Continuing Crackdown on Speech

Photo from Hurriyet

Journalists are continually hauled into court for what they write or who they speak to in pursuit of a story. Some are acquitted, but the prosecutions have harassment value. (see the Bianet website for the various cases). Protestors in the street and on university campuses are strong-armed and arrested for speech and banners critical of the AKP. Recently a busload of students going to Istanbul for a protest against AKP were not allowed to enter the city and kept on the buses for hours, not allowed to leave even to use a bathroom. When they tried to get off the bus, they were tear-gassed, causing some students (at least one had asthma) to faint. (click here and see photo above.) And now the courts give them prison sentences. (click here for full story):

The Sarıyer (Istanbul) 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance handed down a 1year and three months prison sentence each to 18 students of the Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ). The students were punished for protesting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the course of the politician’s visit on the occasion of an opening ceremony at the university.

The trial against the 18 students was opened two years ago in 2008. The court convicted the students under charges of opposing Law No. 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations. The sentences were postponed due to a lack of criminal record of the defendants.

The young defendants were convicted on 5 November. The sentence will be executed if they commit the same sort of crime within the coming five years. The students had shouted slogans critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during the prime minister’s visit and posted banners reading, “The İTÜ madrasah”, “An AKP government movie”, “The great invasion”…

UPDATE: Here’s a video of the police beating the students. According to the newspapers, one young woman screamed that she was pregnant, but was beaten and kicked anyway and lost her baby. (Thanks for the reference, Bulent)

30 Responses to “Continuing Crackdown on Speech”

  1. Welcome to the democracy a la Turca!

  2. Recently a busload of students going to Istanbul for a protest against AKP were not allowed to enter the city and kept on the buses for hours, not allowed to leave even to use a bathroom. When they tried to get off the bus, they were tear-gassed, causing some students (at least one had asthma) to faint. And now the courts give them prison sentences.

     
    To save you time copy pasting all that drama, you could have simply used the word ‘kettling’ [here].
     
    And, as we all know, it is widely used in the best of ‘democratic countries’. See here, or here where one comment says this:

    Police planted an old police van in Whitehall in the middle of 4,000 demonstrators, we asked the police to remove it, they refused. Police only 20 yards from the van refused to protect it. They wanted it to be attacked. The ‘attack’ on the van was an excuse to kettle 4,000 people for 8 hours, some 11 years old. We had no water or toilets for 5 hours. The news media worked with the police to fabricate the story.

  3. So what exactly is the difference between AKP’s “conservative democracy” and that of the 1980s? oh wait, we are supposed to blame the constitution, right? It is always a win-win situation for the almighty PM.

  4. [...] Continuing Crackdown on Speech from Kamil Pasha by Jenny White Photo from Hurriyet VN:F [1.9.6_1107]please wait…Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)VN:F [1.9.6_1107]Rating: 0 (from 0 votes) Wikio Wikio [...]

  5. CA, tactics from abroad like ‘kettling’ and things like translated US army counter-insurgency manuals etc. were used in the pre-coup escalation period and early ’80s (Cingoz’s reference) to imply — at least — Western (US) know-how was behind what happened here. I note the scare/sarcasm/irony quotes you used when you typed ‘democratic countries’ and indeed the principle of unimpeded expression of dissent and other similar principles need defending everywhere.
    .
    This observation does not excuse police brutality or juridical harassment here. That’s the point I’m after. The goings on in Turkey, because they happen in such exaggerated form, might provide clues to folks who reside in places to our West why the principles they hold dear are worth holding dear and how it needs to be a continuing struggle to understand them and hold on to them.
    .
    I type all these half-baked ideas because I just read something by John Bolton, that I’d giggle and call utterly un-American: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/dec/05/obama-us-security-danger-threats
    .
    Look, after all the stuff we talked about here (and elsewhere) about our politicians’ war against the ‘net, this, from someone who’s been in government in the land of the free, should look familiar:
    .
    Finally, the Pentagon’s cyber-warriors need target practice in this new form of combat, and they could long ago have practised by obliterating WikiLeaks’ electrons.
    .
    Let us find a psychic to get us Jefferson’s soul, explain to him that Bolton means the US army and barrels of ink used to embarrass the Fed. gov’t and see him turn into and angry poltergeist who slaps some heads around.

