|Turkey's visionary leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk|
Throughout his presidency, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk diligently implemented his visions of a modern nation.
For over 600 years, Turks had only known Sultans as absolute monarchic rulers, a system to be obeyed.
But to bring his nation into a new era, Atatürk knew he needed to expedite Turkey’s social, political, and technological standards to those of Europe. He also understood that encouragement was needed for the citizens who were war-shocked, exhausted, near poverty, and confused about this new way of governing.
He was also quite aware that progress meant a struggle with those who advocated the return of ancient traditions and the religious Ottoman Sultanate dynasty.
Atatürk scrapped the archaic, convoluted Ottoman form of government and replaced it with policies and principles based on Swiss and other European laws. More than just trading one system for another, Atatürk dedicated himself to his people, believed in them, and knew that they would value the reformations as deeply as he did. As a result, Turkey was transformed into a secular nation with westernized legal, economic, social, educational, and cultural programs.
The following highlights the most prominent aspects of Atatürk’s reforms:
- Abolished the Ottoman Sultanate (late 1922).
- Declared the Turkish Republic (29 October 1923).
- Formed the office of Prime Minister, President, and a democratically-elected National Assembly (1923).
- Adopted a new constitution (1924).
- Abolished the Caliphate (leadership of the Muslim religion) and restricted its theocratic institutions (early 1924).
- Replaced the religious education system with a national education system (1924).
- Adopted the Gregorian calendar and western time zone system, including defining the workweek as Monday to Friday (1925).
- Prohibited the veil and other religious-based clothing but only encouraged western-style clothing for women. Atatürk believed that women would follow fashions according to their free will.
- Enacted a revised legal system, including the Civil Code, Penal Statute Law, and Trade Law, based on Swiss and Italian civil law (1924-1937).
- Replaced the Arabic script with the Latin alphabet, which was mandated to be taught in schools (1928). Atatürk believed that the Latin alphabet would be easier to teach to a largely (90%) illiterate population, easier to learn, and therefore would immediately impact the literacy rate.
- Promoted construction of thousands of new schools, made literacy reform a priority, and made primary education compulsory and free.
- Accelerated Turkey’s post-war economic development by establishing state-owned factories for textile and agricultural industries.
- Supported construction of the national Turkish State Railways (1927).
- Modernized state banking systems.
- Promoted advancement in the fields of science, health and medicine, law, and education.
- Adopted the international numeric system (1928).
- Supported Turkey’s culture by establishing a Turkish Historical Society (1931), a Turkish Language Association (1932).
- Adopted the International System of Units to standardize national measurements (1933)
- Changed the tax code to reduce the tax burden on peasants.
- Enacted women’s suffrage rights (1934).
- Legalized gender equality and women’s emancipation rights (1926-1934).
- Passed a law to require that everyone have a surname instead of surnames based on titles of honor (1934).
- Developed foreign policies of neutrality and cultivated friendly international relationships.
- Replaced a provincial legal system (called millet) that allowed every minority community to govern themselves with a unified, secular constitution.
- Established the Directorate for Religious Affairs, which affirmed the new Republic of Turkey’s protection and equality of all religions, including Islam.
- Encouraged reform of the Turkish language by establishing a Language Commission that replaced foreign words with Turkish ones with standardized spelling and phonetics.
- Declared that “Culture is the foundation of the Turkish Republic.” Strongly supported the arts, such as opera, theatre, literature, and music; opened museums; encouraged interest in Turkey’s indigenous Anatolian heritage, eg, naming the state-owned banks Sümerbank after the Sumerians and Etibank after the Hittites; and encouraged the importance of Turkish folk Art.
“Increasing threats, violations and attacks against our country’s independence will not withhold us from our ideals and aims. The Turkish nation is defending its independence as it did 96 years ago with the inspiration from its thousands of years of historic values,”
Parliamentary Speaker Binali Yıldırım, Vice President Fuat Oktay, Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, high judicial authorities, ministers and top soldiers were among guests who visited Anıtkabir as a part of official celebrations.
So far, President Recep Tayip Erdogan, now the sole ruler of Turkey, major claim to success has been the elimination of all opposition forces against his regime, which included:
1) Some 160,000 people were detained for questioning, of which over 77,000 were formally arrested for alleged links to terror organizations, including Gulen’s network and outlawed Kurdish rebels. Those arrested include military personnel, police, journalists, lawmakers, judges and prosecutors.
2) According to Justice Ministry figures, close to 35,000 people put on trial for links to Gulen’s network have been convicted so far. Around 14,000 others were acquitted.
3) More than 130,000 people have been purged from the public service through emergency government decrees. Those dismissed include tens of thousands of teachers and close to 6,000 academics. Around 1,300 people were re-instated to jobs by a commission that was set up to review cases but 18,000 other appeals were rejected.
4) Some 170 generals and around 7,000 other senior military officers were arrested as part of the crackdown. At least 58 generals and 629 senior officers have been convicted to life terms in prison so far in trials against military officers, according to Justice Ministry figures. Eight generals were acquitted.
5) At least 143 journalists or media workers are currently behind bars, most accused of links to Gulen or Kurdish rebels, according to the Turkish Journalists Syndicate. Using emergency decrees, the government closed down around 200 media organizations, including newspapers, periodicals, radio stations and television channels.
6) Ten legislators from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish political party, including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, are in prison on terror charges for alleged links to Kurdish militants. Enis Berberoglu, a legislator from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, is in prison convicted of espionage for giving an opposition newspaper images allegedly showing Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria.
7) Human rights activist and businessman Osman Kavala is in jail pending trial, accused of seeking to overthrow the government and having alleged links to Gulen. Eleven prominent activists were arrested last year at their hotel on an island off of Istanbul while on training. They were eventually released from jail pending the outcome of their trial for supporting terror groups. Among them was Taner Kilic, Amnesty International’s former Turkey chairman, who was released earlier this month.
“Authenticity is the language of visionaries" wrote - Unfortunately Turkey today lacks that vision, so brilliantly carried out by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and is turning back the clock towards pre-Atatürk days.
A report from the Canadian AP Global News