”A society that ignores the murder of Garibe Gezer cannot solve any problems, including poverty. Trades unions that do not react strongly enough to the city council refusing a vehicle for transport of the body of a woman murdered in prison cannot solve any problems, including those of workers’ wages in this country,” writes Cafer Tar for Özgür Politika.
”… And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient,”
This is a verse from Surah al-Baqarah. This verse does not recall to society someone who lives very modestly with themselves and their family, suffering hunger, themselves or members of their family likely to die in a possible test from Allah.
On the contrary, it tells of a man who lives in one of the largest palaces in the world; with more than one official jet and countless luxury vehicles, who drinks dragon fruit smoothies in the palace he lives in, he and his family protected by hundreds of guards: the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
We used to find all these things inappropriate and denounced them as shameful. Now, however, now we just abhor it..
It is one of the greatest tragedies of the recent period that one who said, ”we do not economise on reputation!” to Turkish society, as it was drowning in a deep sense of despair with the fall of the Turkish lira, high interest rates, and persistent inflation, should remind us of this verse.
[Erdoğan said ”we do not economise on reputation!” referring to the budget for events for Republic Day, October 29. He uses the word “reputation” for the “representation and promotional expenses” of the Presidential Palace.]
A president who has been in power for twenty years repeatedly recalls the Surat al-Baqara to the minds of people living below the poverty line in this country; It is both mocking the public and is at the same time a very clear admission of failure.
Since the early years of the Turkish Republic the main agenda has been the suppression of the fundamental rights of minority groups, especially the Kurds.
Ongoing problems such as poverty, injustice in income distribution, gender inequality and environmental problems stem from the state’s insistence on the policy of denial.
Some may find this claim too exaggerated; but I would disagree. We express our arguments in a modest way, but really we should be more forceful. Progress cannot be achieved without economic and democratic development in a country where a problem that applies to a significant part of the geography and almost half of the population in the country is ignored.
It is the basic approach of almost all important economists across the world: “an economy is not just an economy, the basic dynamics of economic performance are democracy and freedoms!”
The minimum wage, which concerns almost half of the population of Turkey are once again under discussion. Shocked by the sharp fluctuations in foreign exchange and subsequent price increases, people hope that their losses will be compensated for by a strong increase in the minimum wage.
However, we have experienced time after time that this approach cannot solve any permanent problem. Trade union activity which directs its activities only to the discussion of wages, does not benefit anyone, including workers, in the long term.
If social solidarity is weak in a country, if the demand for higher wages is not combined with the demand for the development of democracy and freedoms, we need to remember: what is given in dribs and drabs today may be taken away in spades tomorrow.
Solidarity is essential for individuals in society, particularly during periods of rampant inflation. No problem, especially poverty, can be solved by a particular segment of society focussing only on their own daily interests.
A society that ignores the murder of Garibe Gezer cannot solve any problems, including poverty. Trades unions that do not react strongly enough to the city council refusing a vehicle for transport of the body of a woman murdered in prison cannot solve any problems, including those of workers’ wages in this country.
Certain parties, who consider so-called ‘yellow unionism’ a basis for class struggle, have been guessing at the minimum wage for some time, as if reading fortunes from daisy petals. However, an approach that does not combine the struggle for wages with the struggle for democracy cannot solve any problem, including workers’ problems of poverty.
If we do not protect democracy and freedoms, we will be unable to protect our own well-being. The tyranny of poverty can only be broken if it can be driven out into the open in an environment in which the productive activity of the individual is free. A society that refuses to allow the Garibe Gezers of this world to be killed in prison will thereby achieve both its freedom and its welfare.