Schloss Wartin or How to #FixEurope with European Alternatives

Activists and intellectual young people from across Europe from all directions gathered in the heart of Europe, at a centuries old castle near Berlin, at Schloss Wartin. European Alternatives that has organized the meeting has set up the agenda to discuss problems that Europe faces and find possible “solutions” that might bring about a better future for all of us. We have shared, we have learned, we have explored and most importantly elaborated all kinds of matters that Europe is facing today.

Dozens of people gathering around a table of vegetarian grill raised their glasses for a better future in the hopes of a more complete Europe. People seem eager to discuss matters that they think are vital for the future of the continent, and suddenly it became all of a sudden much easier to solve any problem the old continent might have. Once the path to discussion and dialogue is opened, rational people would be able to find a way to come over whatever is bothering the whole area, and be able to give an answer to those who claim that there would never be any answer.

When participants were asked to simply note down the things they think needs fixing in Europe, the list just went on and on. The list was getting almost as long as the history of the castle. This is not to discourage any Europhile in fact. It is a mere opportunity to see what happens when there is a very unilateral understanding of integration and European unification plan.

Our delightful host’s food is served in the main hall, impatiently waiting while enjoying the tunes of the piano, one would wonder how many new ideas are popping up in everyone’s head at that moment. Every single minute is inspirational, among all the creative and impressive people in a calm and quiet atmosphere in the lack of internet connection. Ideas actually get jotted down and new ones spread around on tables, faster than the circulation of food I must say.

Issues that swept from attention get brought up to agenda, and the things that people did not maybe pay enough attention to previously. This time we can spare all the time in the world for a few days, as there is no wifi zone to bring us the distractive “unread 666 messages”. Glasses and bottles cling, new ideas keep popping up right in the middle of sounds of nature. Peace and tranquility surround the activists, giving them the much-needed peace. In the darkness and cold of the night, old project get talked of, bringing about new project proposals already.

Premiere of the Transeuropa Caravan took place at the castle with the participation of all the activists in the campus. No need to add that it was inspirational as all other events; revealing certain local problems that parts of Europe experience and most other parts would not even hear if it was not for such initiatives to bring Europe closer to all citizens.

We gathered in Berlin with one big aim, to target and tackle problems of Europe in general. We left the Schloss Wartin with thousands of new ideas and a lot of inspiration and motivation to get to work. The ending of the campus was a joyful ride back to Berlin city center, where we had the chance to attend a conference at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, which opened with a keynote speech by Saskia Sassen. She talked about all the crisis moments that we can see very clearly all around, especially the housing bubble and gentrification tactics in most major cities. Sustainability has become one of the primary topics for us all.

After all the talks and discussions, we the activist of European Alternatives at #FixEurope campus meeting, can agree to the slogans of the streets “this is yet the beginning…”

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Armenian-Turkish Youth at Closed Borders Open Minds Meeting

Armenian and Turkish youth has got together in Istanbul for the second phase of the project titled “Closed Borders Open Minds” after the first one in Yerevan May, 2014. This has been my second participation in an Armenian-Turkish project and there has been a few Armenian participants who have attended the first part as well. The Regional Studies Center has been carrying out this project as part of a consortium, funded by the European Union, for normalization between the two countries and I remember the exact words of one of the coordinators, Haykak Arshamyan back in Yerevan: “At the end of the day what matters most is the friendships that emerge out of such projects”. And that is exactly what seems to have happened.

Throughout the project trainings and free time social activities, I can not help but compare this initiative to several other cross-border cooperation projects I have been part of with young people from Greece and Bulgaria. I happen to remember some of the trainings from that period too, but most of what I remember is the person-to-person interaction that we have experienced and the friendships that were forged in those days. Similarly, this time with the Armenian young people, same thing has been happening.

Compared to the first phase of the projects there are a few things I can see being different. Back in Yerevan we were staying at a hotel not at the city center but about 10km outside, which required taxi transportation for 15 minutes and speaking no Armenian, some locals’ guidance for us every time we wanted to go to the center. Here in Istanbul, we were staying at the very heart of the city, right next to the famous Gezi Park, in Taksim. This meant that anyone could stroll around freely and being in one of the most cosmopolitan places in the world, it meant that one can even melt in crowds easily by herself without the help of any locals. In my opinion the interaction between locals and visitors helps creating bonds and contributes to the success of project goals.

A second significant difference between Yerevan and Istanbul was that this time there has been more personal gossip between participants compared to the first time, especially the ones that had already been together previously. This, in my opinion, is also a plus in the calculations as it means that we are not focusing on the national, political, top-down problematic situations but more on human interaction. Out of the social time we spent, there emerged more personal discussions first elaborating issues on individual level and later being flooded by ideas and inspiration, being creatively dedicated to future collaborations.

For me personally it seems like the actual success of this program will not be when (if) politicians and diplomat from both sides take their seats down on two sides of a table, but when we keep meeting and be able to have tea together in whatever country we may be. It is inspiring to see the young people’s interest in the normalization process and so many applications to be part of this project. As long as there are people willing to further the dialogue with the “other” side, there is always hope for more. Who knows, perhaps Hrant Dink’s foresight regarding the normalization.

In my opinion, the free time we got all together was the most productive part of the week. We have been to several places. Some places had been playing Armenian music and some playing shared tunes in both cultures. This seemed to surprise some of our guests as there was expectations of less inclusive social culture perhaps. Another surprising moment we had noted was the citation of Armenian architects that worked at the construction of Ottoman palaces in Istanbul, in the recent touristic guidebooks.

One major visit we had as a small group from among the participants was to Bosphorus University where our friends have enjoyed the beautiful view of the campus as well as the history and significance of this campus for Armenia. I am glad to have completed the program with such positive outcomes and raised hopes for future progress. Perhaps time may come to even bring the monument to humanity back some day with the normalization; yet being more realistic, of course we are focusing on the personal level and continue our dedication to the process.

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Possible Imprisonment of Tweeps: Crime of Criticism

Draconian internet laws in Turkey are deepening yet once again with a new reform package that will bring by new measures against freedom of speech in Turkey. Previously, the government has already tried to silence masses through censorship measures, surveillance of netizens, blocking access to web sites, or even raids on online news portals’ headquarters. The most recent “development” on the laws against online free speech is the most recent law draft that foresees upto 5 years of imprisonment for tweeps that criticize the government online.

