— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for February, 2016

The Prez and the Constitution

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On 28 February 2016, the Prez made a public declaration, indicating that he does not respect the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey.

The Prez said: “I will remain silent on the decision the court has given. But I don’t need to accept it, I want to make that clear. I don’t obey or respect the decision. This has nothing to do with press freedom. This is a case of spying”.[1] Additionally, as reported by RT, “Ankara pulled an independent Turkish TV channel off the air during a live interview with Dundar and Gul on Friday [, 27 February 2916]. The channel officials claim it was ‘clearly a political decision’. Public Prosecutor Ramazan Dinç demanded Turkey’s satellite provider Turksat to stop the broadcasts of IMC TV, a Turkish nationwide channel, local media reported. The official reason for pulling the plug was channel’s ‘terrorist propaganda’ in favor of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK). ‘In Turkey, everything contrary to the official view is tossed into the terrorism bag…This was clearly a political decision. The prosecutor has no legal right to seek our closure based on an allegation’, the channel’s general coordinator Eyup Burc said, as cited by Reuters. He denied any links between the channel and terrorists. IMC TV wrote on Facebook that now it is only available via satellite channels. ‘The situation of freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Turkey is miserable’, IMC News Coordinator Faruk Eren said, as cited by Today’s Zaman.[2]

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[1] “Erdogan: ‘I don’t respect court ruling to free Cumhuriyet journalists'” RT News (29 Feb 2015). https://www.rt.com/news/333881-turkey-channel-terrorist-charges/?utm_source=browser&utm_medium=aplication_chrome&utm_campaign=chrome.

[2] “Erdogan: ‘I don’t respect court ruling to free Cumhuriyet journalists'”.

Bangladesh: Nationalism, Democracy and Socialism and Almighty Allah

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Last year, the writer and historian Ryan Shaffer put forward that “Bangladeshi atheists and secularists are under attack from their government and Muslim extremists. In the last year, several leading Bangladeshi secularists have been murdered. In late 2014 and early 2015, four vocal professors, authors, and bloggers were killed by extremists by being hacked to death in public. The first murder was of Shafiul Islam, who was killed by several machete-wielding men near his home following allegations that he banned women from wearing burkas in his university classes. Then Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi American writer who was critical of Islam, was attacked by three men with machetes and died at a nearby hospital from his injuries. Lastly, Oyasiqur Rahman and Ananta Bijoy Das, both atheist bloggers, were killed by assailants with machetes in separate but nearly identical attacks. These murders are just the latest in a campaign against atheists in Bangladesh. Since the 2013 murder of Ahmed Rajib Haider, another blogger who criticized Islam, the Bangladeshi government has walked a fine line between safeguarding its official religion of Islam and trying to protect nonbelievers from violent Islamic extremists”.[1]

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In early 2014, AFP reported that “Bangladesh police have charged seven students of an elite university and a cleric over the murder of an allegedly atheist blogger who was critical of Islam and Islamic groups. The students are accused of hacking to death Ahmed Rajib Haider, 35, near his home in Dhaka in February [2013], days after he helped launch a campaign against Islamist leaders accused of war crimes. Police also charged an imam from a Dhaka mosque with instigating the murder by allegedly preaching that it was legal to kill atheist bloggers who campaigned against Islam”.[2] The situation in East Bengal seems to be very dire indeed. The report goes on to say that the “body of Haider, better known by his Bengali online identity Thaba Baba, was found with hatchet wounds to the head in what police said was an apparent attempt to behead him. Six out of the seven men — all of whom are students of the prestigious and private North South University — and the imam have been arrested and are being held in jail, [Dhaka police deputy commissioner Masudur Rahman] said. Haider’s killing was the second attack in Dhaka against bloggers critical of Islam, after the stabbing of a self-styled ‘militant atheist’ by three unidentified men in January [2013]. After Haider’s death, Bangladesh’s Islamic parties started to protest against other campaigning bloggers, calling a series of nationwide strikes to demand their execution, accusing them of blasphemy”.[3]

