Throughout history, when societies face tough economic times, we have seen democratic reforms deferred, decreased trust in government, persecution of minority groups, and a general shrinking of the democratic space.

–Samantha Power

 

Supporters of Turkey’s Communist

Party gathered at an anti-government protest at Taksim Square.

 

Modern day Turkey emerged as independent state under the leadership of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk. Mustafa was an army officer who founded an independent Republic of Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. In the early 20th century when the European empires were scrambling for capturing more and more territory outside Europe, all European powers had their eyes on the lands of Ottoman Empire. For the purpose of sharing the lands a secret treaty titled Sykes-Picot Agreement was signed between Britain, France and Tsarist Russia. As part of the Central Powers, the alliance suffered defeat in the World War I.

Nevertheless, The Turkish War of Independence initiated by Kamal Ataturk and his colleagues against occupying Allies, resulted in the abolition of monarchy in 1922 and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, with Atatürk as its first president till his death in 1938. Falling to the trap of modernity, he sought refuge in secularization and westernization as the only model available for progress. In the process, he stifled opposition with an authoritarian hand.

Things only changed, politically, with emergence of Justice and development party that was founded in 2001. But over the time, President of Turkey RecepTayyipErdogan, also head of the Justice and Development Party, too is keen on suppressing his political opponents. This shrink of democratic space is a common phenomenon across the globe at the present.