In an effort to delegitimise the ongoing protests and to browbeat supporters into submission, all organisations that have been voicing support for the resistance are in the process of being harassed. The extent of this harassement changes from short term detainments to arrests, new laws that further regulate or punish dissent (new social media laws) or aim to eliminate opposition through judicial ‘tinkering’.
It is in this sense that the Taksim Solidarity Platform is in the process of being criminalised. According to Ismail Saymaz’s article in Radikal, a police report written in response to the Gezi Protest has branded the Taksim Solidarity Platform an illegal organisation. Calls made by Taksim Solidarity on social network sites are being coded as ‘organisation calls’ and individuals within the Platform are being charged under anti-terror laws.
On Monday (8 July) around 50 people were arrested for trying to walk to Gezi Park out of which 12 were members of Taksim Solidarity. Many of the members of Taksim Solidarity are from recognised occupational Chambers and political organisations. The 12 members are currently giving their testimonies to the court and a verdict will be passed soon.
Given the AKP government’s politics of over regulation, Chambers have often found themselves in opposition to the government where they have been brave enough to voice concern over policies that they as professionals have deemed to be not in the favour of Turkish society on the whole. For example, the Chamber of Turkish Engineers and Arhitects (TMMOB) have for a long time been battling with the government over the ‘Taksim Square Project’ and the construction of the third bridge across Istanbul, to name only two issues. Instead of listening to the experts of the profession, the government informs – every time without exception – that they know best what is good for the nation.
So, amongst the arrested members of the Taksim Platform were members of TMMOB. Moreover, that night of the arrests, the police tried raiding the chamber’s office in Taksim where Taksim Platform had made a press statement earlier.
Amidst this backdrop, on tuesday evening (9 July) during a midnight session of the Parliament, a law was passed that severely curtails the power of the TMMOB. In short, TMMOB’s right to approve projects have been taken away. Given the timing of the law, complaints that this law is in relation to the recent developments around Gezi Park and the stance the TMMOB have taken seem to well founded.
If Turkey is a state that is bound by the rule of law, a civil organisation can not be punished for disagreeing with the state. This is only one example of how rule of law in Turkey is being chewed under the boot of the AKP.
After all, Turkey is a country where you can cheek in a quick law while the opposition is fast asleep. What counts is getting those votes..
Update: Mücella Yapıcı from the Istanbul Chamber of Arhitects is currently giving her defense. She states, “My job is to research acts of lawlessness in terms of city planning and to report it to my organisation”