BİRGÜN DAİLY 11.04.2017 15:29

A detailed report on oppression of opponents of proposed new constitution in Turkey

A detailed report on oppression of opponents of proposed new constitution in Turkey

A week ahead of the referendum on new constitution in Turkey, CHP’s deputy chair and parliamentarian Zeynep Altıok has released a report detailing the oppression, pressure, attacks, threats, and discrimination that opponents of the controversial constitutional amendments have faced since the debates over ‘a shift to a presidential system’ had been started months ago in the country.

According to the report, there have been at least 231 cases where citizens – politicians, students, teachers, workers, journalists, and more – who expressed their opposition to the proposal were threatened, targeted, labeled, and/or attacked by either officials or ordinary citizens who are in favor of the proposed new constitution.

Furthermore, at least 330 people were taken into custody while running a ‘no’ campaign and 3 were arrested. On the other hand, 4 members of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) were dismissed from their party; 5 journalists and 12 workers were fired from their jobs; and a football referee was also suspended for simply for having said ‘no’ to the controversial amendments.

In numerous cities across the country, ‘no’ campaigners encountered discrimination as their events were banned or cancelled by government officials; their campaign materials were taken down by municipalities without a reason; and their stands were targeted by aggressors several times.

CHP MP Çetin Arık and former MHP MP Sinan Oğan were violently attacked. Campaign vehicles of HDP and CHP were targeted and damaged by aggressors.

Among hundreds of examples where ‘no’ campaigners had been treated unlawfully and discriminatively, some of the most striking ones are as the following:

In January

Earlier in January, two young adults, who are members of a civil society group Halk Evleri, were taken into custody and then detained after having gone around cafes in their town in İstanbul to do propaganda against the proposed presidential system in the country.

Members of Labor and Democracy Forces were attacked, in front of the Parliament building in Ankara, by police, who used plastic bullets and water cannons to disperse the crowd that wanted to read out a press bulletin to express their opposition.

At a ferry in İstanbul, a group of youth that sang a song with lyrics that said ‘No to Presidential System’ was stopped by security forces. Their detention was eventually avoided as people in the ferry reacted against the approach and intention of the security officials.

Headquarters of a union for public workers (Kamu-Sen) in Ankara was raided by around 25 people, who attacked people inside and demanded the president of the union to resign from post.

A day after the proposal was officially passed in the Parliament, an armed group opened fire on young ‘no’ campaigners in İstanbul, wounding one and causing him to be hospitalized.

Criminal leader Sedat Peker threatened the opponents openly in public by saying ‘we are going to be waiting for you on the streets.’

In Malatya, provincial head of the Supreme Board of Elections (YSK), Gürsel Dursun, shared a post on his personal Facebook account, saying ‘For the head of Kılçdaroğlu, I say yes’.

In February

An imam in İstanbul’s Ümraniye district accused those who are against presidential system with ‘being remiss’.

Shortly before that, PM Binali Yıldırım had also said: “The regime is not changing but what is indeed changing is the change itself. And, those who resist against change will perish.”

On social media, two teenagers shared a photograph appearing with a gun in their hands. In their posts, they wrote they will ‘be waiting for the opposition on the streets.’ The two boys were released after a short questioning by the police in Düzce.

Police in İstanbul’s Kadıköy pulled out a gun on people who were making a call on people to say ‘no’ in the referendum; three people were taken into custody.

President Erdoğan, as well as PM Yıldırım, called ‘no’ voters ‘terrorists.’

A bookstore of Kırmızı Kedi Publishing House in İstanbul was attacked after it published a book about Nationalist Movement Party and its chair Bahçeli.

A renown and widely respected news anchor, İrfan Değirmenci, was fired from his post after expressing his opposition on social media openly.

Head of a union (Türk-Büro-Sen) who is in opposition to the proposal was targetted in an armed attack.

Meeting of expelled MHP member Meral Akşaner was raided by police after the power in the building was shut down.

A banner that read as ‘No to cigarettes’ was taken down in Konya with the order of the officials.

Interview of world renown author Orhan Pamuk with Hürriyet newspaper was not published as Pamuk had revealed his opposition during the interview.

An AKP executive threatened the public by saying ‘a civil war will break if no votes win in the referendum.’

State employees in Gaziantep were taken to President Erdoğan’s public meeting forcefully.

Satellite company Digiturk removed the movie ‘NO’ from its archive.

A member of Haziran Movement was stabbed in İstanbul while distributing ‘no’ flyers on the street.
Governor’s office of Ankara banned referendum progaganda on college campuses, yet ‘yes’ campaigners continued their activities.

In March

News anchor Çiğdem Akdemir was fired from her position at BengüTürk after her social media posts reflecting her views about the referendum.

Eight workers in a campany working under natural gas provider firm İGDAŞ of İstanbul were fired after voicing their opposition.

Police in Ankara was seen and heard when saying ‘if it is a ‘yes’ flyer you can distribute it but you cannot do it if you are saying no.’

A village headman in Salihli district of Manisa was taken down from duty as it was revealed that he had not attend a meeting of Erdoğan back in February.

A senior in high school was first taken into custody for being active in ‘no’ campaigns of the youth in Hatay and released shortly. However, he was then kicked out of school at a time when college entrance exams were nearing.

Energy minister and Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak called all ‘no’ voters ‘traitors.’

Armed men in Diyadin district of Ağrı blocked the way of HDP’s vehicle and threatened the party members in the car by saying ‘No HDP car can enter this town!’

District head in Adilcevaz of Bitlis, Arif Karaman, held a meeting with the village headmen and told them: “You either cast a yes vote or I’ll take away your stamp (position).”

HDP’s referendum song was banned in Şırnak.

Ankara’s governor’s office refused giving permission to former MHP member Meral Akşener’s meeting by saying ‘we cannot provide enough security for you.’

An imam was recorded on camera while saying ‘those saying no are traitors and will go to hell.’

In various districts, lists of HDP’s polling clerks were not forwarded to board of elections as those who had prepared the lists were taken into custody.

Walls of the main office of Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) in Artvin were filled with threatening and insulting writings.

An imam in Balıkesir’s Ayvalık district made an announcement from mosque, warning residents of the town against the no voters by saying ‘Strangers are here; do not open your doors!’

Provincial office of the education ministry in Adana sent a message to teachers emphasizing it was ‘mandatory’ for them to attend Erdoğan’s meeting.

A woman in a public bus screamed in public, saying ‘Erdoğan’s fame is now world-wide. You (opponents) are going to die soon’.

A referendum song of AKP was used as ‘recess bell ringtone’ at a public school in Trabzon.

In April

A Kurdish song – Bejin Na (Say No) - used by HDP in its referendum campaign was banned in Diyarbakır and Van, following the earlier ban in Şırnak.

State-run TRT did not broadcast main opposition party CHP’s referendum video, while all sorts of news reports were shared about the ‘yes’ campaign.

In addition to hundreds of people having been taken into custody all across Turkey while campaigning against the proposed constitution, 25 ‘no’ campaigners were taken into custody by police in Van, Kocaeli, Tekirdağ, Samsun, Adana, Konya, and Kars just within the first week of April.

(Edited and translated by Burcu Gündoğan)


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