‘Grey-haired elders’ of Turkey call for unity for rights

Photo: Turkish Parliament

A total of 101 Turkish intellectuals, politicians, journalists and writers, “the grey-haired elders” as they name themselves, have made a call to the youth of the country and the opposition to unite for rights and freedoms “by joining around fundamental democratic principles.”

The “the grey-haired elders” criticized the government in a statement on July 21 for “trying to rule through coercion, not consent.”

Below is the full text of their statement.

A call from the grey-haired elders

We, the grey-haired elders, who come from different segments of society, backgrounds and politics; and who have weathered many decades, are calling on everyone in our country who deserves to live in peace and tranquility in a just and peaceful society, especially to the young people who are our hope.

In light of our experience, we say:

  • Our country has never experienced darkness, inequity, lawlessness, injustice, disintegration of the social fabric, global isolation and disgrace such as the state we are in.
  • The constitution is effectively suspended; the judiciary, which is supposed to be independent and impartial, is under the command of the Palace; to the institutions of law enforcement. All institutions that guarantee the democratic underpinnings of the Republic have been rendered dysfunctional one by one.
  • In the current state of unmitigated arbitrariness and oppression, even the residual scraps of democracy and the rule of law are also being swept away.
  • The laws and practices – which threaten the security of citizens’ life and property, completely disregard human rights and freedoms, annihilate our citizenship rights, make our professional organizations subservient to government, restrict our right to be informed, and truncate our freedom of expression – are hitting us on the head one after another, like a sledgehammer.
  • Following some dreams of expansionism and conquest, the principle of “peace at home, peace in the world” has been replaced by war, conflict and enmity with the whole world.
  • Even more seriously, we are being divided into camps. Conflicts are sewn, so that the religious and secular, Sunni and Alevi, right-wing and left-wing, Turk and Kurd, young and old cannot come together to collectively call for an “end” to this ongoing trend.

We are all threatened

No one should fall into complacency – “what does not touch me does not concern me”; we are all threatened. While we struggle against economic hardship, try to make a living and hold on to our jobs, each step taken by the rulers poison our air a little more, suffocating the entire society. The legal restrictions and policies that we may assume to have no effect on us do threaten not only our freedoms but also our work and livelihood.

We warn those in power: The power of government is in your hands. Relying on that power, you try to rule through coercion, not consent. Masses of people are disgruntled, anxious, and restless. Their silence does not stem from what you believe to be their acquiescence but their fear and desperation. However, there comes a day when silent objections grow and reach the ballot box, where the electorate says no to this trend. Even if you do not see those days approaching, we do.

We call out to the opposition: The AKP-MHP coalition gains strength from an opposition in disarray. Our desperate and hesitant people are looking for a solid alternative whom they can trust and count on.  A wholesale threat can only be extinguished by a wholesale resistance. The solution lies in the establishment of democracy alliance of all opposition forces without delay, while maintaining their own entity and identity, but by joining around fundamental democratic principles. 

Young People! Hear our voice

Accept our call, not as a patronizing advice or telling you what to do but as a synthesis of our years of experience in humbling regret for not being able to leave you the bright country that you deserve.

We have never lost our hope. We still resist today our country’s drift into the abyss, the confiscation of the future of our youth, the confinement of our people into poverty, the plunder of our resources, the destruction of the  nature, and the imposition of a particular life-style on women, communities, and youth – as we have resisted in the past. You are our hope.

Overcome the divisions, hostilities, and fake camps imposed upon you; unite and raise your voice. It is time to reclaim our freedoms, livelihood, and lifestyles, and demand our rights.

The promise of a bright future is in your hands. And, we, the grey-haired elders, would like to see its light in our life-time.

July 21, 2020.

101 Signatures:

Abdullah Nefes, Abdülbaki Erdoğmuş, Ahmet Aykaç, Ahmet İnsel, Ahmet Telli, Ahmet Türk, Ali Bayramoğlu, Ali Sirmen, Altan Öymen, Arif Keskiner, Atilla Dorsay, Aydın Cıngı, Aydın Engin, Ayşe Erzan, Ayşenur Arslan, Baskın Oran, Binnaz Toprak, Bülent Ortaçgil, Canan Arın, Celal Doğan, Cem Toker, Cengiz Aktar, Cengiz Çandar, Cihangir İslam, Coşkun Özdemir, Doğan Bermek, Ercan Karakaş, Erdoğan Aydın, Ersin Kalaycıoğlu, Ersin Salman, Ertuğrul Günay, Ertuğrul Yalçınbayır, Eşber Yağmurdereli, Fatma Gök, Fatmagül Berktay, Fehmi Koru, Fikri Sağlar, Filiz Ali, Genco Erkal, Gençay Gürsoy, Gökhan Akçura, Gürel Tüzün, Hacer Ansal, Halil Ergün, Hasan Cemal, Hayri İnönü, Herkül Milas, İbrahim Betil, İbrahim Sinemillioğlu, İlhan Tekeli, Kazım Güleçyüz, Korkut Boratav, Marta Kalyoncu, Mehmet Hayri Kırbaşoğlu, Melek Ulagay, Meral Tamer, Meryem Koray, Moris Gabbay, Murat Belge, Murat Karayalçın, Müjde Ar, Nadire Mater, Nazar Büyüm, Necmiye Alpay, Nesrin Nas, Nesteren Davutoğlu, Nurettin Sözen, Orhan Pamuk, Orhan Silier, Osman Ulagay, Oya Baydar, Öget Öktem Tanör, Ömer Madra, Peral Bayaz, Rakel Dink, Reşit Canbeyli, Rıza Türmen, Selçuk Erez, Serra Yılmaz, Süleyman Coşkun, Süleyman Çelebi, Şahin Tekgündüz, Şanar Yurdatapan, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Şevket Pamuk, Şükran Soner, Şükrü Aslan, Tarhan Erdem, Tarık Ziya Ekinci, Tuğrul Eryılmaz, Turhan Günay, Tülin Dursun, Ümit Aktaş, Üstün Ergüder, Vecdi Sayar, Veysi Dündar, Yaşar Okuyan, Yücel Erten, Zeynep Oral, Ziya Halis, Zülfü Livaneli.


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