A HUMANITARIAN CALL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF TURKEY
PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION OF TURKEY
Address: Tunus Cad. 59 / 5 Kavaklıdere / Ankara / Turkey
Phone: +90 312 468 74 97 Fax:+90 312 426 04 53
June 2, 2013
A very extra-ordinary social movement started in Istanbul 6 days ago and spread across Turkey and other major cities of the World. At the core of the reaction was the Turkish government’s decision to demolish the historical Taksim Gezi Park in the center of Istanbul for the re-development of the area by building a commercial building in the form of an old Ottoman military building.
Besides the environmental concerns, the movement evolved into a public response to the government’s excessive and recently increasing intervention in people’s lives; its attempts to regulate the society’s way of living; its ambitious economic agenda which envisages the destruction of many natural assets of Turkey with little public discussion, from trees and hills to wildlife, for the sake of commoditization and foreign direct investment; and ruthless persecution of its own people who legitimately exercise their constitutional rights of peaceful assembly and free speech across all Turkey, with all means necessary, using weapons, aerial vehicles, panzers, tear-gas and other forms of little known chemical substances, and of course pressurized water.
In democracies, governments have to take into account the interests of their entire people, not only those who have voted for them. Governments cannot demand the public to obey them. On the contrary, governments are liable to encourage the public for the democratic expression of their demands.
As the Psychiatric Association of Turkey, we have tried to follow all the unfortunate events which have occurred in Turkey in the last few years.
We were in Bilge Village. We were in Uludere. We were in Reyhanlı. We have tried to dress the wounds of and be the voice for all trauma victims and survivors.
We have tried to tell about the wounds inflicted upon human psyche by brutal and unchecked neoliberal policies. We have tried to demonstrate that depression has become a disease spreading among all people in Turkey, and show the relationship between depression and the living, working and housing conditions of people. We have shared the bereavement of people whose water resources and villages have been destroyed. We have tried to illuminate the undesired consequences of the poor getting poorer, while the rich getting richer as well as of social exclusion and discrimination.
We have stood against the tightening regulations concerning women’s decisions about their own body forcing the rape victims to carry the fetuses conceived from rape, and politician’s public suggestions on the number of children a woman will give birth to. As the psychotherapy can be a cure only into a limited extent in such conditions, we have advocated that the reason behind female homicides on the streets of this country is not the mental disorders of people, and the solution is not psychotherapy but the true establishment of equality of women and men, which can only be achieved through educating women, creating sustainable job opportunities, developing women’s social status and ensuring that women can make their decisions about their own lives.
We have raised our voice against the transformation of the health system in Turkey, which has turned the “patients” into “customers”, who can receive as much health service as their money can buy.
We have said that silencing the weapons is the first but not the only step required for building the peace; that we need to learn how to confront and come to terms with our history and work hard to create a common social memory. We have tried to stand against civil armament.
We have said that nowhere around the world is the consumption of alcoholic drinks in social lives considered a mental illness or an addiction for centuries. We have stated that considering the rate of real alcohol addiction in Turkey the regulations for the prevention of alcohol were disproportional; which only proved to be another example of “disproportionate force” exercised by the government. We have also revealed that the prohibition on buying alcohol in the wilderness areas, stream-sides, picnics and seaside, traditional public spaces in Turkish culture, has nothing to do with the development of disorders, and is the result of disguising conservatism under the pretense of the so-called protection of society’s mental health.
We have underlined, again and again, the fact that homosexuality that has existed in all geographies through the human history is neither a mental disorder nor abnormal. Against the voices raising from the parliament denying the existence of homosexual people and considering homosexuality as an illness, we have made scientific statements explaining that for 40 years homosexuality has been accepted as a healthy state just like heterosexuality by the international and national medical associations. We have emphasized that what causes mental disorders in homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals is the discrimination against them, and governments are responsible for making legal arrangements to reduce this discrimination. As in the issue of the consumption of alcoholic drinks, we do condemn the imposition of conservative mentality ignoring homosexuals and depriving them of their basic human rights to choose their sexual orientations and freely express such orientations, as such mentality is being promoted by pseudo-scientific, untrue and outdated scientific statements.
As the psychiatrists of Turkey, we have, up until today, made every effort to heal all the mental wounds we mentioned above. But today we warn the government. Just like the incurable wounds inflicted upon the mental health of a child as a result of the physical violence of his/her most loved mother or father, the wounds of this war declared by the government and governors against their own people cannot be healed. Today, the tear gas and other unknown chemicals that cause people to be blind, have a heart attack or die, and pressurized water that breaks human bodies into pieces do not only hurt bodies; the associated mental scars shall persist to affect us even long after the body is healed, sometimes till the day we die. As psychiatrists, we cannot be able to heal these wounds.
JUST AS WE, PSYCHIATRISTS, DO, GOVERNMENTS SHOULD LISTEN TO THE DEMANDS AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEMS OF THEIR PEOPLE TO WHOM THEY HAVE PROMISED EQUAL TREATMENT.
GOVERNMENTS CANNOT SUPPRESS THE OBJECTIONS AGAINST THEM USING TEAR GAS AND PRESSURIZED WATER OR DEADLY ATTACK THEIR OWN PEOPLE!