The signatories of the infamous censorship bill -or as the official name refers to it as 5651: Regulation on the Publications on the Internet- have drafted a new bill and presented to the parliament floor on the evening of October 14th. The new bill will allow all the possible suspects that have so far been declared “traitors, enemies, coup-plotters” to be put on full surveillance target with just an order from a judge. The requirement of “tangible evidence” that has been asked by the courts so far is no longer in the book, which allows the judges to give the order upon “reasonable doubt”. The new law also allows properties of the government-critical suspects to be confiscated, if the accusation is criminal activity or organizing a gang.

What is Criminal?

What consists criminal activity in Turkey has long been a problematic issue and the new bill is no different than any previous one either. The main excuse in suppressing free speech in the country so far has been “worries over national security”. Crimes against the state include plans to end unity and integrity of the state, cooperation with enemy, propagating war against the state, actions against the basic national benefits, conscripting soldiers for a foreign nation, harming military premises and agreements in favor of foreign soldiers, economical and financial contributions to enemies.

If one is to be a little obsessive, in fact any attempt on strengthening of the regional governments and Europeanization process that requires this, can get to be declared as a crime against the state. And the witch hunt trials that have been going after hundreds of military officers over the years would definitely be a type of harm against the military.

Less urgent crimes that have been cited in the bill include violation of the constitution, crime against legislative body, armed uprising against the government, assembling organization for these crimes. Even though armament had been previously mentioned as a crime in another law, this time the new bill seems to reflect more onto the protection of government against all types of possible criticism. And, obviously the government would be exempt from the crimes of violating constitution when citizens’ basic rights and liberties are being violated, even though they are guaranteed under the constitution.

Social Media on Target

Threat as a crime is considered to be a much greater fault with the new law and will be punishable by prison sentence. The new bill suggests that the citizens that criticize government harshly on social media platforms are included within the scope of threatening-crime. According to the current laws, threats bring about imprisonment only for the crimes that face two years and more of prison sentence. For that reason, the government has updated the prison sentence to two years minimum. The new bill also includes clauses that state that those who criticize the president, prime minister, ministers or the security forces openly or over social media will be considered under the crime of threatening and face possible arrest. The new bill also is targeting the prosecutor who has run the graft probe of 17/25 December last year that revealed the greatest corruption scandal in the history.

Not only Internet but also Streets…

The new bill’s scope is not limited to digital public spaces but also makes opposition movements’ visibility on streets problematic. The slogans that have been adopted by critical groups on street protests had already drawn many frowning faces so far, and with the new bill they will be considered a crime. New law also breaches the diplomatic immunity of politicians, allowing them to be put on trial as well, in case of threats against public-officers, soldiers, police, governors etc. The prison sentence will possibly go upto 5 years depending on the intensity of the “criminal activity”.

Right to No Defense

Moreover, the new bill also harms the right to audience and defense principle. The lawyers will have harder time to reach their clients’ files and defend them fairly. The bill states that the lawyers’ involvement in bringing the accused’s files to visibility would breach the investigation thus should be limited upon the request of judge’s orders.

Reversal of Improvement

The draft bill will be reversing the improvements that have been achieved in the last year with regards to legal procedure, and the few positive remarks in the European Union accession progress report are being met with counter-develeopments that will present a much graver situation in the coming period. Combined with the intentions to arm the police forces with greater authority to “shoot to kill” in times of protests and plans to multiply the number of water cannons by five/ten fold as the prime minister has stated, the new bill is just another obstacle created against any kind of free speech, right to assembly, right to access information and many other rights and liberties. It seems and feels like the road to illiberal democracy -if that’s democratic at all- proceeds faster than expected.

 

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6 Cities under Curfew, More Than Dozen Killed in Turkey

The Kobane in Syria’s Kurdish region has been resisting against ISIS for days and in the last days situation has been worsening due to ISIS advances. Civilians have been fleeing and taking refuge in Turkey, hundreds of thousands have been walking to Turkish border, leaving everything behind. Across Turkey, there have been solidarity-meetings with the participation of several political parties and civil society organizations. These rallies were being organized mainly by the Kurdish party HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party). Rallies turned into protests and then turned violent. Eventual result so far is declaration of curfew in 6 cities and -up until now- over 15 got killed.

The New Turkey

Before the August 10 Presidential election when Turkey voted on her president for the first time in history, the promise of President Erdoğan was “the New Turkey” where peace process would finally start blooming and fruiting to bring peaceful end to “Kurdish Question”, democratic rights would be granted and economic expansion would prevail. Looking at the first 50 days of New Turkey, one would not really see anything new really, except for a few new methods in violation of rights and liberties.

The New Turkey was going to be one free from military presence on its streets; as the president had said “military’s duty is at the borders, to protect the country against external enemies”, however not only did the police forces get militarized, but also tanks are strolling in the streets of several cities and even in Istanbul military gendarmarie forces are mobilizing in order to prevent any kind of solidarity protest for Kobane. To be fair, protesters are under bigger threat from anti-protestor mobs attacking with guns and police obviously has proven ineffective in preventing civilians exchange gun shots.

Istanbul’s Esenyurt District

Border lock-down

When ISIS started offensive against Kobane, people used their right to defend themselves and resist against a possibly massacre. Yet, many people had to flee from the region and run away from the marching IS gangs. In September, hundreds of thousands of people were mobilized. For over a week, Turkey did not allow the border to be crossed. Protests had started taking place back then. As there was no permission to let civilians in, there emerged protests in major metropolis and especially in the predominantly Kurdish cities. Finally on the 19th of September, Turkey opened the border to allow civilians fleeing from ISIS siege on Kobane to take refuge.

Permission to intervene

A week after the border was opened for controlled passes, there came the discussion to allow Turkish military to intervene in the situation; at which stage the street-spirit changed form and turned into anti-war protests. On October 2nd, Turkish parliament voted on the permission to allow Turkish soldiers to intervene in Iraq and Syria against ISIS. By then the HDP refused to vote yes on the permission, alongside the Republican People’s Party CHP.

