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Raising a Red Flag

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By Ron Merk

It has never been my object in the pieces that I write to be “political” as that term is generally understood, but instead to offer my opinion on a variety of subjects, and hopefully some useful advise. But in keeping with the Metro Theatre Center Foundation’s (one of the key sponsors of this site) core mission, “The foundation is dedicated to the principle that diversity of voices which make up our world must be heard in the arts, in print, in all forms of entertainment media.”

I can no longer be silent. These words printed here are my own personal words, and to do not represent the views of the foundation. The flag of Turkey is red, with a crescent moon and a star both in white. But now that flag is stained with the blood of innocent civilians who dared to stand up the the dictatorship that poses for democracy.

There is a terrible conflict going on in Turkey, one between the repressive government and the people of Turkey. In the past I would not have been concerned about such things, “so far away they don’t have any impact on me.” But because I’m in a long-term relationship with someone from Turkey, and now have family there, my perspective (and perhaps my former disregard for things going on across the sea to which I had no personal connection) has changed dramatically. I am afraid for my family who are now living in a “war zone.”

During the time that I have spent in Turkey I have seen the changes that this ADP Party and Muslim fundamentalist agenda has done to undermine the very democracy created under the great Turkish Statesman, Ataturk. They have jailed journalists, Generals who oppose them, and anyone who speaks against their policies and their theocratic agenda. Big newspapers have been shut down, the internet interrupted, Skype, Facebook and Twitter banned because of their ability to transmit the trust. It is now a society of fear, one in which your local grocery store’s phone can be bugged, and yours, too. A police society. In his remarks, Mr. Erdogan criticized Twitter, which became an important conduit of news — and unfounded rumors — about the demonstrations, which were not covered aggressively in the Turkish news media. “Now we have a menace that is called Twitter,” he said. “The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.”

Over the weekend, as things were really going out of control in Turkey , I sent an e-mail to President Obama. Here is the text:

E-mail to President Obama – June 1, 2013

“Mr. President,
Human rights trump all issues of our vital interests in Turkey. You need to cut your support of Erdogan and his repressive government. Human rights ARE the vital interest of the United States. Otherwise all our talk of supporting democracy is just words without meaning. We need a true democracy in the Middle East, one which will stand as a shining example of what is possible in a Muslim country. Turkey is the ONLY possibility. Please support the people of Turkey, and not the government. Please do the right thing, President Obama.
Kind regards,
Ron Merk”

If we, as artists, are not concerned with basic human rights first and foremost, then we are doomed to become boring narcissists. No matter how many times we say “I” it can never be more important than when we say, “we.” I urge all my readers to write to President Obama, to your Congressional representatives and Senators, and remind them that the only vital interest we have in the world is human rights. Oil and influence be damned.

One of my Turkish family members sent me a link to a great article written by another friend, in which she really explains the nature of the struggle, and the fears of the people due to the present government, and the arrogance of Prime Minister Erdogan. “People Have Killed Their Fear of Authority,” by Ece Temelkuran.

Here is a link:

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We are all citizens of the world, no matter where we live, and when there is injustice, there are no borders, no differences among us, no disagreement about what must be done. We must stand up and say “NO” to dictators and violations of human rights, or we do not deserve the passports we carry in our hearts as that declare that we are part of the human race.

Ron Merk
Private Citizen