I have never been an outcast in a despotic clarity of a word. we left Turkey willingly – mostly for veteran reasons – in 2011, prolonged before a crackdown on academics began. The nation was still being described as “partly free” by a Freedom House Democracy Index, nonetheless a early signs of a regime’s peremptory slip were already clearly evident.
The rest is history. Or a suspenseful fear crack with many twists. While we was enjoying a assent of a Swedish university city where a front page of a bestselling informal journal Sydsvenskan reported a “tragic story” of an undergraduate tyro who filed a troops censure about a internal beautician who over-trimmed her separate ends, Turkey was rocked by country-wide criticism movements, an augmenting troops clampdown, mass purges and a failed coup, all surfaced off by half a dozen elections and a change of regime from a parliamentary to a (super-)presidential system.
I so assimilated a ranks of a newly founded “WhatsApp diaspora”, a small, nonetheless flourishing organisation of Turkish adults in several countries who were communicating with any other by presumably secure encrypted applications and expressing their displeasure by retweeting a hashtag du jour. When during some indicate during Istanbul’s Gezi Park protests in 2013 we managed to attract a rage of a statute AKP party’s goblin army by my amicable media activism, we even perceived genocide threats – so for 3 months we went around with a special alarm, a small keyring-like red symbol that we had to censor from my afterwards three-year-old son.
All these years spent outward Turkey have taught me dual things. First, a definition of being in exile. we still wouldn’t report myself as an exile, for this would be adding insult to a damage of hundreds of thousands of others who have had to rush their homes, mostly withdrawal their desired ones behind, simply to equivocate spending a rest of their lives behind bars. we was among a prosperous ones. The threats to my life stopped overnight when a news widespread that my son was terminally ill. we could go in and out of Turkey to revisit my family as we wasn’t partial of a “Academics for Peace” organisation – a name given to some-more than 2,000 signatories of a petition that demanded a pacific fortitude to a decades-long dispute between the state and Kurdish PKK militants. And my activism on interest of my colleagues, friends and other victims of a sovereignty didn’t means me most trouble.
But we now knew how it felt to be in exile. Not usually vicariously, by a practice of acquaintances who were nude of their elementary rights and freedoms, though also by my possess clarity of detriment and nostalgia. Turkey was not my home any more. It had morphed into what was emphatically called a “New Turkey”, underneath quasi-fascist one-man rule. Finally, we could grasp a deeper definition of a line in James Baldwin’s novel Giovanni’s Room: “You don’t have a home until we leave it and then, when we have left it, we never can go back.”
Perhaps some-more importantly, looking during things from a stretch has enabled me to delineate my possess speculation of democracy in Turkey. Democracy in Turkey is like dew. we wasn’t aware, until I’d finished some research, that dew forms mostly on transparent nights when unprotected surfaces remove feverishness to a sky by radiation. Then these surfaces cold a surrounding air, and with sufficient humidity, a heat falls next a “dew point”, with effluvium condensing out of a atmosphere on to a surfaces.
This is flattering most a story of Turkey’s experiments with democracy. A lot of factors need to intersect for even a emergence of democracy to occur: transparent nights, a right temperature, sufficient humidity. When it all comes together, we have a comparatively giveaway domestic sourroundings like small oases of H2O droplets. If we are prosperous enough, droplets proliferate, combine and turn resilient. Perhaps a Gezi Park criticism was such a moment. Or a initial tenure of a AKP, when a celebration indispensable a support of several segments of multitude and a European Union to survive a troops juggernaut. Unfortunately, it takes a lot for democracy to materialise, though not most for it to be dispersed. A elementary blow, possibly by a troops or an inaugurated strongman such as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is adequate to mangle adult a painstakingly shaped droplets. And democracy evaporates.
I see a new feat of a antithesis claimant Ekrem İmamoğlu in a rerun of Istanbul’s metropolitan election as such a moment. The night was clear: a troops neutralised, a PKK degraded and a Gülenists indicted of being behind a 2016 manoeuvre attempt banished. The heat was right: a economy was not doing good and a crisis with a US over Russian S-400 missiles was simmering. And prosperous steam levels were reached when a antithesis shaped a bloc indirectly involving a Kurds and managed to commission a charismatic, unifying figure to run opposite a AKP’s vapid candidate. The domestic aspect was entirely unprotected to atmosphere when Erdoğan systematic a rerun of a elections. On a morning of 25 June, a whole of Turkey was lonesome with dew.
The plea forward is huge. It is not too formidable for Erdoğan to shake things adult and get absolved of a droplets before they combine into a pond. And after all, politics is not thermodynamics. Rules can be focussed or altered. If we wish a H2O droplets to brace and spread, we contingency strengthen them. If we wish to have a home behind – “those things, those places, those people that [we] would always, helplessly, and in whatever sourness of spirit, adore above all else”, as Baldwin wrote – we contingency retrieve it.
• Umut Özkırımlı is a domestic scientist formed during Lund University, Sweden, and a author of Theories of Nationalism: A Critical Introduction