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Giving a little potted history, Shaffer explains that “Bangladesh has its origins in religious strife and sectarianism. It gained its independence in 1947 when British India was divided to create a separate Muslim land. Originally founded as a Muslim-nation called East Pakistan, the country underwent a devastating ‘war of liberation’ against West Pakistan in 1971 and became Bangladesh, a nation of Bengalis. Though the country has a secular democracy, Islam is the official state religion and Muslim political parties play significant roles in crafting laws and influencing prosecutions. However, the current ruling party is the Awami League, a left-leaning secular socialist party [in power since 2009], and the prime minister is Sheikh Hasina, a woman who also governed the country from 1996 to 2001. Bangladesh’s recent history has been marked by corruption, assassinations, and arrests of political rivals, including Hasina’s 2008 indictment for extortion. At the same time, Muslim extremism has cast a large shadow with terrorist attacks killing and injuring large numbers of people, most notably two dozen deaths and hundreds of injuries following Hasina’s public anti-terror speech in 2004. Indeed, the country has weak governance and vocal religious extremists, which is further complicated by poverty and terrorism. Politicians have used Islam as a wedge for broadening its appeal and tapping into populist support for the nation’s official religion. Specifically, the government has been pursuing atheists and humanists for “hate speech” over their online posts critical of Islam”.[4]

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The Bangladeshi Constitution proclaims that the country “is a unitary, independent, sovereign Republic to be known as the People’s Republic of Bangladesh” (Article 1).[5] The document then goes on to state that “[t]he state religion of the Republic is Islam, but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in the Republic” (Article 2.A).[6] And driving home the point, the document also points out that “[t]he principles of absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah, nationalism, democracy and socialism meaning economic and social justice, together with the principles derived from them as set out in this Part [of the Constitution], shall constitute the fundamental principles of state policy” (Article 8.1) and that “[a]bsolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah shall be the basis of all actions” (Article 8.1A).[7] As a result, it seems that the Bangladeshi mind is bound to be somewhat confused and muddled, as the Almighty Allah is the driving force behind “nationalism, democracy and socialism” in East Bengal . . .

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[1] Ryan Shaffer, “Crisis in Bangladesh: Secularists Killed by Extremists and Under Legal Threat from Government” Council for Secular Humanism (02 June 2015). https://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/articles/7551.

[2] “Cleric, students charged with ‘athesist’ blogger’s murder” AFP (29 January 2014). http://www.9news.com.au/world/2014/01/29/07/48/cleric-students-charged-with-atheist-blogger-s-murder#eDrLKJjuBtEuGOqO.99.

[3] “Cleric, students charged with ‘athesist’ blogger’s murder”.

[4] Ryan Shaffer, “Crisis in Bangladesh: Secularists Killed by Extremists and Under Legal Threat from Government”.

[5] “CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH” International Relations and Security Network. http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/research/bangladesh-constitution.pdf.

[6] “CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH”.

[7] “CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH”.

Molly Crabapple: Drawing Blood

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‘From sex workers in the US to prisoners in Guantanamo, artist and journalist Molly Crabapple has been there. Her bold and powerful work has also taken her to Abu Dhabi’s migrant labor camps, and with rebels in Syria. Her new memoir, Drawing Blood, was just released in December [2015]. She is a contributing editor for VICE and has written for publications including The New York Times, Paris Review, and Vanity Fair. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. This episode also features a commentary from Laura on the dark magic of the art market. Published on Jan 12, 2016′.

About three years ago, Molly Crabapple wrote that “Camp X-Ray is the first place that the US held detainees in Guantanamo. Captives lived there for four months in 2002 while the military built permanent prison camps. Prisoners lived in open mesh cages under the brutal Cuban sun. Their cells had no running water. Guards gave them two buckets: one for water and one for shit. The classic photos of GTMO, (dogs, marines, hooded captives in orange jumpsuits) were taken here. With its watchtowers, clapboard interrogation huts, and rings of barbed wire, X-Ray looks like nothing so much as a concentration camp in the Caribbean”.[1]

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[1] Molly Crabapple, “Molly Crabapple Draws Guantanamo’s Camp X-Ray” VICE (20 June 2013). http://www.vice.com/read/molly-crabapple-draws-gtmos-camp-x-ray.