The irony in the permission is that currently the sides seem to have changed. When HDP organizes anti-ISIS protests and CHP silently seems to be approving of them, the Nationalist Movement Party MHP and ruling AKP have taken a stand against them, even though the latter two were the ones to approve of ground-forces military action against ISIS gangs.

Night of Clashes

The night of October 7 saw a long night of drifting back to darkness of 1980s and 1990s. Protests against ISIS started turning violent. There started emerging images and videos of cars and buildings being set on fire, Turkish flags being burned and Ataturk busts being torn down. However these images simultaneously appearing on media makes one feel like it is being staged; also with the knowledge of prior cases when National Intelligence Agency MIT agents were caught throwing molotov cocktails and provoking protests to turn them violent.

Yet, violent images might have served to a purpose, as several nationalist and islamist radical groups have taken to streets and started shooting at the protesters; especially after a piece of fake news stating that “the protesters are burning Quran on streets”.

Until the shootings it was the police handling the situation badly, and when more sides started clashing, then came curfew declarations and military started marching in to city centers in several cities in the east. This was not officially a declaration of martial law, or even state of emergency. Yet, when tanks are marching on streets, it does not take much to guess what it is, one does not need someone’s definition of the situation.

When anti-ISIS protesters were clashing with police forces on streets, pro-ISIS groups also took to streets and started assaulting on the other side. According to initial reports, around 15 people have been killed. And a dangerous declaration has been set in place today, calling for retaliation on the islamist organizations in Turkey. In the 1990s, Hezbollah in Turkey had been used against the PKK and thousands of people had died in shadowy clashes. This time it started fast and Kurdish groups have declared they will resist.

Turkish minister of interior affairs Efkan Ala also evaluated the protests and the violent surge. Ala declared that any type of violence will be met with multiplied violence. Ala also had the same method against Gezi Park protests in 2013 when he was an adviser of the prime minister on security issues; after which he got appointed as minister without being elected into parliament.

Media Blackout

Turkish media has not surprised anyone yet again. When clashes were unraveling, curfew was being declared in half a dozen cities and number of deaths were climbing amid widespread protests and counter-protester violent attacks, Turkish TV channels were broadcasting entertainment shows, very much in line with the penguin patterns they have been carrying out during times of crises.

When there was protests in Egypt, Turkish television channels were broadcasting live from across Egypt; when there happened a coup, it was broadcasted live in Turkey… Turkish audience is allowed to watch all kinds of crisis situations and repression of rights live on TV as long as it does not happen in Turkey.

If anything was shown, this was portraying all the protests and protesters as “terrorists” that targeted Turkish national unity and sovereignty; yet failed to raise the question why would anyone demanding the intervention of Turkish troops against ISIS, attack Turkish nation. And, second question, how come police always manages to get hold of the people that shout slogans and fail to find the ones that carry out such attacks. Media definitely is being used for fueling the fire against Kobane-solidarity protests, serving as a tool of consent manufacturing. Given the number of internet-literate people who critically gets the news from social media, the media blackout seems to work in favor of the ones who are benefitting from violence on streets of Turkey.

Chaos Lobby

While Turkish government explained everything previously with ….. lobby, the most recent uprisings in Turkey have been blamed on “Chaos Lobby”. All state officials, ministers who appear on TV put the blame on a shady non-existent organization that they call chaos lobby, probably an advanced version of the interest-rate lobby, terror lobby, social media lobby, porn lobby, judiciary lobby, marginal lobby, parallel lobby…

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Bulgaristan’da Seçim ve Aşırı Sağın Durumu

Seçmenlerin siyasi partilerden hiçbirini tercih etmek istemediği bir ortamda, sistem karşıtı ve köklü değişimler iddiasında olan bir ATAKA, Bulgaristan’daki siyasi ahlak krizinden en çok faydalanan siyasi oluşum olmuştu.

(Orjinali Bianet’te)

 

Aşırı sağ ATAKA hükümet koalisyonuna dahil olmadan önce aldığı halk desteğini asla bir araya gelmeyeceğini iddia ettiği kişilerle birlikte hareket edince kaybetti. Fakat aşırı sağ görüşler karizmatik lider Volen Siderov’un partisiyle birlikte erimiyor, yeni sağ partiler çıkışta.

Gazetenin Sağ Köşesi: Siderov

Bulgaristan’da siyasi yaşamın partiler değişse bile ülkedeki siyasi kültürde sıradanlaşmış yolsuzluklar zincirinde sürmesine bir tepki olarak ortaya çıkan bir gazeteciydi Volen Siderov. Fotoğrafçı, gazeteci, editör ve yazar kimlikleriyle toplumsal yaşamda yükselen Siderov komünizmin çökmesi ve Thodor Zhivkov’un yönetiminin bitmesi ardından demokrasi hareketlerinde yer almış, insan haklarını ön plana çıkaran hareketlere dahil olmuştu.

2003 yılında Sofya valiliği adaylığını açıklayarak seçimlere katılsa da, yüzde 0.4’lük oy oranıyla aday olarak tanınırlığını dahi gösteremedi. Fakat sınırlı çevresinin çeperlerini kırarak ününü artırması “Hücum” manasına gelen “Ataka” adlı bir televizyon programında ülkedeki yolsuzlukları ifşa etmesiyle oldu. Gazeteciliğin tüm olanaklarını kullanarak yolsuzluğa bulaşan siyasileri Bulgaristan toplumuna gösterip “sizin iradenizi kullanarak ülkeyi soyanlar işte bunlar” diyordu.

Televizyon programında eleştirdiği yolsuzluklar ve hukuksuzlukları anlatırken, Bulgaristan’da yaşayan Türklerin yoğun olarak oy verdiği Haklar ve Özgürlükler Hareketi DPS’li bakanlara karşı olan tutumunu bütün bir Türk toplumuna yayarak aşırı sağ bir duruşun belirtilerini veriyordu.

