Open letter to Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose path to greatness lies through Ayse Berktay

Mr. Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan,

I have often written about how Turkey stands at a fork in the road where if you lead Turkey down one path, you will be seen as a greater leader than Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, "modern" Turkey's founder. I have noted several things in particular that would afford you such greatness. One is dealing forthrightly with the Kurds. Another is squarely facing Turkey's history vis-a-vis the Armenians. In both cases, Turkey should always apply the utmost in nonviolent conflict-resolution methods. Turkey, you, should set the highest standards for peacemaking and historical revisionism. I wrote those things before the current Syrian violence. I wrote them primarily on the heels of the Mavi Marmara.

While I openly advocated that the passengers on the Mavi Marmara not resort to violence, even if in self-defense, I openly denounced, and still do, the Zionists' clear murder of nine Turkish citizens and the continuing blockade of Gaza.

Mr. Erdogan, this information from Ayse Berktay, of the World Tribunal on Iraq, who is currently being held in prison in Turkey and by your orders, does not bode well for you. If she has accurately portrayed the situation (and I have no reason at this point to disbelieve her in general, secular, and common political terms), then your administration and you have made a grave error.

Allowing people openly and peacefully to debate and protest and the like is not an evil thing. What it requires is for you to be persuasive without resorting to what you insist they must not resort to: violence and such coercion.

You do not believe that Ayse Berktay is a terrorist or terrorist supporter or facilitator. The fact is, and you know it, Ayse Berktay is an anti-terrorist by virtue of the principles she has outlined. I am not saying that I know her positions well enough to be able to say that she is a pacifist under all circumstances. What I can say though is that it is highly unlikely that she has advocated or promoted, directly or indirectly, the violent overthrow of the government of Turkey where Turkey is being earnest about adhering to the principles you have claimed: fully informed democracy. You may disagree with her regarding finer points, but afford her the opportunity to make her case in public and not from behind bars. Then respond with your own facts via the same or other forums. Convince your followers and others under those conditions and do the other things I've mentioned. Then you will be on the path to greatness. Don't do what I'm saying here, and you will not go down in greatness and you will be harming Turkey in the short term and long term.

You have wanted to be a positive example for the Arab Spring and for Iran and every other country in the world. Then be that example. Order your government to immediately process and release people, such as Ayse Berktay. Meet with Ayse Berktay. Listen to her. Address her grievances as fairly as you are able. Do likewise concerning all such prisoners. Then I will be able to write that you are a great example to the world of a leader striving mightily for fundamental fairness and the good of all, which I truly want to be able to do.

Tom Usher


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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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