What started out as peaceful protests around legitimate environmental concerns in Istanbul Taksim square last week turned into nationwide clashes between the police and the protesters in Turkey. We Turkic Canadian community unequivocally reject the use of disproportionate force, which made some of the protestors become more susceptible to provocations by extremist groups and turn violent. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of a protestor and a police officer who lost their lives. We wish for the speedy recovery to those who have been injured during the protests.
We urge the Turkish government to exercise restraint, which is largely evident in later stages of the events. We also urge the demonstrators, majority of whom are law abiding citizens, to refrain from violence while exercising their democratic rights. We condemn extremist groups who are trying to take advantage of the situation. Violence will only steer the country toward chaos, which cannot be reconciled with democratic principles.
As in any major social and political conflict, open dialog and constructive language are key in preventing bias, fear and discontent. We commend Turkish government officials for steps in that direction. The government, the opposition and civic organizations must continue to work towards advancing the democratic achievements that protect from all forms of authoritarianism.
In democratic countries such as Turkey, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly are fundamental rights. We reject any attempt to impose a lifestyle, be it by the government or via societal pressure. Governments change through free and fair elections, which Turkey has been enjoying for decades. Opposition parties, media and civil society play an essential check and balance role. Suppressing criticisms or seeking political change by chaotic tactics are unhelpful.
As Turkic Canadians, we have a huge stake in Turkey’s democratic stability and success. The relations between Canada and Turkey can only be bolstered by shared democratic values and ideals. We recognize and applaud significant reforms on the part of Turkish government to consolidate democracy and improve human rights. A fully democratic, free, stable and prosperous Turkey is a great asset for regional and global peace. We are confident Turkish democracy is mature enough to overcome its difficulties. As a friend and NATO ally, we urge Canadian government to continue supporting Turkey and its progress.