Making Sense of the Syria “Ceasefire” with Pepe Escobar

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‘Stop the presses, everyone! The US and Russia have announced a ceasefire in Syria!…Again. But this time it’s going to work. Except for that whole sticky question about whom the ceasefire applies to and under what conditions. Confused? Today Pepe Escobar of Newsbud.com joins us to untangle the confusing mess of the Syria ceasefire and tell us what it really means. Published on Feb 24, 2016′.

 

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Lindsey Graham: ‘My Party has Gone Batshit Crazy’

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‘Danielle Guilday and Shane Farnan comment on a riff made by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) at the National Press Club in which he said the Republican Party has gone “batshit crazy”. Published on Feb 26, 2016’.

In addition, it is worth noting that Graham is probably the only member of the Republican Party today to have gone on the record saying “We need to raise taxes to get our nation out of debt”.[1] Furthermore, he is definitely the only Republican to state publicly that “climate change is real and threatens our economy and national security. That is why we are advocating aggressive reductions in our emissions of the carbon gases that cause climate change”.[2]

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[1] Julie Borowski, “Top 10 Absurd Quotes by Lindsey Graham” Freedom Works. http://www.freedomworks.org/content/top-10-absurd-quotes-lindsey-graham.

[2] Julie Borowskia, “Top 10 Absurd Quotes by Lindsey Graham”.

For Now Free at Last: Can Dündar and Erdem Gül

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The pro-government Daily Sabah announces that “Cumhuriyet daily’s two high-level employees Can Dündar and Erdem Gül have been freed in the early hours of Friday [, 26 February 2016] after Turkey’s top court ruled that their detentions had violated their rights. Turkey’s Constitutional Court gathered on Thursday [, 25 February] and decided by a majority of votes (12 against three) that there has been an infringement of rights regarding the arrests of Cumhuriyet daily’s two high-level employees Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. The top court said in its decision, ‘Individual rights as well the freedom of the press and expression have been violated’. Dündar, who serves as editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, and Gül, who serves as Cumhuriyet’s Ankara representative, were arrested last year after publishing a controversial report regarding the National Intelligence Organization (MİT)”.[1] And in the next instance, the report explains that “Dündar and Gül were responsible for publishing footage regarding an unlawful raid that targeted trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) in early January 2014. Dündar and Gül then petitioned to the Constitutional Court for their release, indicating that they were subjected to a violation of their rights. Despite their release on Friday, the two journalists are still facing possible life sentences at a trial which is due to start on March 25. They are also banned from leaving the country”.[2]

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From Austria’s capital, Vienna the “International Press Institute (IPI) [on Thursday, 25 February 2016] welcomed a ruling by Turkey’s Constitutional Court that the arrest and ongoing pre-trial detention of Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül violated their ‘freedom of expression, freedom of the press and right to personal security and freedom’. Local reports indicated that the decision would now be forwarded to the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penalty Court, where the pair face trial over reports claiming that Turkey’s intelligence agency secretly armed Islamist rebel groups in Syria, and that they were expected to be released tonight or tomorrow. ‘We are extremely pleased that the justices of the Constitutional Court stood up today and demonstrated that democracy and respect for human rights are still fundamental values in Turkey’, IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis said. ‘IPI and its members across the globe look forward to Mr. Dündar and Mr. Gül’s swift release, and we will continue to advocate on their behalf until this baseless case against them has been dismissed’. Dündar, Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief, and Gül, its Ankara bureau chief, are accused of ‘gathering secret state documents for the purposes of political and military espionage’, ‘attempting to topple the government of the Republic of Turkey or attempting to stop either partially or totally the government from fulfilling its duties’ and ‘deliberate support for a terrorist organization without being a member’. Dündar and Gül were taken into custody in November 2015 and have spent 92 days in pre-trial detention at Turkey’s Silivri Prison. The trial against them is currently scheduled to begin on March 25 [, 2016]. If convicted, they each face an aggravated life term in prison, a second life term and an additional 30 years behind bars. The charges against them stem from a May 29, 2015 report published in Cumhuriyet that included a video purportedly showing Turkish security forces searching Turkish intelligence agency trucks en route to Syria containing crates of ammunition and weapons. That video appeared to confirm previous reports claiming Turkey’s intelligence agency, the MİT, arming Islamist rebels in Syria despite Turkish government denials”.[3]