Bulgaristan ekonomisinin ve kalkınma planlarının önünde bir duvar gibi yükselen yolsuzlukları eleştirmenin getirdiği özgüven, aşırı sağ bir duruş ve popülizmle birleşince aktif siyasete atılan Volen Siderov, 2006 yılında cumhurbaşkanlığı adaylığını açıkladı ve birinci turda yüzde 20’yi geçerken, ikinci turda yüzde 24 oy aldı. Ataka ise 2007 yılında girdiği ilk seçimlerde yüzde 8’in üzerinde oy aldı ve meclisteki dördüncü büyük parti oldu. Avrupa Parlamentosuna üç vekil gönderen Ataka’ya olan destek gitgide artarken 2009 yılında oy oranını yüzde 9.4’e getirdi.

Front National benzerliği

Cumhurbaşkanlığı seçimlerindeki oy stratejisi dolayısıyla sıklıkla Fransadaki aşırı sağ lider Le Pen’in aday olduğu 2000 seçimleriyle kıyaslanan Siderov, Ataka’daki kariyerini Front National’den çok tekin olmasa bile daha hızlı bir adımla sürdürerek “Bulgaristan’ın Avrupai Kalkınması için Yurttaşlar”ın (GERB) uzun süre yürüttüğü tek parti iktidarına karşı 2013 yılında büyük koalisyona girerek hükümet ortağı oldu. Bu koalisyonda asla yanyana gelmeyeceğini söylediği Bulgaristan Sosyalist Partisi yöneticileri ve her fırsatta nefretini dile getirdiği Türklerle birlikte hareket eden Ataka, GERB’i Bulgaristan için var olan en büyük tehlike ilan etmişti.

Genel olarak Avrupa Birliği, NATO ve küreselleşme karşıtlığı üzerine kurulu bir gündeme sahip olan Ataka, ülkedeki azınlıklara karşı nefret söylemi ve şiddete meyledebilecek eylemleri de ilke edinmiş gibi kullanıyor. Bu gündemle birlikte “Kimlik, Gelenek, Egemenlik” grubuna dahil olan Ataka milletvekilleri, Avrupa Parlamentosunda bu kısa ömürlü grubun en sert savunucularından birileriydi.

Koltuk kazanınca gündem değişiyor

Aşırı sağ partilerin çok sert bir muhalefet çizgileri bulunuyor. ATAKA’da Avrupa’daki diğer örneklerle genellikle birlikte hareket ediyor ya da oradaki deneyimlerden öğrenerek kendi yöntemlerini belirliyor. Fakat, Avrupa’nın çoğu ülkesinde gerçekleşmeyen bir fark Bulgaristan’da hayata geçip Ataka hükümet ortağı olduğunda, verilen vaatlerin tutulmadığını gören seçmenler için durum değişti. Ülkenin menfaati için en büyük tehlike olarak neoliberal gündemi gerçekleştiren ve ATAKA’nın deyimiyle “modern sömürgeciliği getiren” GERB’in sunulması ve daha öncesinde yerden yere vurulan partilerle bir koalisyona girilme ihtimali ile gerçekleştirilen Mayıs 2013 seçimlerinde oy oranı yüzde 7’ye inmesine rağmen ATAKA Meclis’teki sandalye sayısını artırmış ve temsiliyetini yüzde 10’a çıkarmıştı. Önceki yıllarda partiye destek yüzde 16’ya kadar çıkmış olmasına rağmen, parti gündemine aykırı eylemler seçmenleri diğer alternatiflere yöneltmiş görünüyor. Bunda tabii ki Bulgaristan siyasi yaşamına yeni doğmuş olan üç tane daha popülist partinin varlığı da etkili oldu.

Gezi Parkı protestolarıyla birlikte başlayan, “DANSwithMe” hashtag’iyle yaygınlaşan işgal hareketi meclis binasını bir yıldır işgal altında tutuyordu ve seçimlerin üzerinden geçen bir senenin ardından yapılan Avrupa Parlamentosu seçimlerinde ATAKA’nın oy oranı yüzde 2’ye kadar geriledi. Avrupa Parlemantosu seçimleri sonrası koalisyon ortaklarına olan desteğin eridiği görülünce hükümet istifa etmek zorunda kaldı ve erken seçimler ilan edildi. Geçici hükümet şu an için GERB ve BSP iktidarına hazırlarken ülkeyi, ATAKA’nın ise emaresi bile okunmuyor.

Siyasi ahlak kriziyle büyüdü, sisteme dahil olup eridi

Seçimlere katılımın genellikle yüzde 50’nin altında kaldığı, seçmenlerin var olan siyasi partilerden hiçbirini tercih etmek istemediği bir ortamda, sistem karşıtı ve köklü değişimler iddiasında olan bir ATAKA Bulgaristan’daki siyasi ahlak krizinden en çok faydalanan siyasi oluşum olmuştu. Fakat sisteme dahil olmasıyla birlikte, özellikle de hükümet koalisyonuna katılmasının ardından yıpranan parti bugün varlığını sürdürüp sürdüremeyeceği belli olmadığı bir seçime hazırlanıyor.

Öte yandan, Bulgaristan’da aşırı sağ söylemlerin sonu ATAKA’nın erimesiyle gelmiyor. Yeni siyasi oluşumlara bakılacak olursa bir tane Avrupa bütünleşmesini hedefleyen ve bölgesel kalkınmayı ön plana çıkaran partiye nazaran üç yeni popülist partinin de oylarını artırdığı görülebilir. Var olan merkez partileri kendilerini yenilemedikleri ve daha kitlesel parti içi katılımı teşvik etmedikleri sürece, aşırı sağ partiler oylarını ve oranlarını artırmaya devam edecek gibi görünüyor.

5 Ekim 2014 tarihinde gerçekleşecek erken seçimlerde meclise girmesi beklenmeyen ATAKA yine de hazırlıklarını olabildiğince hızıyla sürdürürken, anketlerin açıkladığı üzere katılımın yüzde 70’leri bulması bekleniyor. Meclise girme ihtimali olan parti sayısı ise dört ile yedi arasında hareketlilik gösteriyor. Meclise yedi partinin girebilme ihtimaline vurgu yapılan anket sonuçlarında, yeni partilerden, BSP’den ayrılan siyasilerin oluşturduğu Bulgaristan Dönüşümü için Alternatif (ABV) ve popülist söylemlerle oy oranını artıran Reform Bloğu, Yurtsever Cephe ve Sansürsüz Bulgaristan bulunuyor.

