Turkey is preparing for yet another controversial regulation which will continue suppression of its citizens’ rights and freedoms. The new regulation is to give police the power to detain people without a proper reason, on the premise that the detainee “might carry the risk of conducting a protest.” The detention period is said to vary between 12 to 24 hours, and the police would not need to get a prosecutor’s or judge’s warrant.
While the opposition in the Parliament almost univocally stands against this regulation, the government is able to pass it without any difficulty and legalize the already practiced behavior of policemen towards peaceful protesters with an additional power: preemptive detention. Preemptive detention regulations will be conducted in a joint effort by the Ministries of Justice and Interior. In addition to detention of civilians up to 24 hours without any proper reason, the penalties for resisting arrest and resistance to police forces will also be increased as a deterrent against future protests.
During the OccupyGezi protests amid the controversial Taksim Square regeneration project – which basically foresaw demolition of the last green space at the center of Istanbul to make way for construction of the 93rd shopping mall in the city – mass protests spread nationwide in 80 out of 81 cities and quickly turned into anti-government protests. The internationally-condemned police crackdowns on peaceful protests escalated tension and the brutality of police violence is still drawing reactions from the international community, NGOs and academia.
While global solidarity has been shown with the Gezi Park protests and calls to end police violence and respect basic rights and freedoms can be heard from everywhere around the world, the AKP government turns a deaf ear to the call of reason and continues with repressive laws and regulations against non-partisans.
According to the new regulations, individuals and organizations (mainly civil society NGOs) will be strictly monitored and members would be detained for 24 hours if the police suspect that they may hold a protest demonstration. To prevent civilians from returning to the original protest plans, police will be able to ask for an extension of the detention period.
Apart from raising the prison sentence for damaging public property to five years, the new regulation also presupposes establishment of a board to monitor malpractice within institutions.
Opposition members of the Parliament initially described the new regulation as being against the rule of law, as well as “the mark of a police state” and “beyond fascism.”
This regulation, when implemented, will be the most basic enemy of rights and freedoms, leaving every individual’s choices, lifestyle and security at the mercy of whoever rises to power and decides for everyone else. It is a pity that civil society in Turkey has learned the value of the right to protest only recently, but the government fails to see the democratic worth of this lesson and refuses to comply with international human-rights standards.