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Issue #1775      May 3, 2017

On the repression in Turkey

Turkey, for a long period of time, has been in a critical situation. In a country which not so long ago, was promising “democracy” to gain entry to the European Union, repression and imprisonment have become the daily bread of the Turkish people.

Turkey has a long history of repression. After the 1980 military coup, under the leadership of the military junta, a new constitution was drafted in 1982, which has since been met with popular protests. Turkey, under pressure to establish democracy in order to join the European Union in the early 2000s, enacted some reforms in “the fundamental law of Turkey’’. The national Security Council became the supervisory entity, for the control of the military’s influence in state institutions, and with a request from Europe, intended to reduce its grip on power.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, and accelerated the movement closer to Europe, especially in the field of human rights and made some decisions for equal rights for men and women. In 2004, in revising the constitution, the death penalty was abolished and some reforms were made in the areas of civil and criminal rights and the reduction of the military court’s power.

In 2007, with some other reforms, the election of the president was handed over to a direct election by the people and the term in office reduced from seven to five years. The practical implementation of the new law took place under Abdullah Gul (President 2007-2014), but the power remained in the hands of Erdogan, the Prime Minister at the time.

With more constitutional reforms in 2010, the composition of the court and Supreme Council of judges changed. With the third victory of AKP in 2011, censorship intensified and press and freedom of expression continued to remain suppressed. But, the Party and its leader wanted more control over the political system of Turkey.

Erdogan intends to change the current presidential system and transfer all powers to the president. However, to achieve this goal, Erdogan’s party needs to win two-thirds of parliamentary votes. In the June 2015 election, his party won a relative majority; therefore Erdogan, intent on changing the Constitution, raised the issue of a referendum. In addition to the continued oppression and aggravation of the Kurds and the religious Gulen movement, and strengthening of his position within the regime, Erdogan promoted Ali Yyldrm as his Prime Minister.

The failed coup of July 15, 2016 gave Erdogan a false and suspicious legitimacy. Repression and imprisonment became dominant for Turkish people. Eurdogan blames the Gulen movement for the coup, but not only Gulen’s supporters, but also everyone and any organisation who opposed the proposed referendum was sent to prison.

In January 21, 2017, a referendum on the constitution was approved by the parliament. The activities of unions, NGOs and the press were restricted significantly. Turkey has the highest number of imprisoned journalists in the world. Repression of the Kurds in Turkey has increasingly intensified and extended, as has resistance to this policy.

Despite repression and imprisonment, the opposition to the referendum continues. Statistics show that on average ten people were arrested daily for participating in the campaign for “NO” to the referendum. Among thousands of prisoners, from the activists of People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Party of Peace and Democracy (DBP), the confederation of Revolutionary Trade Union of Turkey (DISK), the confederation of Trade Union of Employees (KESK), Teachers’ Union (Egitim Sen), and others are in prison.

DISK and KESK Unions participated in the “NO TO THE REFERANDUM’’ actively and exposed the proposed Constitution that does not reflect the demands and rights of the working class. Political prisoners are also involved in the movement. In February 2017, 93 Kurdish prisoners went on a hunger strike in Izmir prison. Political prisoners of Suvariogullari also joined the hunger strike.

Meanwhile, 4,966 members of the HDP alone were arrested and the regime’s attack on Kurdish towns and villages has increased. The suppression includes all sectors of people and popular classes. On February 7, 2017, by the circulation of the directive of the government, 4,464 government employees, including 330 university professors, were dismissed.

After the coup, a total of 4,811 collegiate were made unemployed. In protest against the “referendum” in various government departments, employees through demonstrations and rallies have protested the repressive decisions, including the dismissal of their fellow employees.

Erdogan in parallel with the consolidation of his power at domestic level needs to expand his influence in the regional arena, as well as finding a new political situation in the global geopolitics.

Erdogan, after the criticism by the western governments of the regime’s methods during and especially after the coup, has made changes to the Turkish foreign policy.

In our view, our task is to support the resistance campaign of the workers, unions, parties and all the progressive layers of Turkish society, as well as the Kurdish people, who despite repression, imprisonment and killings, are fighting to protect their rights.

Solidarity Committee with Iranian Workers’ Movement

Next article – US demands Cambodia pay war debt

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