The rise and fall of Erdogan’s Turkey

Der Spiegel reports: Traveling through Turkey reveals a country divided. On the one side, there is Erdogan’s Turkey. It includes his hometown on the Black Sea, cities of Anatolia’s economic miracle, such as Kayseri, and of course Ankara, the seat of power. The other side is the land of his enemies. It stretches from Kurdish Diyarbakir, where people fear for their lives, to the Qandil Mountains, where Kurdish fighters have holed up, and finally to Istanbul, the nucleus of Turkish democracy.

Gültan Kisanak closes her eyes as the window panes in her office begin to shake. Every few minutes, fighter planes thunder over the town hall of Diyarbakir heading toward the Qandil Mountains. There, in the autonomous region of Kurdistan, the Turkish air force has been bombing positions of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since July 24.

Kisanak, 54, is a sturdy woman whose gray hair falls down to the shoulders of her pink blazer. Since early 2014, she has been the co-mayor of Diyarbakir — the first woman to hold the job. The pro-Kurdish HDP party, which received more than 80 percent of the vote here in June, mandates that all important offices are shared between one man and one woman.

During the election campaign, the HDP billed itself not only as a party for the Kurds, but also as an advocate of gender equality and gay rights. Above all, its candidates promised to challenge Erdogan’s plan of establishing a presidential republic. As it became clear that the HDP had received a solid 13 percent of the vote on June 7, people in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the southeast, were jubilant. They danced in the streets to an endless chorus of car horns and fireworks. All that was only three months ago. Today, the mood is grim. By nightfall, it’s quiet. Stores close early and people prefer to stay home out of fear for their lives. [Continue reading…]

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