  6. OH, here: Tekmelerden bebeğini düşürdü. (According to the report: One of the protesters beaten up was pregnant, told the cops she was, got hit anyway, lost her baby.)

  7. BM,

    I was in fact criticizing our “liberal” media and columnists for using the same oppressive rhetoric of the regime they think they had been removing, particularly in reference to handling dissident views and protests. You may have heard some of these comments on TV. Check particularly the “yandas media” if your stomach can handle. It is the same story I have heard many times before, such as “students should be students”, or that “students were violating the LAWS” and etc. but of course that should not have happened, and etc. Moreover, the yandas media and political figures were blaming the 1983 constitution as if violently beating up students was in the articles or the constitution ordered the police to gas students. Not long ago, our liberal culprits were crying after covered girls at universities. Today, they are trying to come up with excuses for this incident…Is this the real face of “conservative democracy”? The same old meal in disguise?

  8. Cingoz, I hear you. These people are in places they are and have the reach/influence they have in part because of their audience. Doing the things they do and saying what they say is how they make their living. At this point the only thing I’ll be happy to hear from our respected ‘liberal’ pundits is: “would you like fries with that?” I am not in their target audience though and others like these people.

  9. Cingoz, these “liberal columnists” are nothing but hypocritical, unprincipled, despicable sold-outs! They are worse than Islamists.

  10. BM,

    tactics from abroad like ‘kettling’ and things like translated US army counter-insurgency manuals etc. were used in the pre-coup escalation period and early ’80s (Cingoz’s reference) to imply — at least — Western (US) know-how was behind what happened here.

     
    Well.. Then, how do we explain the habitual sinners preaching us how to repent?
     
    I note the scare/sarcasm/irony quotes you used when you typed ‘democratic countries’ and indeed the principle of unimpeded expression of dissent and other similar principles need defending everywhere.
     
    First, I am not sure there’s ever been a principle of unimpeded expression of dissent.
     
    For dissent, by definition, is opposition; and its opposition will only naturally act to silence/impede it.
     
    IOW, struggle is inherent/implicit.
     

    This observation does not excuse police brutality or juridical harassment here. That’s the point I’m after.

     
    I am not defending police brutality. Police behavior isn’t my focus here.
     
    My focus is seeing things put as if nothing of the sort ever happens anywhere in the West..
     
    I find this.. ummm.. not very fair.
     

    The goings on in Turkey, because they happen in such exaggerated form, might provide clues to folks who reside in places to our West why the principles they hold dear are worth holding dear and how it needs to be a continuing struggle to understand them and hold on to them.

     
    I am sorry, but I have to question this assertion too. I don’t think there exist such principles in the West that they’d like to apply to anyone but themselves.
     
    Just look at JW’s ‘essay’ in the other post and see that she is asking/demanding that Muslims preach one another ‘peace’ while she never even subconsciously seem to ponder what the heck US (and several allies, including TR) is doing in Afghanistan..
     
    Would you say it’s an aggressor on high horse parading as a liberal intellectual or the other way around?

  11. CA, no. We’ve had this conversation before. When police beat people up here, how is it an opportunity to write this:
    .
    My focus is seeing things put as if nothing of the sort ever happens anywhere in the West..
    .
    So, say, when Dink got shot, if Jenny had her blog and linked in a story, we’d have said “oh yes MLK got shot too” or something like that?
    .
    I am sorry, but I have to question this assertion too. I don’t think there exist such principles in the West that they’d like to apply to anyone but themselves.
    .
    That’s irrelevant for what I was thinking. I am saying that things we (Turks) do to ourselves in somewhat more brutal/heavy-handed form are — in some non-trivial ways — useful for them and in their context. I was mainly just looking for a way to segue into that Bolton piece, and had gov’t interference with the net in mind though.

  12. Can someone show me if and when (and where) Jenny claimed she had a pass to critique Turkey for this kind of abuse and breach BECAUSE nothing of the kind occurred in the US or the West?