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Bulgaristan’da Yine Erken Seçim

Bulgaristan’da Gezi Parkı direnişiye yaklaşık aynı dönemde başlayan halk hareketi sonrası ikinci kez erken seçime gidiliyor.

(Orjinali Bianet’te)

 

Siyasi krizin sürdüğü Bulgaristan, son iki yılda ikinci kez erken genel seçime gidiyor. Seçim 5 Ekim 2014 Pazar günü yapılacak.

Bulgaristan Sosyalist Partisi (BSP) ve üyelerinin çoğunluğunu Türklerin oluşturduğu Hak ve Özgürlükler Hareketi (HÖH) partisinin oluşturuduğu koalisyonunla kurulan 89. Hükümet, sadece bir yıl iktidarda kalabildi.

Bulgaristan’da bir yıllık toplumsal hareket ve işgal eylemleri ardından büyük koalisyon hükümeti, 23 Temmuz 2014 günü erken seçim kararını açıklayarak istifa etmişti.

Sokaklarda öğrencilerin protestolarında polisin öğrencilere sert müdahalesiyle itibarı sarsılarak 2 Şubat 2013’te istifa eden Boyko Borissov’un ardından “Bulgaristan’ın Avrupai Kalkınması için Yurttaşlar” Partisi GERB’in tek başına iktidarı sona ermiş ve 2013 Mayıs ayında erken seçime gidilmişti. Seçim takviminin açıklandığı Şubat ayından itibaren sokaklar sakinleşirken, mecliste bulunan dört partiden GERB hariç diğer üçünün (Bulgaristan Sosyalist Partisi, Haklar ve Özgürlükler Hareketi, ATAKA) zorlu bir koalisyona gitmesi üzerine siyasi arenada gergin bir ortam oluşmuş ve hükümet, görevdeki birinci ayını dolduramadan meclisin önündeki meydan işgal edilmişti.

Türkiye’de Gezi Parkı protestolarıyla neredeyse eşzamanlı olarak başlayan işgal hareketi aradan geçen bir yılda dinamizmini kaybetmeden sürekliliğini sağladı ve hükümet istifa ederek erken seçim kararı aldı. Haziran 2013’te, Bulgaristan gizli servisi olan Ulusal Güvenlikten Sorumlu Müdürlük (DANS) pozisyonuna yapılan atamalarda bir işadamı ve milletvekili olan Delyan Peevski’nin adının direktör pozisyonu için anılmasıyla birlikte yolsuzluk karşıtı gösteriler başlamış ve kısa sürede bir işgal hareketine dönüşmüştü. Yeni hükümetin, devletin eski geleneklerini devam ettirme niyetinde olduğu iddiasındaki kişiler DANS atamasının iptalini ve hükümetin istifasını talep ettiler.

Meclis DANS işgalinde

DANSetBenle hashtagiyle çevrimiçi paylaşımlarla kitle gitgide kalabalığını artırırken, bir önceki kıştan kalma öğrenci hareketini toplumsal bir harekete yaymayı başardı. Hergün onbinlerce kişi 18:30’da meclis binasının çevresine akın ederken, polis müdahalesi olmaması dikkat çekiciydi. Bir sene boyunca zaman zaman artarak ve azalarak kalabalık varlığını sürdürdü ve nihayetinde merkez sağa karşı oluşturulan büyük koalisyonun daha fazla dayanamayacağı noktaya kadar geldi.

Koalisyon ortaklarından aşırı sağ ATAKA asla bir araya gelmeyeceğini vaadettiği partiler ve siyasilerle koalisyona girerek kendi tabanını kaybetti, Bir önceki hükümet döneminden çıkarımlar elde etmemiş bir sosyalist parti, siyasetteki eski yolsuzluk geleneğini sürdürebileceğinin sinyallerini vererek toplumdaki hoşnutsuzluğu körükledi. Ve “Türk Partisi” olarak da bilinen DPS de parti içi demokrasi geleneğinin oturmaması ve lider ne kadar değişmiş olsa da parti içindeki kilit isimlerin aynı kalmasıyla birlikte değişim iddialarının altını dolduramadı.

Öte yandan, ilk çıkış iddiası yolsuzluk ve yoksullukla mücadele olan GERB’in iktidarda kaldığı süre boyunca gelişim ve iyileşmeden ziyade zümre değişimi gerçekleştirmesinden dolayı, her ne kadar partiye olan destek halen ülkedeki en yüksek olsa da GERB’i iktidara taşıyacak oranı bulamıyor. Geçtiğimiz yıl yapılan seçimlerde GERB meclis içerisindeki en büyük grup olmasına rağmen, diğer tüm partiler tarafından yalnız bırakılınca “tek başına muhalefet” olmak zorunda kalmıştı. Haftasonu yapılacak erken seçimlerde yine en yüksek oy oranını alması beklenen parti için koalisyon yine tek çıkış yolu olsa da de pek mümkün görünmüyor.

Sağ partilerin çıkışı

GERB’in tek başına iktidara gelmesinin imkansız göründüğü anketlerde, yeni yükselen sağ partilerin oy oranları çıkışta görünüyor. Meclise girmesi kesin gözüyle bakılan Sansürsüz Bulgaristan, Reform Bloğu, Yurtsever Cephe partilerinin yanı sıra Bulgaristan’a Alternatif ve daha önce de meclise girmiş olan aşırı sağ ATAKA’nın da yüzde dörtlük barajı geçebileceği öngörülüyor.

Daha önceki seçimlerde her defasında git gide düşen seçime katılım oranları, bu seçimde de geçtiğimiz yıla göre düşecek gibi görünüyor. Beklentiler bu erken genel seçimlerde de katılımın yarıdan az kalması yönünde. Katılım oranları düştükçe, daha fazla parti ideolojik bağlarına sadık olan merkezden çok öte olan sağ partilerin oy rakamları yükselmese de oranları seçim sonuçlarında artıyor.

Bir önceki erken genel seçimlerde GERB karşıtı koalisyonda yer alan ATAKA’nın oylarının erimesiyle katılımını artıran diğer sağ partilerden ikisinin GERB ile koalisyona girme ihtimali de şimdiden yükseliyor. Geçtiğimiz yıl Borisov’un “ne olursa olsun ATAKA koalisyona alınmamalı, gerekirse ben tek başıma güvenoyu verilmesine katkı verirdim” şeklindeki açıklamalarının ardından, yapılacak erken genel seçimler sonucu aşırı sağ görüşlü siyaseti ne kadar kabul edeceği merak konusu.

