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A Turkish National Day question: Abroad or prison?

267 5 1
19.05.2017
Today is May 19, the anniversary of the date when a handful of military and civilian leaders led by general Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) set out for the Black Sea port of Samsun, from Istanbul, in 1919. They were due to launch a war of resistance against armies occupying the last remaining parts of the empire under the fading Ottoman dynasty.

The last straw breaking the camel’s back was the British-backed Greek occupation of the Western city of İzmir just four days before, on May 15. Sultan Vahidettin and his cabinet, led by his son-in-law Ferit, were in open collaboration with the victors of the First World War. According to the armistice that the Sublime Porte signed on Oct. 30, 1918, the Ottoman army was supposed to abandon all arms, empty its garrisons, hand over all ports and railways, and all communication centers to the victorious powers and their local supporters.

The resistance against occupiers turned into a war on two fronts: The war against the occupying Greek, British, French, Italian, Armenian and Georgian armies and the war against the military and civilian forces loyal to the sultan, who still held the title of Caliph of all Muslims at the time. That second front is often ignored or skipped over. But ultimately it was only possible to maintain the continuity of the Turkish state and build a new nation from the ashes of the former regime by changing the borders, capital and entire perception of the world into a secular, Western-oriented one.

But on this particular National Day, it is sad for this news editor to be publishing stories with headlines like “Two Turkish generals seek asylum in Germany.” A similar wave of escapes from Turkey was seen in the years after the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup, when dissidents fled from the military regime that toppled the elected government by force in order to escape a landscape of mass arrests, torture and unfair trials.

Today, after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, dissidents are........

© Hürriyet Daily News