  13. Cingoz makes an excellent point. Law no. 2911 was a product of the 1980 regime (dated 1983). I guess we have to assume that the constitution requires that this law must exist. So we have to wait for the constitution to change first. Speaking for myself, bu hayvan kulunuz terli…

  14. Nihat,

    Can someone show me if and when (and where) Jenny claimed she had a pass to critique Turkey for this kind of abuse and breach BECAUSE nothing of the kind occurred in the US or the West?

    Isn’t this a rather oddly/convoluted worded question?
     
    Shouldn’t you, instead, ask/show where JW ever criticised a similar tihing happened in her /turf/?.

  15. Turkish police should go to the USA, Canada, and Europe and learn how to deal with protesters. The western police let (sometimes attract) protesters to attack themselves. Because it is a sign of modernity. Violence is a part of oriental civilization. The Westerners produce the latest technology guns for the Eastern people hungry for violence(look at Iraq). (Also they have porn industry to feed Oriental people hungry for sex). Turkish people should first change their oriental manners and mentality. It is not just AKP or Turkish police, the problem is being Turkish, Muslim and Oriental. I think God created (and still does create) Eastern people to test the Westerners, the chosen people.

    Parviz and other Eastern people who adore Western civilization,
    please do agree wit me! You can not be western but at least you guys hate your own civilization. Bravo!

  16. Polise karşı aşırı şiddet kullanıldı (No, it isn’t your Turkish folks, he said what you think he said.)

  17. BM,

    When police beat people up here, how is it an opportunity to write this

    It’s not the first time, nor it seems it will be the last time. The reason I can say this in full confidence is because the same thing –or worse– happens in the ‘civilized world’ too.

    So, while idealist alarmism is always nice and politically correct, keeping a cool head and looking at/for the pattern(s) seems to be the more sensible aproach AFAIC.

    So, say, when Dink got shot, if Jenny had her blog and linked in a story, we’d have said “oh yes MLK got shot too” or something like that?

    It all depends who is saying it and what part of that tragedy s/he is emphasizing.

  18. Do the American or European polices follow the principle of “whoever shall slap thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other.”

    By the way here is the video of the lady who (unfortunately) lost her baby, look what she was doing.

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xfzzxk_yyte-bebeyini-duyuren-eylemcinin-goruntuleri_news

    A note for for the friends of America and the haters of AKP: Those protesters and the lady who lost her baby hate AKP that, they think, is puppet of the United States.

  19. BM,

    OH, here: Tekmelerden bebegini düsürdü. (According to the report: One of the protesters beaten up was pregnant, told the cops she was, got hit anyway, lost her baby.)

    The link you gave points to a ‘cable’ from Firat Haber Ajansi.
     
    This is the same News Agency that performs admirably as mouth piece for PKK.
     
    Now, don’t get me wrong; but, have you seen any confirmation of that report; or, follow-up about the state of that ‘ex-pregnant’ young woman of 19?
     
    I haven’t.
     
    There’s also one more oddity: If she is 19, then she is clearly not a child –in legal sense of the word. In that case, why do they use initials and not the complete name?
     
    So, unless I see a confirmation of that /dramatic/ story from an independent source, I’ll consider it fishy.

