Individuals can force change

Lale Kemal
Lale Kemal

Date posted: March 21, 2014


Nelson Mandela has shown that individuals can enact change if their cause is noble and if it is for the good of society. Mandela, who passed away last year, sacrificed his life to end the state-sponsored apartheid policy in his country, South Africa.

His devotion to a cause made it possible for the masses, segregated by the whites simply because of the color of their skin, to rally behind him and thus yielded success in ending the apartheid regime in South Africa. Imprisoned for 27 years on charges of attempting to change the apartheid policy, Mandela later rose to the top, becoming the president of his nation. One of his sayings is “[Ending the apartheid policy] is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

The film “Long Walk to Freedom,” based on Mandela’s autobiography of the same name, which chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming president and working to rebuild the country’s once-segregated society, was shown in various European countries as well as in South Africa after his death. British actor Idris Elba, who starred as Mandela in the film, had said in an interview with the BBC that he would recommend that his 11-year-old daughter see the film so that she could learn how an individual can enact change.

Similarly, thousands of individuals taking to the streets or a handful of bureaucrats can also enact change by not keeping quiet against the abuse of power by their country’s leaders who are moving towards an authoritarian rule.

In Turkey, I am of the opinion that a handful of bureaucrats leaked documents relating to the Dec. 17 corruption and bribery scandal of last year implicating the government, risking their future careers for the good of the nation. This is despite the fact that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been accusing the faith-based Hizmet group, its leader Fethullah Gülen and its followers of orchestrating the graft investigation to undermine his government.

Ahead of local elections due to take place on March 30, the government and Prime Minister Erdoğan have been using election rallies to defame Hizmet followers as well as the opposition, whose distaste of the government has increased since the corruption and bribery scandal.

This nation has, for the first time, been witnessing open verbal attacks and insults coming from its prime minister against all opposition groups in the country.

Erdoğan sees no problem in openly insulting his opponents. He has gone too far in his never-ending hate speech, which has included 15-year-old Berkin Elvan, who recently died after spending nine months in a coma after being hit by a tear gas canister while going to buy bread during last summer’s anti-government protests. Erdoğan accused Berkin of having links to terrorism. Nevertheless, according to him, all protesters are terrorists.

But Erdoğan’s campaign to silence the opposition does not seem to be working and, on the contrary, seems to be further provoking thousands of citizens to go out onto the streets in protest of his authoritarian policies as well as his attempts to take all measures possible to make the graft investigation allegedly involving him and his family disappear.

Can it be possible that as claimed by Erdoğan, the Hizmet movement, said to have followers within the judiciary and the police who were responsible for conducting the graft investigation in line with legal procedures, orchestrated the corruption investigation to undermine his government? Instead of Erdoğan’s accusations that the Hizmet movement had plotted to unseat his government, couldn’t it have been a handful of good men and women within the bureaucracy, i.e., the judiciary and the police, who leaked the investigation documents on Dec. 17 to the public to prevent these crimes from being covered up?

Indeed, I am of the opinion that despite the government’s claims of a big organizational network being behind the disclosure of the graft investigation with the alleged intention of plotting to undermine his rule, this is most possibly the work of good men and women in the bureaucracy who could not stomach the possibility that a big corruption network was going to be concealed. These are the people who sacrificed their future for the good of the nation.

Recent history has witnessed individuals like Mandela, masses taking to the streets or a handful of bureaucrats who played a significant role in enacting a change, transforming their societies into democracies.

The Turkish government has fallen into the trap of not realizing the reality that even individuals can enact change and that the truth will be revealed, if not today, eventually.

Source: Todays Zaman , March 20, 2014

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