Tag Archives: Turkey

[Blog] Turkey’s attack on Secularism By Jose Mario De Vega

Turkey’s attack on Secularism

I refer to “Turkey imposes ban on piercings, tattoos in all schools” by RT Question More, September 28, 2014.

According to the said report:

“Turkey’s government has banned all school pupils nationwide from having tattoos or body piercings in a new dress code deemed oppressive and unenforceable, according to the law’s critics.

“While tattoos are not widespread among older generations, they have seen a surge in popularity amongst the young and secular sectors of society.

“The measure, imposed by the government and published in the Official Gazette on Saturday, also prohibited a number of other things such as dyeing hair, wearing makeup and moustaches and beards for boys, according to local media reports.”

Said government measure means that “students could be punished through reprimands, suspension or expulsion.” However, “if a student fails to get a tattoo removed the punishment is not yet clear.”

Mario De Vega

Commentaries:

I condemn this latest attack by Turkey’s powers that be on the secular fabric of their society. Previous to this, a measure was set that permitted the wearing of “Muslim headscarves in schools.”

I overwhelmingly concur with the critics of the government on their denunciation that these twin set of measures is undeniably “corrosive of Turkey’s secular ideals.”

Indeed, there is a reasonable ground to believe that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “recent moves constitute steps towards the Islamisation of the country.”

I would to ask, what the hell is wrong with dyeing one’s hair? What the hell is wrong with wearing makeup? What is the problem with moustaches and beards for boys?

What the hell is the point or the purpose behind all of these measures and prohibition?

I have nothing against Islam, but if Turkey is true to what it proclaimed and says to the world that it is a secular country, then they must not only observe, but respect the vital principles of secularism and democracy.

On the Question of the Muslim headscarves in schools

The government has no right to impose to the student to wear the headscarves in school, in the same vein that the same government has no right to ban the same.

To impose to the people what the hell are they going to dress is a violation of their rights, in the same vein that to ban or to restrict what they intend to sport on or wear will also negate and impinge on their human rights!

If the people want to wear the veil, then so be it.

If the people did not want to wear the same, then let it be also, but to impose otherwise or to ban whatever they want is not within the power of the government that calls itself secular and democratic.

My view on this whole controversy is this: those women (whether they are Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jew, etc.) who wants to wear that veil (or whatever headdress), then let them do so, so long as no one is forcing them to do so!

In the same vein, those women do not want to wear that (whatever headdress is that), then so be it. Again, so long, as long it is their will and no one is forcing or compelling them not to do so
It is my firm belief that the government has no right to legislate and regulate how the hell should or must women dress up!

The government does not own them, but rather they owned the government and so as their bodies!

The government exists to protect the rights of the people, not to trample and violate those rights, because the very moment the government does so, it loses it reason behind its existence!

On the Question of those people who says: Leave Turkey Alone

Answer: if Turkey truly wants to be a legitimate member of the international community, then they have to somehow follow and conform to the universal standard of norms and civilized conduct.

If they do not want, then I say to them: stop dreaming of becoming a full-pledged member of the European Union, because base on your unreasonable measures and oppressive prohibitions, I strong doubt if the EU will ever grant you full membership! So get real and stop your series of irrational acts!

On the Question of the Ban on tattoos or body piercings in a new dress code

I would like to reiterate and strongly stresses that the same is not only absurd and idiotic, but incontestably oppressive!

The immediate question there is: how the hell the authorities are going to enforce the said measure?

I agree with the Head of the Education Workers Union, Veli Demir when he said that “it was unenforceable because tattoos cannot just be taken off like an item of clothing.”

This is what he stated, as quoted by AFP:

“What is going to happen to those (pupils) who already have tattoos? This is not a decision that a reasonable person can take. It is a decision taken without careful thought…”

I completely agree with Mr. Veli Demir that this is an unreasonable decision that we’re undertaken by an irrational powers that be or mindless authority.

Indeed, said measures were decided without careful thought!

As he categorically expressed:

“It is a decision taken by an oppressive mindset. Education is all about contributing to a child’s development and protecting them…”

I am supporting their decision of appealing the said measure before “the Council of State over the dress code as it is against the Constitution, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.”