Partilerin oy oranları ne olacak?

Alpha Araştırma Merkezi daha önceki seçim sonuçlarına dair oldukça yakın tahminlerde bulunmuş ve güvenilir bir kaynak olduğunu kanıtlamıştı. Seçimlerden bir hafta öncesinde yaptığı araştırmanın ardından GERB için yüzde 34 oy oranı öngörülüyor, ve bu da meclis içinde 98-100 vekil anlamına geliyor. BSP’nin oy oranı yüzde 19,1 ve vekil sayısı 53-55, Türk partisi DPS yüzde 15,4 ve 44-46 vekil ile üçüncü parti olarak mecliste yer almaya devam edecek görünüyor. Daha önce yüzde 11 oy oranı alan ATAKA dördüncü parti pozisyonunu yeni yükselen Reform Bloğu ve Sansürsüz Bulgaristan’a bırakmış gibi görünüyor. Bu iki partinin de oy oranları yüzde 6 ve bu da 16-18 vekil anlamına geliyor. Meclise girmesi muhtemel bir diğer parti ise yine sağdan Yurtsever Cephe, oy oranı yüzde 4,2 ve mecliste 12 sandalye alması mümkün.

Seçimlerin sonucunda meclis içinde oldukça renkli bir atmosfer oluşacağa benzer; fakat en dikkat çekici nokta son seçimlerin üzerinden geçen bir yıl boyunca toplumsal refah seviyesinin bir türlü yukarıya doğru bir ivme kazanamamış ve yaşamdan memnuniyet anketlerinde bir yükseliş kaydedilememiş olması. Hükümet yorgunu partilerin hiçbirinin kendilerini gerçek manasıyla yenilememesi, Bulgaristan’ın yerel sorunlarına -özellikle de demografik erimeye- hitap etmeden, çözüm önermeden birbirlerini yıpratmaya dayalı söylemler geliştirmesi de şu an için siyasi dönüşüme yardımcı olmuyor.

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Constitutional Court Cancels Censorship & Surveillance Bill in Turkey

Right after the graft probe against the AKP government started and phone conversations of alleged corruption of ministers and by then prime minister Erdoğan and their family members were leaked on the internet with unknown sources, government drafted a censorship update on the already draconian internet regulations law, 5651. The update came as a shock when many people thought “they can not possibly take this any further”. The updated version of the bill suggested that the telecommunications authority (TIB) would store all traffic data as to which websites a user browses and how long time is passed, as well as the right to block access to a website in four hours after the complaint is filed, without court order. Constitutional Court of Turkey has ruled that this is unconstitutional and the law update is now cancelled stripping the TIB and secret service, national intelligence agency (MIT) of its unjust authority to carry out unlimited and unwarranted surveillance and censorship.

Ministers come in defense of censorship and surveillance

Right after the constitutional court declared the censorship, surveillance and profiling law is a violation of rights, government ministers came forward to cite the national security risks of not carrying out mass-surveillance of citizens. Minister of Interior Efkan Ala reacted against the court decision stating that the government keeps balance of security and freedom and has to keep in mind that national security is at stake, thus defending censorship and surveillance. Minister of communications Lutfi Elvan also named his reaction to court decision claiming that the bill as it was did not constitute censorship but was seeking national security on the internet where cyber-crimes prevailed through digital publications. Minister Elvan also stated “European countries also keep personal data between 6 months and 2 years in a central location, and there is public guarantee that these data would not be used for purposes other than security and would not be shared with non-state organs.”

Protests worked

When the censorship and surveillance bill was first passed and was awaiting President Gül’s approval, there were campaigns against it and street protests were organized with the participation of dozens of thousands of people. Internetophiles declared that they do not recognize this censorship and called this the death of internet. Opposition parties also protested against this violation of free speech and right to acquire information, thus had applied to constitutional court for cancellation. All the reactions seem to have worked well.

Illegal Eavesdropping on Ministers

Minister Elvan proposed that TIB is responsible for the wiretapping scandal that revealed the biggest governmental corruption in history. Even though the ministers use phone devices that are encrypted by the national intelligence agency and TIB would have to go through weeks/months of processing to break the encryption, it is TIB that took the hit in this leakage.

Not long after the scandal became public, the intention to dissolve TIB and give all its authority to MIT and to centralize all surveillance mechanisms was brought to agenda. By then Prime Minister, Erdoğan had said “MIT is already responsible for such actions as we give to TIB, why have two bodies doing the same thing.” and paved the way to creation of digital gestapo in the country.

Currently, TIB is keeping track of all telecommunications data in the country, without the possibility of deletion of cached information. So, all the calling and messaging data between all users in Turkey are available; or better put it as “was” available until TIB got raided and servers were confiscated for investigation by MIT.

I am increasingly against the Internet every day”

Internet is still seen as a destructive device by Turkish authorities. Previously it was “waste of time” and then social media was declared as “menace to society”… Now, President Erdoğan has a new statement that brought many reactions from the internetophiles; “I am increasingly against the Internet every day.” In many occasions he has stated his concern over use of freedoms, although it is usually the freedom of his opponents that he is concerned about. As long as all critical and opposition voices are under extreme pressure in Turkey, there would not be any concern over freedoms and liberties. Perhaps this has some kind of connection with the First Lady Emine Erdoğan’s speech at anti-addiction week, claiming that internet is as dangerous as drug abuse.

The low understanding of freedoms and liberties continue to be the most obvious problem in Turkey, which according to government supporters is doing a great job suppressing critical voices for the sake of economical development and triumph of “national will” over citizens.

As might be remembered, in recent days critical newsportals have been raided by police and were asked to remove articles criticizing the government, or else they would be blocked access to. At a meeting with a joint delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Press Institute, President Erdoğan said “Media should never have been given the liberty to insult” regarding the journalists’ approach to developments in Turkey.

Journalists should resist!”

