The Emperor Erdogan’s New Clothes


“Sovereignty does not allow any leader or any regime to repress its own people or kill innocent civilians. A regime pointing guns to its own people can have no sovereignty or legitimacy.”

This is an example of a statement that should be a matter of fact but when it is proclaimed by Erdogan, the prime minister of a country infamous for its violation of human rights, it should be seen as an opportunity for world leaders to ask: “Then how can we consider Turkey a legitimate state?”

These Mandela-Gandhi-Aung San Suu Kyi-like statements are not free of consequences. Yes, every person who does not have an agenda to say otherwise will admit that words like these coming from Erdogan are as empty as pro-Kurdish newspaper offices.

But to people who have interests that go beyond human rights, proclamations like these combined with the occasional release of a Kurdish child from prison or the offer of taking elective language courses in Kurdish, make them hesitate on increasing the pressure on Turkey to implement real changes with regard to Kurdish rights.

When even Denmark, a self-proclaimed defender of freedom of speech (e.g. the Muhammed drawings in 2005 and the incident that same year when Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former PM of Denmark and now General Secretary of NATO, refused to exclude two ROJ TV journalists before a press conference with Erdogan) now compliments Turkey for having taken “brave steps” in regard to freedom of press, how will the other states not react to Turkey’s eagerness to seem changed and “willingness” to actually change?

Turkey will say “We have given Kurds their own channel.”
In reality this channel has a list of words it cannot say because they are regarded as provocative and encouraging to “violence”.

Turkey will say “We have given Kurds the right to speak Kurdish in court.”
Yet Turkey continues the arbitrary arrests of BDP politicians and Kurdish and Turkish journalists and activists, accusing them of belonging to an armed terrorist organisation.

Turkey will say “We allow Kurdish mothers to bury their PKK terrorist children.”
But still the Turkish police is present at most funerals, ready to use tear gas against the mourners.

Erdogan’s attempts at keeping up pretense is similar to the short story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen. It is about two rogues who claim they can weave clothes so light that it becomes invisible to stupid people unfit for their position, as for example with the emperor’s minister:

Both the swindlers begged him to be so kind as to come near to approve the excellent pattern, the beautiful colors. They pointed to the empty looms, and the poor old minister stared as hard as he dared. He couldn’t see anything, because there was nothing to see. “Heaven have mercy,” he thought. “Can it be that I’m a fool? I’d have never guessed it, and not a soul must know. Am I unfit to be the minister? It would never do to let on that I can’t see the cloth.”

Why should we accept it when Erdogan and his supporters are saying that he is wearing new clothes when in fact he is only in his underwear? Let us call Erdogan out on his bluff.

Someone said “Sight becomes insight which in turn prompts action”. It is therefore vital that world leaders see, recognise and raise their fingers, point them at Erdogan and say: “You are not wearing any clothes.”

If the world leaders let the hypocrisy of Erdogan go by without saying anything, without making him blush extensively for being naked in public, then others will accept it as being the norm and might go around naked too.

The words of Erdogan is the words of a hypocrite, and the hypocrisy is blatant whenever he speaks of the Palestinians.

“The recognition of a Palestinian state is an obligation, not an option.” But the recognition of a Kurdish state is not an obligation, Mr. Emperor?

 We must work hand in hand with our Palestinian brothers. The Palestinian cause is the cause of human dignity …It’s time to raise the Palestinian flag at the United Nations. Let’s raise the Palestinian flag and let that flag be the symbol of peace and justice in the Middle East. … Freedom and democracy and human rights must be a united slogan for the future of our people. …

The legitimate demands of the people cannot be repressed with force and in blood.

Yet while he is making the peace sign with one hand and repeating the last sentence over and over again, he is murdering and imprisoning innocent Kurds with the other hand.

No one should accept these remarks as signs of appeasement, Palestinians should not believe that Erdogan, an oppressor in his own country is a kind and peace-seeking man in other people’s countries.

It is a way for Erdogan to distract the world’s attention from the problems at home and give it the image that Turkey is a role model for the Middle East and can be the bridge between the Middle East and the West that is needed.

Instead of accepting Turkey’s “gestures” in regard to recognition of the Kurdish people, the world must take on the role of the little child in Hans Christian Andersen’s story who said about the emperor:

“But he isn’t wearing anything!”