On the Question of tattoo and body piercing

The said report also highlighted that Mr. Erdogan “has expressed distaste for tattoos in general”. He even asked a young footballer, Berk Yildiz, in July to remove his and questioning: “why do you harm your body?”

Comment:

Mr. Erdogan, your body is yours and my body is mine. Whatever the hell I wanted to do to with my body, so long as I am not hurting anyone is my business and none of yours. You personally do not want tattoos and body piercing, that is your right, but to use your public position to impose your will is not right, because it will violate the constitution that guarantees the right of the people to our/their bodies and persons.

As the American would say: Mind your fucking business and don’t tread on me!!!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy and Social Science lecturer
Unibersidad de Manila and Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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[Blog] In One with the Gezi Park Resistance: I am also a ‘capulcu’ in solidarity to the Turkish People by Jose Mario de Vega

In One with the Gezi Park Resistance: I am also a ‘capulcu’ in solidarity to the Turkish People

by Jose Mario De Vega

Mario De Vega

This is a response to the call of the eminent and radical American Professor Noam Chomsky with regard to his call to the world to support the Turkish Resistance/Occupy Movement.

I overwhelmingly concur with the great professor in his stern condemnation of Turkey authorities’ brutal police crackdown on protesters who merely are denouncing the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park.

I agree with Chomsky that the barbaric act committed by the powers that be in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities is “the most shameful moments of Turkish history”!

According to the reports, the outspoken professor has “showed his support for the Gezi Park occupiers by sending a video message with a banner saying “I am also a ‘çapulcu’ in solidarity.”

““Çapulcu” means “marauder” in English and it refers to a speech by the Turkish prime minister, who dismissively referred to protesters as “marauders.””

The Spark

According to the Hürriyet Daily News, “US philosopher Chomsky supports Gezi Park movement with video message” June 1st:

“The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality had planned to replace the little green patch surrounded by multi-storey hotels with a reproduction of the Artillery Barracks (“Topçu Kislasi”) that used to occupy the sight. According to the project revealed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the barracks would be converted into a shopping mall and could also serve as a residence with social facilities.

“However, the plans stirred huge debate among Istanbul locals, who objected to the conversion of one of the last green areas at the heart of the city into yet another shopping mall.”

According to the report to the Guardian of Constanze Letsch, “Social media and opposition to blame for protests, says Turkish PM”: ‘Social media is the worst menace to society,’ says Recep Erdogan after thousands take control of Istanbul’s main square, June 3rd:

“What started last Monday as a relatively small, peaceful protest to save an inner city Istanbul park from having to make way for a kitschy Ottoman-style shopping centre, rapidly snowballed into the largest and most violent anti-government protests that Turkey has seen in years.

“Hundreds were injured, some seriously, by the heavy-handed police response and excessive use of teargas. Riot police withdrew from the city on Saturday evening, handing a victory to the demonstrators.

“The protests had spread across Turkey to half of its 81 provinces by Sunday, the interior ministry, Muammer Guler, said. Guler said 1,750 people had been detained since Tuesday, but most had since been released, while damage costs have not yet been announced. The Turkish Doctors’ Association said the demonstrations had left 1,000 people injured in Istanbul and 700 in Ankara.”

Koray Caliskan, a political scientist at Istanbul’s Bosphorus University said that:

“Erdogan does not listen to anyone any more… Not even to members of his own party. But after the protests this weekend, he will have to accept that he is the prime minister of a democratic country, and that he cannot rule it on his own.”

He further stated that:

“The Turkish media have embarrassed themselves…

“While the whole world was broadcasting from Taksim Square, Turkish television stations were showing cooking shows. It is now very clear that we do not have press freedom in Turkey.”

Worst, “the dramatic events also exposed the complicity and almost complete government control of mainstream Turkish media, which has largely failed to report the protests.”

Tayyip Erdogan

I do not deny that formerly I place such a high hope to this man! Then, I thought that Mr. Erdogan could be a model for all Arabic and Muslim leaders for his secularism, able leadership and vibrant sense of democracy.

I even quoted him and commend him in one article concerning Syria. This is what I said in my article, SYRIA: Nations should impose economic sanction on Syria, The News Straits Time, (Malaysia), March 14, 2012:

I praise the bold stance of the Turkish government under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, especially when he stated at a press conference held in Tripoli:

“Those who are attacking their people with tanks and guns will not be able to remain in power.” The Syrian authoritarian regime “will eventually have to pay the price for this”.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot!