Chairperson of the Constitutional Court Haşim Kılıç is partly responsible for the cancellation of the censorship and surveillance law. He was also one of the people who met the IPI and CPJ delegations, and said “There is an atmosphere of fear at the moment, the journalists must resist against it and not give in. Currently what worries me most is the hate and revenge atmosphere prevailing in the country, the political institutions are responsible for this. This will change with the calming of tensions. There needs to be struggle in basic rights and liberties, thus journalists need to resist as well.”

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Police Raids on Critical Media Newsportals in Turkey

After Gezi Park protests hundreds of journalists lost their jobs, dozens of media portals bowed down to authority and gave in. There were a few courageous journalists who tried to stand up straight and carry out their duty towards public at large. Many of them were subjected to physical attacks, lynching campaigns, digital lynching, reputation-assasination attempts. Yesterday marked a new low in AKP’s approach to press freedom in Turkey. The newspaper that was established by the fired-journalists right after Gezi Protests, Karsi (the Opposed) was raided by policemen.

According to the chief editor of Karsi, the police did not present any court order or mandate to raid the building, or take hold of servers. Police arbitrarily raided the building and shouted to remove news pieces regarding the corruption probe that was leaked to public eye in Turkey between 17-25 December 2013. There was no involvement of courts in this illegal request, the editors demanded the raid to be stopped but the answer was loud and clear: “unless critical news pieces are removed, the whole newsportal will be blocked!”

Today, surprisingly access to Karsi‘s newsportal online was blocked… The portal continues to use a proxy newsportal for now “uncensored news” (sansursuz haber) until it also gets subjected to same treatment.

Another surprise news of the day is that newly established “Gri Hat” (Grey Line) newsportal is also taken to court and blocking access is declared, for potential to distribute critical news material which has published the corruption records on the newsportal. Gri Hat was established not more than a month ago by unemployed/fired journalists and it was going to leak more news pieces regarding all kinds of corruption.

Turkey still scores terribly bad in terms of press freedom with dozens of journalists imprisoned (highest number in the world) and reporters being targeted on a daily basis, shown as target by government officials, subjected to physical attacks and all-so-used-to censorship. When combined with censorship attempts on internet, books, movies and all other news platforms, it is not hard to see the trend’s direction and momentum in the coming days. If alternative/opposed news portals continue getting raided or subjected to threats and give in to such pressure, the future of democracy hangs on spikes in Turkey.

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#OccupyGezi Documentary Subjected to Censorship

 

A documentary film called “Love will Change the Earth” tells the story of resistance against state repression during the Gezi Park protests of June 2013 in Turkey. The director Reyan Tuvi has worked on scenes recorded at the ground-zero in real-time protests and reflected on the multicultural atmosphere in Gezi Park during the uprising, telling the story of different characters who have contributed to the struggle for the sake of life styles that they dream of and to change their destiny.

Yet, when the film was brought before the primary jury and got approved as one of the 15 finalists, it was taken off the shortlist due to legal concerns. The explanation stated that the film violates articles 125 and 299 of Turkish Penal Code.

The quoted articles read as such;

TPC 125:

1) Anyone who undermining the honour, dignity or respectability of another person or who attacks a person’s honour by attributing to them a concrete act or a fact, or by means of an insult shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three months to two years, or punished with a judicial fine. In order to convict for an insult made in the absence of the victim, the act must have been witnessed by at least three persons.

(2) If the act is committed by means of a spoken, written or visual message addressing the victim, the perpetrator shall be sentenced to the penalties set out above.

(3) If the offence of insult is committed:

a) against a public official in connection with their duty;

b) in response to the expression of religious, political, social, philosophical beliefs, thoughts and opinions, in response to an individual’s changing or attempting to propagate their religious, political, social, philosophical beliefs, thoughts and opinions, or in response to an individual’s compliance with the requirements and prohibitions of their religion;

c) by reference to the holy values of a person’s religion, the penalty shall be not less than one year.

(4) (Amended by Law 5377 of 29 June 2005 /Article 15) Where the offence of insult was committed in public, the penalty shall be increased by one sixth.

(5) (Amended by law 5377 of 29 June 2005 /Article 15) In the case of insults to public officials in connection with their efforts working as a committee, the offence shall be deemed to have been committed against all committee members. In such a case, the provisions related to concatenated offences shall be applied.
TPC 299

(1) Anyone who insults the President of the Republic shall be imprisoned for a term of from one to four years.

(2) (Amended by Law 5377 dated 29 June 2005/Article 35) Where the offence is committed in public, the sentence shall be increased by one sixth.

(3) Initiation of a prosecution for this offence shall be subject to authorization by the Minister of Justice.

 

Members of the primary jury also read out a press statement telling public at large that they consider this act of bringing the film under penal code investigation serves for censorship purposes. When even the jury declares this kind of action as censorship, there is not much to be debated on the side of the state representatives.

The primary jury’s statement is as follows:

“As the jury of 51st Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Competition for National Documentary, out of all the lists of films, we have selected 15 films for the finals and notified the festival management. We then came to learn that one of the films have been disqualified for the reason that it violates two clauses of the Turkish Penal Code, articles 125 and 299 with its content.

We, the primary jury, consider this kind of an action as censorship; a film to be disqualified from the shortlist due to its investigation through Turkish Penal Code. Even though we have shared with the festival management that this is unacceptable and we requested the situation to be corrected, these concerns and request have been discarded. We thus declare here that we do not recognize such censorship and neither do we want to be part of it.”

Currently there are still hundreds of thousands of websites, books, films, songs banned in Turkey. And this film about one of the most honorable periods of Turkish history is yet another brick in the wall of censorship. But still, just like we the “internetophiles” had declared when the censorship bill was brought to parliament floor, the primary jury at this film festival also say they do not recognize the censorship.

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Alternatif Nobel Ödülü Snowden’in

ABD’deki dinleme skandalını ortaya çıkaran Edward Snowden, Nobel Komitesi kararını verene kadar Alternatif Nobel olarak da bilinen Doğru Yaşam Ödüllerinden Onur Ödülünün sahibi oldu.

