A return to 1994 - İSMAIL KILIÇARSLAN

A return to 1994

I was 18 years old in 1994. As is the norm for that age, I spent my time vagabonding along the Bosporus. I was a student then, as you must have surmised. I was just beginning to experience the sensations of what life is. I spent many a morning walking back and forth along the Maiden’s Tower- Üsküdar route. There were a load of poems I was meant to write, and a whole lot of battles I had to engage in. I also needed to fall in love. It was a never-ending spring season.
A return to 1994 for me would mean a return to that perfect time of my early youth. It would be the rehashing of those old times and experiences that now seem to have lasted for longer than they actually did. While writing this, I have realized that to me, even the thought of stepping back 20 years into the past is beautiful. Because for me 1994 was a year with many beautiful and melancholic moments.
If only 1994, which some people are trying to take us back to, were also a year that the country would long for. However, that is not the case.
Turkey would rather forget the year 1994, because it was then that four concepts were reaching their peak. Perhaps 1994 was the year when these concepts reached their peak. What were these four concepts?
The first was economic crisis… everything ground to a halt following the crisis that erupted as a result of the economic decisions announced on April 5, 1994 by Tansu Çiller.  People went bankrupt; some even committed suicide. The crisis was of such proportions that the country was almost ready to celebrate as if it were a national holiday, when the IMF agreed to provide $713,000,000 in credit to Turkey as part of its standby agreement. There is no mistake: 713 million dollars.   
The second was political crisis… The hardboiled Süleyman Demirel, who could write a book on “old school” politics, was in the Çankaya presidential palace.  In Parliament, we had Tansu Çiller, out first female prime minister who kept signing off on decisions that would hurt Turkey for the next 7-8 years. The bottomless pit that was the Deep State used the slogan “we will die and kill for our country as well” and had infiltrated every single institution with all its power. It never hesitated from conspiring with elements of the mafia with who it was hand in glove. The İzmit-Adapazarı-Bolu triangle had become the center of unsolved murders. Parliament in one fell swoop stripped away the immunity from prosecution of the parliamentarians of the DEP party.     
The third was terrorism… And the terrorism was serious. From the Tuzla train station to the governor’s office in Diyarbakır, and from Mardin to Ankara, acts of terrorism were witnessed everywhere and had become a daily part of our lives. Every day, on average, we received the news of two people martyred.
The fourth was military tutelage… The office of the General Staff turned out to be behind all incidents, from the stripping away of the immunity from prosecution of parliamentarians from the DEP party, to the Hasan Mezarcı incident. From the scorched-earth policy for 600 villages in the Southeast to the agreement signed with Israel pertaining to the fight against terror.
Perhaps you are saying, “Fine man, but why are you explaining all this.” It is because we are forgetful. We forget quickly. We are buttering the bread of those who would be “wonderfully pleased” for our country to be back in 1994 rather than here in 2014. We are striving to lose all the rights, all the prosperity and all the freedoms that we as the populace of Turkey fought tooth and nail to attain over the last 20 years.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to say something resembling “the point we have reached is wonderful. Everything is great… it is a bed of roses.” We have a lot more demands that need to be met. So many more demands…  All I am trying to say is that “the price for quickly forgetting what we have put behind us is that we will be confronted with those same things again.” Wouldn’t it be better to attempt taking a few steps forward rather than looking behind?
I ask myself “what benefit is it to anybody to return to those stupidity-filled days when Turks and Kurds killed one another?” My response is: “It only benefits those that say ‘how great that the reconciliation process is coming to an end’ and rub their hands in glee. It will benefit those that stand to gain from chaos, terror, the climate generated by an economic crisis and from military or judicial tutelage. 
Don’t do this. Let us not do this. Let us all realize the vital impact, a stand of “the will to live in togetherness” taken by us right now and right here, will have on the future of our country. And when I say “living in togetherness” it does not include stupid statements like “we have Kurdish neighbors too,” “my grandmother also wore the headscarf,” and “I have Armenian friends too.” I mean nurturing a capability that at the very minimum allows us to coexist and endure each other.
Otherwise the country will return to 1994 for all of us. Almost like a living hell…
What was it that Diogenes used to say? “Fear the man who thinks of his own small oxygen tank as the sky, when one can breathe together under the same immense sky. Fear him a lot.” 

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