On the 34th anniversary of the September 12th 1980 military coup, young liberal Turkish activists organized a protest rally against the backlash in democratic values and democratization of the country. They got together in Taksim’s Galatasaray Square, wore their white t-shirts on which were printed “no u turn” signs, read out a press statement against the undemocratic implementation of laws in the country and started their march. Unlike all protest rallies beforehand, they were walking backwards as a sign of the Turkish democracy going the same way.
Only a few steps behind them were located riot police and water cannon, aka TOMA and the group had to divert their path in order not to crash them, but this seemed like another significant coincidence. Members of “Democracy Watch” and “Law, Liberty, Tolerance” foundations and voluntary activists have participated in the protest and reminded of the initial steps taken against the coup legacy, back in 2010 constitutional reform referenda.
The Press Statement reads as follows:
“We have just observed yet another anniversary of the September 12th military coup which has had a significant role in our political and democratic lives and continues to be a bleeding wound. The system that has replaced the rule of law with law of the powerful, has installed a network of bans and prohibitions on individual and social liberties even after the 34 years. In the recent years, we have also observed quite a few positive steps in terms of our democracy and freedoms. One of them was the constitutional reform referenda on September 12th 2010. Even though we had imagined this referenda to be a beginning, it was forgotten before even the end of the year. The militaristic constitution of 1980 continues to be an obstacle in the face of civilian thinking and liberties. Universities continue to graduate uniform persons with the help of Higher Authority for Education. The legal institutions which are supposed to spread justice, get shaped with power-relations and interest struggles. The media which should be independent and unbiased revolve around interest relations. Our people and cities turn paler just like the democratic promises of the government. In Turkey, which has a ranking of 154 in press freedom, 90 in human development index and 88 in international democratic index, all these are announced as “New Turkey”. We the youth of Turkey who wish to see our liberties and democracy among the level of developed countries, refuse to act as three monkeys against all these going on. We do not approve of the backlash in democracy’s basic principles such as basic rights and freedoms, separation of powers. Yet, in order to protest against the backlash and backwardness we have been experiencing as a society and country, we will march backwards. We hereby set a note in history in terms of our values and principles by taking a step back, and continue to walk towards a much brighter future for Turkey.”