Unusual Ways Of Dissent
Although the country is passing through an economic hardship and nearly 50% devaluation from the beginning of the year eroded the real wages seriously, trade unions are quite docile under serious pressure. Although the State of Emergency is said to be abolished, conditions for the popular movements are not any better. Most of the civil society organizations are afraid to use their basic rights of protesting and delivering their demands. Trade Union Confederations which have the most number of members, such as Türk-İş and Hak-İş, act as if they are unaware of the repression on the labor movement.
As a result social movements and civil society organizations lose their efficiency in solving problems. This causes a strange phenomenon of demonstrating individually in order get what is deserved. For example in Bartın Amasra, two workers climbed a 80-metre crane complaining about not being paid for the last 105 days. One of the workers, Hüseyin Caner, commented: “We have not climbed here for show business. We work for a subcontractor. They have not paid us for 105 days. We are at the end of our tether. All we want is to take the money we have already deserved”. You can read a lot of news like that. Workers especially who work for subcontractors and small businesses lose their faith in organizing to get their rights. They prefer an individual struggle which is riskier physically but in fact less dangerous in a political aspect.
The more dramatic social phenomenon is the increasing number of suicides because of poverty. In September 2018, in İzmit, the most important industrial city of the country, İsmail Devrim, an unemployed worker then, committed suicide because of not being able to buy a pair of trousers for his high school student son. His school administration did not let him in because of his inappropriate school uniform. The news became viral and attracted a serious national attention. The journalist who first informed the public via an interview with Mr. Demir’s wife was taken under custody for a few hours. The governor’s strange comment on the matter caused serious confusion: “He committed a suicide because of psychological reasons not for economical ones”. Unfortunately suicides are also common among teachers who are not employed by the state and ex-civil servants who lost their jobs by State of Emergency decrees.
The political regime in Turkey has become much more authoritarian after 2013 and we cannot explain this procedure only with a failed coup attempt or the ambitions of a political figure. This is a reactionary movement supported by nearly all the sects of the power bloc no matter they are Islamist or nationalist. This reaction aims to close the opportunity window created by the democratic forces of the country. Since they had gained a significant momentum, the assault of the State has also been quite savage. But the “alarmed all the time” mood of the government signifies that they really do not feel safe enough anyway in spite of all their political victories. We do not need to wait for so long to see whether they are Pirus victories or not.