Turkey: The last exit before the police state

A cartoon guide to Turkey’s nosedive in human rights.

If you need a detailed explainer of what the government-sponsored security bill is about, read this by Hurriyet Daily News on the 7 most alarming amendments that will turn Turkey from an illiberal democracy into a totalitarian one under AKP’s single-party rule.

If you need a tl;dr — Erdoğan’s party, which blocked Twitter before the last local elections in Turkey, are now passing a law that will criminalise any demonstration before the next general elections in June.

The government’s “security bill” is a whopping 12.000+ words text (yes, more than twelve thousand words).

It is an omnibus bill, which means that it amends many clauses of many laws. To be exact, it amends 174 different articles from the Penal Code, Terrorism Law, Law of Police Conduct, Law of Criminal Procedure, Law of Military Police, Law of Provincial Administrations and the Law on the Right to Assemble.

It is as serious as it sounds.

In a normal country, this amounts to a regime change and would require years of public debate. Yet, AKP has the majority in the parliament and the one-man leadership of Erdoğan rarely sought deliberation in his 12 year rule let alone a consensus.

Last Thursday, MPs from AKP wounded 5 opposition MPs who demanded more debate on the proposed law. The supposed deliberation has literally turned into a fist fight.

As I am writing this short piece, already 10 articles has been ratified: So from next week onwards, Turkish police can keep protesters under custody for 48 hours without notifying anyone, can carry out a strip search and car search on anyone without a court or a prosecutor’s order, and during demonstrations, water-cannons will douse coloured-water on protesters that will mark them for 3 days while the riot police can “eliminate … those who resort or attempt to violence.”

The ‘security bill’ basically gives license to the use of disproportionate power by the police and lifts the judicial supervision on them. Therefore, the human rights organisations are warning that the number of 183 people killed by police in the last 8 years will rise further.

For the worrisome nature of the bill, a lawyers’ guild, Özgürlükçü Demokrat Avukatlar (“Libertarian Democrat Lawyers”) took initiative to visualise what these amendments will mean in our lives.

And so I took an initiative to translate them.

[ A necessary note to English-speaking Erdoğan fans, since Turkey is a weird country where one is accused of being a “foreign spy” for tweeting human rights violations in English:

You can shoot the messenger, but the message is real. ]

Article 1.
Article 2.
Article 4.
Article 4.
Article 5 & 6.
Article 5 & 6.
Article 8.
Article 13.
Article 13 & 14.
Article 15.
Article 16.
Article 19 & 20.

Ümit Altaş, a lawyer from the guild I mentioned, quotes Benjamin Franklin in his article to explain the problem of those who trade security over civil liberties.

Let me add Popper:

We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than that only freedom can make security secure.