8 thoughts on “British weapons for Turkish regime

  1. Tuesday 24th January 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Arts

    Broadcaster AYSEN GUVEN talks to Steve Sweeney about the assault on progressive culture in Turkey and why solidarity, at home and abroad, is so important in rolling back reaction

    FREE speech and democracy in Turkey are under serious threat. Hundreds of media outlets and newspapers have been closed and journalists jailed. According to unions there, 10,000 journalists — a third of the profession — are unemployed and blacklisted.

    The use of languages other than Turkish by state broadcasters, in politics and in education is extremely limited.

    The Erdogan regime has gone to extraordinary lengths to crush Kurdish culture and identity, a throwback to the the 1980s when people were jailed for “whistling in Kurdish.” Use of the Kurdish language was illegal, even in private, until 1991.

    That’s why the role of independent television stations in Turkey is important in giving a voice to the oppressed and allowing for art, culture and freedom of expression to be heard.

    One of those engaged in that struggle is Aysen Guven, who worked as the presenter and editor of the popular arts and culture programme Back Yard for the Hayatin Sesi TV station.

    It was founded 10 years ago as “the voice of working people, secular forces and all those exploited and oppressed.” And it was one of those shut by government decree in October last year.

    Guven is at pains to stress that the TV station is owned by the workers. “We always remind people of this, it’s very important.

    “There are no monopolies or rich backers. Every lira has been given by the workers to build Hayatin Sesi. It is their TV station.

    “Workers, women’s organisations and those defending peace in the country can find their voice. People on the street, students, it is a voice for them.”

    It was because of this that she and her colleagues were so angry at the closure.

    “Not only was it an attack on free speech and the freedom of the press, it was also an attack on the workers themselves.

    It was their money that paid for the equipment taken or destroyed. It was their voice that was silenced,” she tells me.

    The station had long been threatened by the state. During the Gezi protests of 2013, Hayatin Sesi was one of the few TV stations that broadcast live coverage of events while mainstream channels either ignored the demonstrations or covered them with a pro-government slant.

    Writers, artists and poets protested at the biased coverage. And, as journalists and media outlets reporting from Taksim Square were attacked by the authorities, Hayatin Sesi was threatened with closure.

    It was accused of not having the required broadcasting licence — a claim proved to be false.

    The subversive and revolutionary nature of art and culture in Turkey means that there’s a long history of leading figures being constantly targeted by the authorities.

    Turkey’s most famous poet, the late “romantic communist” Nazim Hikmet, was sentenced to 28 years in prison as he was deemed to be “a danger to the defence of the realm” due to his revolutionary ideas.

    Other cultural publications linked to Hayatin Sesi have also suffered under Erdogan’s clampdown.

    Evrensel Kultur was one of Turkey’s best-selling monthly arts, culture and literary magazines but it was shut by presidential decree in October 2016, at the same time as Hayatin Sesi.

    And the magazine publishing house Evrensel Basim Yayin was also closed under Erdogan’s “Ohal” — the Turkish word for the state of emergency.

    Established in 1988, its printer and publishers were the product of a movement that grew following the coup of September 1980.

    This was a dark time for art and culture in Turkey. “The authorities wanted to stop young people from reading and developing ideas that may challenge their rule.

    “Thousands of houses were searched and books taken and burnt,” Guven recalls.

    Evrensel Basim Yayin published books in Kurdish and defended the right of Kurdish people to speak, read and be taught in their own language. This made them a target for the state.

    Guven says that Back Yard showed that culture was not just the preserve of the rich.

    “Art and culture is not separate from the working class, it is an important aspect of our lives. It is how we express ourselves and explain the world.

    “My programme gave a voice to many artists and actors who can’t speak on mainstream channels. It gave a space for them to express themselves.

    “One play, picture, song or film can’t change things on their own. It needs people, organised, to do that.

    “But art and culture can play a key role in explaining to the wider community the aims we have, what we want to achieve. It is an important tool in resistance.

    “It can affect things quite rapidly, exposing the truth to others in society. If you use this tool correctly in developing socialist ideas and building opposition then it is very powerful.

    “In Turkey we are banned from holding big public meetings or gatherings so it is difficult for us. But a song or a film can bring people together. We can reach millions.”

    The state is trying to silence opposition and crush social life and attack culture and art, she warns.

    Her message is clear.

    “We can only change the situation ourselves. Change comes through struggle, people organising together. But in Turkey it is a difficult time for ordinary people to live and to carry on.

    “It is important that everyone knows about the attacks on the media, the jailing of journalists and the closing of our TV stations and newspapers.

    “Solidarity is important and we will come through these dark times.”

    https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-b129-We-will-come-through-these-dark-times#.WIdK6n2ff6g

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  4. Monday 27th February 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Arts

    Indefensible – Seven Myths that Sustain the Global Arms Trade

    by Paul Holden et al (Zed Books, £9.99)

    Moral objections to the arms industry are often discounted because of its apparently essential role in national security, economic regeneration and employment.

    For example, Lancashire’s politicians tend to see BAE Systems, provider of Hawk Jets to Saudi Arabia, as essential to the county’s economy.

    Paul Holden and his 12 collaborators confront this “pragmatic” thinking in Indefensible, a carefully researched guide to the ruinous impact of global arms sales.

    They contest the idea that worldwide military spending of £1,340 billion — 2.3 per cent of the planet’s GDP — has a positive impact on international security.

    There is, they demonstrate, considerable spending on weapons protecting dictators against their own citizens, and there are widespread arms races between competitor states.

    As for terrorism, governments’ analysts acknowledge that battlefield interventions have left it undiminished.

    The book considers why so few questions are asked in relation to the arms market.

    Spending is justified by the need for countries to protect themselves and their allies and wrapped up in the idea of defence strategy.

    It is shown to have a complex set of financial motivations, including straightforward corruption.

    The authors demonstrate this is not confined to dictatorships and developing nations, but is rife in the US, whose Department of Commerce estimates half of all corruption is associated with the arms trade.

    The problem is further exacerbated by the cynical use of secrecy, which stifles debate and facilitates inefficient spending.

    One chapter considers the uncontrollable dispersal of arms once they enter the marketplace, another examines the assumption that arms companies make an irreplaceable contribution to national economies.

    The book uses an impressive range of graphs and case studies to show defence spending is not vital to a healthy economy: it doesn’t drive innovation or create many jobs and it is starting to make countries poorer.

    The authors suggest that diverting a small proportion of arms spending to other areas — including welfare and renewable energy — creates “enormous” economic benefits.

    They call for a broader definition of security, with an emphasis on diplomacy, more effort to reduce poverty and collaborative attempts to tackle climate change.

    Finally, they challenge the dangerous myth that now is not the time for change and propose immediate campaigning for transparency, accountability and realignment of defence expenditure with the needs of people rather than institutions.

    Indefensible is a cogently argued, well evidenced critique of an industry whose role in international affairs and national economies is seldom seriously examined.

    By Andy Hedgecock

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-2f2f-Time-to-ask-the-arms-industry-to-come-clean#.WLQaavKbIdU

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