Public resources used unlawfully by local governments in Turkey to run 'yes' campaigns

30.03.2017 23:47 BİRGÜN DAİLY

Turkey's citizens will be casting their votes in a referendum on April 16 to decide on whether to put in force an 18-articles constitutional amendments package, which will also establish a presidential system in the country in place of the current parliamentary system.

Meanwhile, as 'yes' and 'no' campaigns have been run all throught the country, the opponents of the new system have faced open threats from not only the 'yes' voters among the public but also from government officials, including the countries' president who called all the opponents 'terrorists'.

Opponents of new constitution attacked in Turkey's Denizli Opponents of new constitution attacked in Turkey's Denizli

Furthermore, several local governments in various cities in the country have been using public funds and other resources to run 'yes' campaigns although it is prohibited for municipalities to take part in the campaigns through such manners.

Ankara MP of Turkey’s main opposition party CHP, Necati Yılmaz, has prepared a report examining the referendum campaigns in Turkey between the years of 1961 and 2017 and highlighted the current pressure on the ‘no’ voters.

Titled as ‘Referendum under an unequal and unfair propaganda process,’ the report included references to 143 specific incidents where opponents of the proposed constitution were overtly pressured, threatened or faced with bans.

Yılmaz also compared the government officials’ labeling of the opponents as terrorists to the days of the 12 September 1982 coup and said: “Statements similar to those of Kenan Evren are not coincedences.”

“While the state’s resources and financial means are being used to boost the ‘yes’ votes, state’s officials in judiciary, administrative offices, and security forces are being used to suppress the ‘no’ voters. A ‘yes’ campaign is being run through the usage of the state’s resources.”

Opponents are pressured by government officials

Some of the cases listed as solid examples of how the opponents were pressured directly by state forces or how the propaganda process was led in an unlawful and unjust manner are as follows:

In Ankara, the Cosmopolitan Municipality teams and the police forces took down posters and banners of the ‘no’ campaigners from several areas.

Undercover police officers were seen taking down the ‘no’ posters at Sakarya Street, one of the busiest streets of Ankara’s downtown near Kızılay Square. As passersby reacted against this act by saying ‘it is a democratic right to make a call out for no votes’, additional police teams and municipality teams came to the site.

In İstanbul’s Esenler district, the municipality blocked the way of CHP’s campaign vehicles.

Local governments in support of new constitution breach campaign rules

In breach of the ruling of the Supreme Election Board, the Cosmopolitan Municipality of İstanbul put up ‘yes’ banners all across the city by using public vehicles.

Üsküdar’s local municipality in İstanbul, on the other hand, allocated almost all billboards in the town for the ‘yes’ voters and sponsored their campaigns.

These were among the several incidents where local governments across the country used public resources to run a campaign in favor of the proposed constitutional amendments which suggest a shift to a presidential system in Turkey.

Source: http://www.birgun.net/haber-detay/hayir-cilara-yonelik-143-baski-tehdit-ve-yasak-olayi-153393.html