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The daily Cumhuriyet is a staunchly Kemalist publication, with historical ties to the Republican People’s Party (or CHP), a paper which has been critical of Turkey’s AKP-led government from the very start. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his henchmen have been determined to bring an end to the lenient and permissive regime in place — a regime that used to be called Turkish Secularism. With the ascent of Ahmed Davutoğlu to the position of prime minister some would argue that the AKP has largely achieved most of its goals and Turkey today is a nation positioned on a staunchly post-Kemalist path, a path that leads towards a post-nationalist and mono-confessional future, to a Turkey with a citizenry composed of Sunni Muslims known colloquially as Turks.

“As I have written quite some time ago, ‘opponents of Erdogan and the AKP now fear that the government’s long-term goal (as arguably expressed in the AKP’s policy statement Hedef 2023) is to transform the nation state Turkey into an Anatolian federation of Muslim ethnicities, possibly linked to a revived caliphate. In this way, Turkey’s future (as a nation state) would arguably become subject to Anatolia’s past as a home to many different Muslims of divergent ethnic background. The fact that Erdogan’s oft-repeated reference point is the first assembly of what was to become Turkey’s parliament on 23 April, 1920, seems to render strength to such contentions. The first assembly consisted of representatives of Anatolia’s Muslim population, the then-Kemalist constituency, who had pledged allegiance to the Ottoman Sultan-Caliph, Mehmed VI – two years later, the transformation of Anatolia’s Muslims into Anatolian Turks begun in earnest’. And now in 2015, the de-construction of the Anatolian Turks into Anatolia’s Muslims of different ethnic strip united under a Muslim and/or possible Neo- or Pseudo-Ottoman banner seems to have been put into motion by the President and his AKP state apparatus, and particularly, the Ministry of Education. The New Turkey now being built is clearly no longer looking towards Europe and the West, as vividly illustrated in last year’s final [National Security Council] chaired by the ‘Prez’ Erdogan in his new White Palace, with the assembled military dignitaries sitting in a room where the traditional portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is only prominent by its absence”.[4]

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[1] “Cumhuriyet daily’s Can Dündar and Erdem Gül to stand trial without arrest for espionage” Daily Sabah (26 Feb 2016). http://www.dailysabah.com/investigations/2016/02/25/cumhuriyet-dailys-can-dundar-and-erdem-gul-to-stand-trial-without-arrest-for-espionage.

[2] Cumhuriyet daily’s Can Dündar and Erdem Gül to stand trial without arrest for espionage”.

[3] “Court: Turkey’s detention of Dündar, Gül violates rights” IPI (25 Feb 2016). http://www.freemedia.at/newssview/article/court-turkeys-detention-of-duendar-guel-violates-rights.html.

[4] C. Erimtan, “The end of ‘Secular Turkey’ or Ottomans re-emergent?” RT Op-Edge (13 Jan 2015). https://www.rt.com/op-edge/221835-turkey-religion-secular-state/.

CrossTalk: Truce in Syria?

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‘Is it for real this time? Moscow and Washington have announced a date for the cessation of hostilities of Syria’s 5-year civil war. This does not include the Syrian coalition’s campaign against terrorist groups operating in the country. Putin has delivered, can Obama? CrossTalking with Philip Giraldi, Gareth Porter, and Sami Nader. Published on Feb 24, 2016’.

 

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