This piece is about the way in which the AKP government, through its use of the National Intelligence Unit (MIT) and the Police Intelligence unit has turned profiling into a standardised practice that has gone as far as becoming contractualised through the signing of protocols.
I will start with the article that was published in Taraf Daily Newspaper on the 10th June which reported that the MIT have been busy illegally collecting data about Turkish citizens and profiling them on databases. According to the article, MIT forced the Turkish Postal Services (PTT), the Education Ministry, Turkish Airlines (THY), the Social Security Institution (SGK) and the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) to sign protocols on sharing information of individuals who ‘make use of the services’ of these institutions, which experts and jurists have said is a violation of individual freedoms and the right to privacy.
Never mind that, government is working on a quick fix: a new law will grant the MIT special powers to legally keep tabs on everyone who goes to school in Turkey, anyone who has a bank account, or anyone who uses the postal service to name only 3 institutions.
A couple of days later, Mehmet Baransu, the same journalist from Taraf revealed that the profiling carried out by MIT had also been keeping tabs on the political leanings of big businessmen (eg. whether they vote AKP or not). Reason being, when it came to giving out tenders for large public contracts, it was made sure that the public procurements were given to businessmen that voted for the AKP. Thus, we gain an insight into the ugliest face of cronyism.
CHP MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu submitted a question to the Turkish Parliament, making an official request for an answer to the claims raised by the article which was never made. To make matters worse, although the claims were not denied, the courts made it illegal for media sources to report on the alleged MIT reports to the government.
On the 19th of June, the AKP past yet another law that legalises the profiling of medical patients. Through the new system called ‘Health Net’, the Ministry of Health is collecting all sorts of personal information including drinking habits, birth control habits of women and whether they have had abortions etc. On this note, it is also worth mentioning the scandal that came up in May which shows the Ministry of Health have been profiling women who have been having abortions and calling them at their homes to ask their husbands if they knew that their wives were having abortions.
Just to highlight the absurd levels to which this profiling can reach, a bunch of people who protested Erdoğan during the 2010 World Basketball Championship that was hosted in Turkey were deciphered at great length: The authorities used the camera recordings to find out the seat numbers which were used to locate the credit card details that were used to buy tickets online for those seats…
Within the context of the Gezi Protest, as one would expect, protesters are being profiled in as many ways as it is possible. Here are some examples:
– Hospitals in Ankara and Istanbul have been sent separate forms during the protests so that patients that were injured during the protests could be profiled .
– Ministry of National Education has written a letter to school administrations requesting them to investigate and pass over the names of teachers and other staff that have been taking part in the Gezi Protests or who have been sympathetic to the cause. When news of this came out, CHP MP Dilek Akagün Yılmaz submitted a question to parliament, declaring a reply from the Minister of Education. Her request was blocked by the National Assembly Leadership’s Office on bogus grounds that the question was too long and too personal. In short, the opposition in parliament are not even allowed to do their job, which is to check on the AKP. The message is clear: no one can question the AKP. Thus, we gain an insight into the broken parliamentary system.
– A columnist writes about how her assistant was not allowed on a graduate program at Marmara University (state university) because of protest pictures posted on her facebook account. (She was told by the university).
– Football fans have been central during the Gezi Protests and still are. Bearing this in mind, it is no surprise that the AKP have lit a fire under the Turkish Football Federation. Newspapers today report that a new system is being introduced at football stadiums where entrance will be made through e-tickets which will record the personal details of supporters…
Funny… People talk of dark storm clouds gathering over Turkey. Doesn’t anybody see that it is already raining?!