligian’s “Armenian Organization and Ideology under Ottoman Rule: 1908-1914” is a great source of information about this).
Of course this becomes OUR problem, too, since we must navigate the ever shifting maze that is Turkey’s current polity.
So it’s time to intimately re-familiarize ourselves with the enemy to whom we are joined at the hip. We must read about Turkey daily, interact with ideological peers there, and, as many of us have starting doing, engaging in what amounts to political tourism to hotbeds of activism in Turkey and our ancestral homes. Get busy, please. D.C. is no longer a sufficient target of our political energies.