  20. No, it’s not convoluted, CA. I don’t share your perspective, so I don’t ask the question you prefer is asked.

  21. CA, I am aware of where it came from. That’s why I was (as was Jenny) extra careful to [redundantly] say ‘according to the report.’
    .
    Now, don’t get me wrong; but, have you seen any confirmation of that report; or, follow-up about the state of that ‘ex-pregnant’ young woman of 19?
    .
    No, but I didn’t look either. I was thinking other papers would check perhaps, before they put it in. Police beatings of women are somewhat commonplace (remember the “women’s day” beatings?) and ‘claimed’ (but not visible) pregnancy doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that’d deter them. That doesn’t mean it did happen, of course.
    .
    I happen to know a woman who was beaten far more mildly some years ago, and as she ages it seems what was once a mild discomfort is going to cause her to go into that orthopedist-phy. therapist-surgeon cycle, repeatedly. (Nobody close just someone I know and bump into occasionally.) That’s partly why I didn’t answer you. There just is no point in bickering about who of what nationality said what when or what happens in Europe, US or Mars. There can be no justification for law enforcement meting out punishment on its own even against people who are or might be aggressive. This is not that hard to understand or communicate. Of course people (and people in power) do try to provide apologetics and by doing so are delaying improvement perhaps by minutes, perhaps by a few more kicks with every sentence they utter. That’s what I think/feel. You can imagine how I’d react to the ‘PC’ characterization of that feeling.
    .
    Anyway, we cannot even know why these cops apparently ignored their superiors’ orders on the bullhorn (as was reported). Partisanship? Some other ideological hatred? Why is it so hard to handcuff and detain people w/o taking [what looks like] revenge?
    .
    So, unless I see a confirmation of that /dramatic/ story from an independent source, I’ll consider it fishy.
    .
    Maybe. It wouldn’t be the first time. Somehow in pretty much all such cases lying is seen as legitimate. This is why people didn’t believe much of the Diyarbakir prison stories when the rumors first started circulating, remember? Sure horrible stuff was happening, but as if the truth wasn’t bad enough we’d been hearing a lot of lying from the left too. This is what seems to happen here when people believe they are absolutely on the ‘right’ side of things.
    .
    On the other hand look what the list of things we have learned here if only by implication. Police is justified in punishing people for bad behaviour/aggression/violence towards them. Those of us who’ve been here longer, other than being this that and the other, are supposedly also the kind of people who may like police brutality when it is done on anti-US people. Oh and that we have a system here that can teach young people two languages without giving them an iota of sense or capacity for shame.

  22. Nihat,

    No, it’s not convoluted, CA.

    You ask a question like “Can someone show me if and when (and where) Jenny claimed she had a pass to critique Turkey for this kind of abuse and breach BECAUSE nothing of the kind occurred in the US or the West?” and you don’t think it is convoluted?
     
    OK. If you say so.

    I don’t share your perspective

    That’s a given.

    so I don’t ask the question you prefer is asked.

    Naturally, you don’t have to.
     
    I can only hope you have some other way of being fair.

  23. Jenny, I’ll link an article that plays the women angle from Bianet.
    .
    I cannot vouch for the veracity of the stuff he says about what happened in Maras in ’78 except to confirm that we did hear this in Istanbul (and you may have heard it in Ankara if you were there). I do think Turkey and Turkish law enforcement are far more ‘civilized’ now of course, but given the players who are still around and their past, perhaps the kind of stuff that article alludes to would be worth keeping in mind.
    .
    I don’t wish to take a patronizing tone but you’ve given us no indication (at least here) that you know/remember enough to understand why commenters here don’t find the rhetoric emanating from the some of the cemaat people and AKP about the coup of ’80 credible. Perhaps — even though the author is probably not anywhere close in his thinking and political views to many of the regulars here and certainly not me — the allusions/implications in the article below would help understand the basis of the concerns: http://www.bianet.org/bianet/diger/126475-cemaatin-medyasi-polisini-sahipsiz-birakmaz

  24. BM,

    No, but I didn’t look either. I was thinking other papers would check perhaps, before they put it in.

    Here, finally an independent and sufficiently credible source.
     
    On the one hand, it is more or less obvious that she would have an abortion anyway, it is no excuse for police britality.
     
    I whole heartedly agree with that.
     
    Yet, it seems all this publicty is likely to be more detrimental to her than that miscariage –which, the doctors aren’t sure whether it was due to police beating (doctors say she has no bruises) or some other (natural?) cause–; it seems she is going to have issues to sort out with her own family about the whole pregnancy affair.
     
    Anyway
     
    Now, from you BiaNet link:

    Geçen cumartesi günü üniversite rektörleri kendilerine ulasan ferman dogrultusunda Dolmabahçe’deki basbakanlik çalisma ofisinde toplandilar. Baskanlik Rejimi ön hazirliklari diyebilecegimiz bu tür toplantilarla bütün erkler tek elde toplanmaya çalisilir.

    This bit is scary.
     
    The reason I find it all scary isn’t due to the fact/likelihood that the presidential system is imminent.
     
    There’s something scarier than that: Students are being used as spearheads for political issues that are much bigger than those pertaining to students.
     