(Ojinali AGOS’ta)

Nobel Barış Ödülü için daha önce Korsan Partilerin aday gösterdiği Edward Snowden, Nobel Komitesi kararını verene kadar Alternatif Nobel olarak da bilinen Doğru Yaşam Ödüllerinden Onur Ödülünün sahibi oldu. Çalıştığı kurum olan Amerikan Ulusal Güvenlik Ajansı NSA’de anayasa ve insan haklarının ihlal edildiği gerekçesiyle, hukuki olmayan uygulamaları ifşa eden Snowden ülkesini terk etmek ve diğer ülkelerden sığınma talep etmek zorunda kalmıştı. Snowden yaptıklarına dair “benim meslek yükümlülüğüm, yurttaşlarımızın anayasal haklarını kullanabilmelerini sağlamaktır, onları ihlal ederek özgürlüklerini kısıtlamak değil” açıklamasında bulunmuştu.

Bir teknoloji uzmanı, eski CIA çalışanı ve NSA’de üstlenici olan Snowden, ABD devletinin yaptığı açıklamalara rağmen kitle-gözetim faaliyetleri yürüttüğü, insan hakları ve uluslararası hukuku ihlal ettiğini keşfettiğinde, bu bilgileri basına açıkladı ve bu da yasal işlemlerle karşılaşmasına neden oldu. Snowden’in yaptıkları küresel anlamda bir etki yaratarak gizlilik, mahremiyet ve gözetim/fişleme mekanizmalarının çokça tartışılmasına sebep oldu. Birçok kişi için Snowden anayasa, haklar ve hürriyetler adına, bunları koruduğunu iddia eden kurumlardan çok daha fazla katkı sağladı.

“Alternatif Nobel”

24 Eylül Çarşamba günü İsveç insan hakları ödüllerinden biri olan ve “Alternatif Nobel” olarak da adlandırılan Doğru Yaşam Ödüllerinden birinin sahibi de Snowden oldu. Gerekçesi gayet açık olan ödülün amacı bireylerin mahremiyetinin ehemmiyeti olduğu da söylenebilir. Verilen ödülü Snowden, Birleşik Krallık’ta Guardian gazetesi editörlerinden Alan Rusbridger ile paylaştı. Rusbridger, Snowden’in sızdırdığı belgeleri temel alarak bir dizi makale yayınlamış ve hükümetlerin gözetim ve fişleme niyetlerine ve uygulamalarına dikkat çekmişti. Gerekçeli kararda Snowden’in “cesaret ve yetenek” kapasitesine vurgu yapılırken, Rusbridger için de sorumlu gazetecilik davranışları ve küresel olarak mahremiyet, gözetim ve fişleme konularında gündem yaratmasından dolayı takdir edildi.

1980 yılında Nobel Ödülünün gözardı ettiği düşünülen konularda bir insane hakları ödülü verilmesi gerektiğini düşünen Jacob von Uexkull Nobel Vakfını gerçekten insnanlığa katkıda bulunmuş kişilere ödül vermeye ve yeni kategorilerde de aday kabul etmeye ikna edemedikten sonra, her yıl verilen Doğru Yaşam Ödüllerini başlatmış ve ödülü alanlara 1.5 milyon İsveç Kronu (~500.000 TL)  verilmeye başlanmıştı. Ödülü verebilmek için oldukça varlıklı bir pul koleksiyoncusu olan von Uexkull koleksiyonunu satmıştı. Ödül “dünyanın siyasi, bilimsel ya da ekonomik elitlerine” değil, bireysel hareket eden ve tabandan yükselen aktivistlere veriliyor.

1 Aralık 2014 tarihinde İsveç’in başkenti Stockholm’de verilecek olan ödüller için, vakfın şu anki direktörü ve ödülü başlatan kişinin yeğeni Ole von Uexkull “ödülü almaya hak kazanan herkesi davet ettik fakat Snowden’in gelip gelemeyeceği henüz net değil. İsveç hükümeti ve Snowden’in avukatlarıyla görüşüp katılımını sağlayabilecek adımlar hakkında görüşmek niyetindeyiz.” açıklamasında bulundu. Onur Ödülü maddi bir getiri sağlamasa bile von Uexkull Snowden’in yasal masrafları için vakfın kaynak ayırabileceğini söylemişti.

Fakat İsveç Dışişleri Bakanlığı için bu ödül sorun olarak görülmüş olacak ki, ödülü alanların açıklanması için ödül komitesinin kullandığı bakanlık basın odası için 1995’ten bu yana verilmiş olan izinler iptal edildi. Ödül alanların bakanlığa bildirilmesinin hemen ardından “güvenlik gerekçesiyle” yirmi yıla yakın süredir sürekli kullanılan basın odasının dış etkinliklere kapatıldığı açıklanmıştı. Von Uexkull bu konuyla ilgili olarak Snowden’in kazanmasıyla bağlantılı olduğunu öne sürdü.

Daha önce Pirate Bay davasının siyasi bir dava olduğu öne sürüldüğünde doğan tepkilerin ardından şimdi de seçim kaybederek ofisi bırakmak zorunda kalan İsveç hükümetinin önümüzdeki günlerde Snowden’e karşı da politik bir tavır tutunmaktak dolayı yeni tepkilerle karşılaşması gayet olası.

Sızıntı Sürgünü

Sızdırdığı bilgiler ABD başta olmak üzere batı dünyası devletlerinin kendilerini gösterdikleri kadar da masum ve insan haklarına saygılı olmadığını gözler önüne serdiğinden bu yana Snowden bir sürgün hayatı yaşıyor. Bugün halen Rusya’da sığınmış olan Snowden gözaltına alınması halinde ABD Casusluk Yasası kapsamında hakim karşısına çıkacak ve 30 yıla kadar hapis cezası istemiyle yargılanacak.

Gözetim ve fişlemeden uzak, açık toplum alanında aktivizm faaliyetlerinde bulunan kişilerden yalnızca biri Snowden. Fakat Wikileaks gibi dünyayı yerinden oynatan bilgileri sızdıran Julian Assange gibi o da sürgün hayatı yaşamak zorunda kalıyor. Önümüzdeki günlerde devletler her ne kadar hukuksuz faaliyetleri dijital kalelerle gizlemeye çalışacak olsa da, bilgi sızıntısı hukuka inanan kişiler olduğu sürece devam edecektir.

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