The repeated heavy-handedness, the overreach, the tear gas, the brutality, the injuries and the arrests by the Turkish police, with the blessings of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, against the youth of Turkey signifies that authoritarian rule is supplanting republican rule in Turkey.
Proof as to Turkey's sad transformation was witnessed yesterday as police in Istanbul and Ankara used tear gas, water cannons and brute force to dislodge protesters on the first anniversary of the Gezi Park uprising. A CNN reporter, Ivan Watson, also fell victim to the stark brutality of the Turkish police. Police brutalized demonstrating Turks seeking to assemble at both Gezi and Taksim Parks. Prime Minister Erdogan gave the police "absolute orders" not to permit demonstrations to honor the anniversary of the event that witnessed Turkish youth rising in large numbers to protest development of Gezi Park. Some died, many were arrested and scores were injured in the event of a year ago.
Moreover, Prime Minister Erdogan, in attempts to cement his authoritarian rule over Turkey, has in the past year sought to limit civil freedoms of access to social media, especially sites like Twitter and You-Tube. Only last week, the High Court of Turkey, in a rebuke to Erdogan's desires, ruled that restrictions on You-Tube amounted to suppression of speech and the Court called for an immediate lifting of the ban on the social media site.
That Erdogan will seek the Presidency of Turkey again this August, and that he expects to rule until 2023, should be troubling to Turkey, and especially, to the young people of Turkey. At some point before the August elections, Turks will have to answer whether or not economic gains and accomplishments should trump social freedoms. A good case study of economic dominance over social freedoms exists in the People's Republic of China(PRC). Do average Turks want to live like average Chinese? Turkey has made significant economic strides in the last decade. Erdogan will seek credit for this from Turks. And at the polls in August, the Turkish youth will have to decide whether or not to endorse authoritarianism or to reinforce social freedoms and rights. These are the choices of Turkey. Only Turkey can decide. The youth will have a chance to take a stand.