Mr. Erdogan is now the one who is attacking his people who are merely protesting peacefully with extreme police brutality and worst, he is sanctioning the on-going state violence against his very own people! What a shame!

Then, this person who enjoys a substantial global support is now being mock as a dictator and an enemy of his own people. He attacked the dictators of Syria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt for their evil acts against the people, yet now, he is also doing the same things that he attacked — to his very own people!

I do not know now the difference between Erdogan and those dictators that he condemned. Nonetheless, in my view, they are all the same; they are all pieces that were cut from the same clothes. In a word: all of them are dictators.

What a shame!

Sad but true, but he has already shown his true colors. He is not what a true, secular and liberal Muslim leader and model should be!

Warning

The Turkish dictatorship must learn from the lessons of history. If not, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his cohorts will suffer the fate of the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya who were thrown out by the collective powers of the people, while the Syrian dictator is on his way to the garbage-can of history!

It is on this great and noble sense that I join iconoclast professor Chomsky in his official written statement, dated June 1st pledging his support and forging solidarity to the Turkish protesters.

“I would like to join Amnesty International and others who defend basic human rights in condemning the brutal measures of the state authorities in response to the peaceful protests in Taksim in Central Istanbul.

“The reports of the past few days are reminiscent of some of the most shameful moments of Turkish history, which, it seemed, had been relegated to the past during the progress of the past years that has been welcomed and praised by all of us who wish the best for Turkey and its people…”

To the people of Turkey

Turkish brothers, sisters, friends and comrades:

Soldier on! Continue with your just and noble Struggle! You are not alone! We are with you! WE SHALL OVERCOME!!!

WE ARE ALL CAPULCU!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
Polytechnic University of the Philippines
Far Eastern University

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[Blog] In Defense on the Women’s Rights and Welfare by Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

In Defense on the Women’s Rights and Welfare
by Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

I refer to the shocking and truly outrageous news pertaining to the controversial decision handed by Turkey’s judiciary in a high-profile rape case. According to the report of Dorian Jones from Istanbul, this particular case involves a Turkish “appeals court reducing the prison sentences of more than 20 men convicted of having sex with a 12-year old.” As of the moment, the same is pending at the European Court of Human Rights and has become the focal point of growing anger.

Indeed, the “case of the girl, legally known as NC, continues to cause outrage and anger” in the said country.
In fact, “last November, hundreds of people protested in the Istanbul, condemning Turkey’s Court of Appeal ruling that the then 12-year old child consented to being raped by more than a dozen men and sentenced most to only one or two years in jail”.

As a close student of the law and a practicing philosopher, this is one of the most stupid and utterly preposterous arguments, if one rational being could ever construe it as such in my entire conscious life.
How on earth could a 12-year old girl, a minor at that could ever gave a voluntary, fully informed and untainted consent?

It seems to me that that idiotic court is telling the whole world that a man or in this undeniably outrageous case, a group of sexual predators can secure consent from a child for her to be their sexual slave?!
This is the height of absurdity and inhumanity!

Worst, as fully documented by the Human Rights lawyer, Eren Keshkin:

“From the beginning this was terrible court case, she said, involving a 12-year-old girl who was an orphan. She was abducted and held for months, where she was rented out to be raped by more than a dozen men, which included local state officials and an officer in the army. The lawyer said all of these men are supposed to protect the people.

Keskin said the case exposes the worst aspects and deficiencies of the Turkish justice system in how it treats female victims of sexual crimes, especially minors. She said she was appalled at how NC was treated through years of legal hearings.

“The judges humiliated her, demanding she explain in detail what was done to her in front of the defendants. Keskin said there was no support for her in the court, no protection, she was the accused, it’s was very hard for her”.
I concur with the sharp observation of this valiant advocate that the said “case highlights that Turkish law is very male orientated and feudal in its mentality”. Further, “she added that there have been many positive changes to the law, but in its application and implementation there have been only small steps”.

The victim is now a fully grown woman, her lawyer Keskin is still steadfastly supporting her. NC is also planning to attend a university.