    IOW, some political force is –it seems– mobilizing the students to a front to fight against the onset of presidential system.
     
    This, IMO, is pretty much like going back to 70s.
     
    Seeing this, I am not sure which side I should stand.

  25. I am sorry about the missing link in the above post of mine.
    .
    For some reason, the blog software kept eating up my post when this link was in it.
    .
    You’ll have to google for “Sizin ‘istikrarınız’! Onun bebeği!” to find it.

  26. CA, [Jenny] here, more about that girl in English: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=police-violence-results-in-death-of-unborn-2010-12-08

  27. CA,
    .
    There’s something scarier than that: Students are being used as spearheads for political issues that are much bigger than those pertaining to students.
    .
    Isn’t this often true for young people ending up in such situations? Remember the 19 year old Furkan?

  28. BM,

    Isn’t this often true for young people ending up in such situations? Remember the 19 year old Furkan?

    .
    Not quite. Not from where I am looking at it, anyway.
    .
    Mavi Marmara was never likely to turn into a mass movement. Plus, it carried a very good mixture of people –all ages, all walks of life, all sorts of people.
    .
    Here, in this case, we’re talking about university students.
    .
    It has, if not handled properly, potential of reaching unimaginable numbers in no time and turn in to an explosive crowd on a mindless/pointless motive.

  29. CA,
    .
    It has, if not handled properly, potential of reaching unimaginable numbers in no time and turn in to an explosive crowd on a mindless/pointless motive.
    .
    I don’t think so. I have been worrying about this especially since ’07 when I noticed, for no good reason I could see, DISK started making a big deal about Taksim on MayDay. They couldn’t get the crowds though. The only time the ‘left’ could organize large crowds was when Dink was killed. (This is for Istanbul). Things can get worse if there’s bloodshed but we seem far from that point. I’d worry far more if PKK hit the streets in W. Turkey.
    .
    AKP isn’t dumb, and I am happy they are not, because if they did indeed escalate this (eg by taking this opportunity to make more arrests) things may spiral out of realm of sanity. BTW, I’ve never really understood why Demirel’s ‘yollar yurumekle asinmaz’ quip against the demonstrations in the pre-’71 period was seen as a bad thing to say. It seems like somebody needs to say ‘Turk tavugu caliskandir, yumurtasiz kalmayiz’ or something like that now..

  30. I don’t think so. I have been worrying about this especially since ’07 when I noticed, for no good reason I could see, DISK started making a big deal about Taksim on MayDay. They couldn’t get the crowds though.

     
    Yes.. that turned out to be a flop.. Apparently, class struggle cannot work when a number of strong forces work to fragment it.
     

    The only time the ‘left’ could organize large crowds was when Dink was killed. (This is for Istanbul).

     
    That wasn’t much either. WIMI (what I am mean is), it was a flash in the pan; and played nicely into the hands of AKP’s foreign policy.
     

    Things can get worse if there’s bloodshed but we seem far from that point. I’d worry far more if PKK hit the streets in W. Turkey.

     
    I am beginning to doubt that too. Taking to streets in W TR isn’t likely to bring much success. It may create a period of violence and even bloodshed but in a short span of time it would be obvious that that sort of thing is more detrimental (politically and/or otherwise) to PKK (and supporters) than anyone else.
     

    AKP isn’t dumb, and I am happy they are not, because if they did indeed escalate this (eg by taking this opportunity to make more arrests) things may spiral out of realm of sanity.

     
    Yes. But, the danger/risk is still there. For, students are probably the only group in society that does not need (I am referring to the mobs here) a common class to get together. Frustration, such as from worries of not being able to find work after graduation, can be used to get them together. And, once they are together, it feed on anything.
     
    But, yes –again–, I think AKP will be able to contain this too. The fact that living memory (of 70s) will serve to help them will be another bonus.
     

    BTW, I’ve never really understood why Demirel’s ‘yollar yurumekle asinmaz’ quip against the demonstrations in the pre-’71 period was seen as a bad thing to say. It seems like somebody needs to say ‘Turk tavugu caliskandir, yumurtasiz kalmayiz’ or something like that now..

     
    I’d say a better motto/slogan would be “Yumurta yiyen akillanir“.

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