Beyond the News
I am not sure whether this is a new millennium illness or if people are getting more politically engaged, but the violence across the world during protests is really shocking! This week, the streets of Istanbul, in Turkey, and São Paulo, in Brazil, turned into chaos and could even be compared to a war zone.
The Turkish capital seems to be out of control. Last night, on CNN Dr. Ibrahim Kalil, chief advisor of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan categorically said that the government will not step back and will keep the Police on the streets. He compared the incidents in Turkey with what happened in London last year and in Stockholm last month.
For Dr. Kalil, the issue here is around a group of vandals who must be restrained. He also said that the current government has never stopped anyone to organize public manifestations even against the Prime Minister, so the country is democratically governed and the violence was not necessary. He had much more to say, but the CNN program was running out of time and Dr. Kalil was cut off short on his conclusions. However, at the very end he was actually enquiring what would be the American government reaction if there were hundreds of people marching toward the White House with anger and armed with Molotov cocktails? That is actually a good question. However, a better question would be: what a government should do to avoid its people to go out on violent protests? This might go without an answer.
In São Paulo, Brazil, the situation is not far from that! The local Mayor, Fernando Hadad, has just increased the price of buses’ fare and hop on an airplane towards Paris, in France, where São Paulo is competing against other 4 cities (including Izmir in Turkey) to host the Expo 2020. Again, the Police cracked down on the protesters resulting in several arrests and vandalism across the city. Both, Mayor and Governor who are from oppositionist parties, got to an agreement to say that those protesters are all vandals and need to go in jail.
And again the question is: what can the government do to avoid these acts? Because the true is that once hundreds or thousands of people gather together to make their point and are ignored by their leaders, things get really nasty! If there is no negotiation, no communication, no open relationship between government and society, the result can be only one: war!
Now, answering the question that no one wanted to be asked, the best way to avoid such violent acts is simply having someone in the government who can go down on the streets and talk to people. They need to be listened. It is not possible that in a democratic country laws will be implemented without having a further discussion with those who will be directed affect by them.
In Istanbul one of the reasons why protests started was because alcohol was forbidden in the Taksim Square, while in São Paulo the bus fare plumbed from 3 Brazilian Real to 3,2 (1 BRL is around 0.4 USD). In both cases the issue was quite small and could be easily sorted if someone from the government was there to talk with people, to provide them with advices of why and when they came up with these changes. However, having power is something that touches people’s egos and it is hard to see anyone who his humble enough to listen to its people when taking decisions at a higher level.
Eventually, what supposed to be a pacific protest turns into a riot which there is no winner! You may be able to control and convince a small group of people, but once it turns into thousands you have no options unless to use violence. And only a political leader has the power to decide on what is better for his people!