Though her quest for justice has ended unfortunately in Turkey, all is not lost and the struggle continues. I applaud her and her advocate in elevating the said case to an international court!

Hence, as already noted she is now seeking redress in the European Court of Human Rights, where Keskin hopes and so would I; NC will finally get that elusive justice and attain that moral vindication!

This detestable case is also related in a sense with regard to the heart-breaking news of a 16-year old Moroccan girl who committed suicide after she was forced to marry the monster who had raped her.
Added insult to injury, this young lass decided to end her life, just days after the world celebrated the International Women’s Day! This is so ironic! What a shame! Such infamy and barbarity! Sad but true!

According to the reports:

The suicide last Saturday of Amina al-Filali, who drank a lethal amount of rat poison, sent shockwaves through Morocco and sparked widespread calls for reform of law that ostensibly defends family values”.

As a Humanist, I do not understand what do they meant by family values or what their concept of honor is. Yet, I know that it is against all values and virtue to rape and sexually assault a woman against her will and consent. My idea of honor is that by respecting all women, because all women carries with them the images of our mothers, sisters, aunties, grandmothers, wives, friends and daughters.

Hence, following the logic of this argument, the moment I dishonor any woman’s honor and violated their persons, I am also in a sense dishonoring and violating the images and honor of all the female members of my own family. I am not a man, but an animal; an animal of the worst kind!

As the mother of Amina asked:

“Can you imagine that a man who forced a girl to follow him with a knife, and who rapes her, could then want to marry her?”

Needless to state, I am firmly condemning and categorically denouncing Amina’s assailant and rapist to the highest possible degree! This monster has no right to exist in a civilized society or any decent community for that matter!
I am also renouncing and criticizing to the maximum extent the discriminatory mind-set and backward culture of both Turkey and Morocco with regard to their unjust, unfair, totally inhumane and completely barbaric treatment of women!
These two societies must change, if they fully want to join the international community of nations.

First, they must amend and/or repeal their archaic, barbaric and backward laws. Second, they must pass strict legislation that will fully protect women’s rights and welfare! Third, assuming there is already the existence of a good law; the relevant authorities concerned must implement and execute the law without bias or discrimination. Finally, said laws must be equally applicable to all! They must render justice without fear or favor! Needless to state, the basis of the law should be reason, not passion or culture or belief and traditions!

The continuing struggle for purposes of upholding and protecting the rights, general welfare and over-all well-being of all women is the interest and duty of all Humanity!

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[From the web] Taking the Istanbul Protocol forward -worldwithouttorture.org

Taking the Istanbul Protocol forward.

Creating national plans for documenting torture – and UN monitoring of it – is hopefully the next stage for IRCT’s work with the Istanbul Protocol

A main impediment for torture victims to access justice is their lack of access to have physical and mental trauma documented by qualified medical experts. Without such evidence, cases are often dismissed without trial and the victims branded as lacking credibility.

Simply, for torture victims to take a case forward and for perpetrators to be held accountable, victims need access to documentation of their trauma provided by qualified experts.

For more than 10 years, the IRCT and key partner organisations have been working on ensuring effective access for all torture victims to a competent, independent and impartial medical/psychological examination of their trauma. This has mainly been done through promotion of the Istanbul Protocol, the UN-recognised standard and guide on documenting torture.

For example, through the IRCT’s collaboration with key forensic scientists, we have been able to use the Istanbul Protocol in key torture cases, such as with Khaled Said in Egypt.

Read full article @ worldwithouttorture.org

[In the news] OFWs in Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey won’t benefit from double taxation treaties — NGO -InterAksyon.com

OFWs in Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey won’t benefit from double taxation treaties — NGO
by Veronica Uy, InterAksyon.com
February 2, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino workers in Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Qatar, and Turkey will not benefit from the treaties against double taxation being pushed for ratification by the Department of Foreign Affairs, a migrant workers’ group said Thursday.

According to the Center for Migrant Advocacy, which attended the Senate hearing on the matter, OFWs in these countries are already exempt from taxation on income earned from overseas employment.

The Senate needs to ratify the conventions for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion With respect to taxes on income with these countries before they become enforceable.

CMA executive director Ellene Sana said these bilateral agreements seem to benefit foreign companies engaged in business in the Philippines more than OFWs in the four countries.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com