Another Struggle: Sexual Identity Politics in Unsettled Turkey

by Kerem Öktem | published September 15, 2008

What happens when almost 3,000 men, women and transgender people march down the main street of a major Muslim metropolis, chanting against patriarchy, the military and restrictive public morals, waving the rainbow flag and hoisting banners decrying homophobia and demanding an end to discrimination? Or when a veiled transvestite carries a placard calling for freedom of education for women wearing the headscarf and, for transsexuals, the right to work?

Behind Turkey’s Presidential Battle

by Gamze Çavdar | published May 7, 2007

“This is a bullet fired at democracy,” snapped Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan, Turkey’s prime minister and chairman of the country’s ruling party, in reaction to the May 1 ruling by the Constitutional Court. The court had validated a maneuver by the opposition party in Parliament to block the nomination of Erdoğan’s foreign minister, Abdullah Gül, to accede to the presidency of the Turkish Republic. To deny the ruling party the quorum it needed to make Gül president, the opposition deputies simply stayed home. The pro-government parliamentarians voted on the candidate anyway, but the Constitutional Court agreed with the opposition’s contention that the balloting was illegal—and thus null and void.

Voices from Turkey's Southeast

by Marcie J. Patton
published in MER227

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Transgender Bolero

by Elif Shafak
published in MER230

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Villages of No Return

by Joost Jongerden
published in MER235

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Return of the Turkish “State of Exception”

by Kerem Öktem | published June 3, 2006

Diyarbakır, the political and cultural center of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces, displays its beauty in springtime. The surrounding plains and mountains, dusty and barren during the summer months, shine in shades of green and the rainbow colors of alpine flowers and herbs. Around the walls of the old city, parks bustle with schoolchildren, unemployed young men and refugees who were uprooted from their villages during the Kurdish insurgency in the 1990s.

Turkey, Cyprus and the European Division

by Rebecca Bryant | published February 25, 2007

More than years after the opening of the ceasefire line that divides Cyprus, the island is closer than ever to rupture. When the Green Line first opened in April 2003, there was an initial period of euphoria, as Cypriots flooded in both directions to visit homes and neighbors left unwillingly behind almost three decades before. But a year later, when a UN plan to reunite the island came to referendum, new divisions emerged. While Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the plan, their Greek Cypriot compatriots rejected it in overwhelming numbers.

The Pigeon on the Bridge Is Shot

by Ayşe Kadıoğlu | published February 16, 2007

“Sometimes they ask me what it is like to be an Armenian. I tell them that it is a wonderful thing and I recommend it to everyone.” These were Hrant Dink’s opening remarks at a conference entitled “Ottoman Armenians During the Collapse of the Ottoman Empire,” held in Istanbul on September 24 and 25, 2005. Those of us lucky enough to hear the mischievous introductory lines received them with joyous laughter, but we also knew we were witnesses to a lecture of historic significance, a momentous step forward in the efforts of Armenians and Turks to come to terms with the horrors of the past.

The Ceasefire This Time

by Evren Balta-Paker | published August 31, 2005

“The aim of the Turkish armed forces is to ensure that the separatist terrorist organization bows down to the law and the mercy of the nation.” Thus did the Turkish chief of staff, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, brusquely dismiss the one-month ceasefire announced on August 19, 2005 by the Kurdistan People’s Congress (or Kongra-Gel). Kongra-Gel is the name adopted in 2003 by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which had renewed its armed struggle with the Turkish state just over one year before proclaiming its latest truce.