Tag Archives: Justice and Development Party

In First, Erdogan Sues Own Country Over Twitter Free-Speech Rulings

rwrq

Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News over the weekend characterized the country’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as having broken new legal ground after the Turkish leader applied for damages from the Turkish state as part of an ongoing controversy related to Twitter:

The move has been described as a “first of its kind” by the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) head Metin Feyzioğlu, who said the prime minister of Turkey had never before filed a lawsuit against the state.

“There is no precedent for the Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic to sue the Turkish Republic and demand compensation. This is happening for the first time,” said Feyzioğlu.

Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) had banned access to both Twitter and YouTube on the eve of recent nationwide elections, a move that was widely seen as aimed at dampening discussions of a massive graft scandal that had ensnared top AKP elites including Erdogan and his family.

The bans drew global ridicule and triggered a diplomatic crisis with Europe, and were promptly overturned by Turkish courts on free speech grounds (the government restored access to Twitter but YouTube has remained unreachable). Erdogan’s lawsuit appears to claim that the Turkish state allowed Twitter to continue being accessible, and Twitter violated his privacy rights by linking to purported recordings of him discussing how to hide vast sums of money, and so the Turkish state violated his privacy rights and owes him damages.

Legal scholars interviewed by various Turkish outlets expressed skepticism regarding the soundness of the legal theory. Nonetheless two anonymous Twitter accounts that posted links to the conversations were apparently suspended in the immediate aftermath of Erdogan’s court application:

Twitter last week agreed to comply with a Turkish government request to close some accounts that officials said had breached national security or privacy regulations.

The two accounts – Haramzadeler and Bascalan – each had more than 400,000 followers, who now see only a red circle with a line through it and cannot access any tweeted material.

 The Tower.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

Turkish president rules out role swap with Erdogan

53355

(Reuters) – Turkey’s president appeared to rule himself out as a potential future prime minister on Friday, saying a “Putin-Medvedev model” under which he might swap roles with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was not suitable for Turkey.

President Abdullah Gul‘s comments threw open the question of who might succeed Erdogan should he run for the presidency in an August election as expected. Gul had been seen as a potential future prime minister with Erdogan as head of state.

“I don’t have any political plan for the future under today’s conditions,” Gul told reporters in the western province of Kutahya, when asked about the presidential election.

Russia‘s current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev replaced Vladimir Putin as president in 2008, while Putin became prime minister. They swapped roles in 2012.

Asked if a “Putin-Medvedev model” might be conceivable, Gul said such a formula would not be “appropriate” for a democracy.

Gul did not elaborate on what had led to his decision.

Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayers he had not heard Gul’s words and would not comment before speaking with the president directly.

Gul co-founded the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party with Erdogan and has remained a close ally. But he is viewed as a more conciliatory figure than the combative prime minister and their relations have at times appeared strained.

(Corrects fourth paragraph to reflect that Russia’s Medvedev was First Deputy Prime Minister, not Prime Minister, before he became President in 2008.)

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Turkey’s Erdogan Says Lifting of Twitter Ban Should Be Overturned

ANKARA — Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday a constitutional court ruling lifting a ban on Twitter was wrong and should be overturned.

“The constitutional court’s ruling on Twitter did not serve

justice. This ruling should be corrected,” Erdogan told a parliamentary meeting of his AK Party.

Access to Twitter was blocked on March 21 in the run-up to local elections, but Turkey’s telecoms authority lifted the two-week-old ban last Thursday after the court ruled that the block breached freedom of expression.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Turkish police use water cannon against rally

54543

ANKARA: Turkish riot police Tuesday deployed water cannon against protesters who claimed vote-rigging in weekend local polls in which the Islamic-rooted party of Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared sweeping victories.

About 2,000 supporters of the main secular opposition party had massed outside the elections authority in the capital Ankara, chanting “Thief Tayyip!” and “Ankara, don’t sleep. Stand up for your vote!”

Police then unleashed water jets to disperse the vocal and passionate crowd — recalling the street clashes that started last June in Istanbul’s Gezi Park and kicked off months of political turmoil in the country.

The top spokesman for Erdogan’s party condemned the rally, saying on TV: “You cannot claim a victory that the people have not given to you by massing crowds in front of the election board.

“Everyone has a natural right to object but no-one can achieve anything by mobilising the crowds through social media and provoking them,” added Huseyin Celik of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Sunday’s municipal polls were seen as a referendum on the 11-year-rule of Erdogan, who is popular with many Turks for driving strong economic growth but has been accused of an increasingly authoritarian ruling style.

Turkey’s two biggest cities, Istanbul and Ankara, were the top prizes in the elections, in which Erdogan’s AKP declared sweeping wins, despite recent graft claims against the premier’s inner circle and an Internet clampdown.

Claims of election fraud have circulated on social media, including a photo which purportedly shows ballots in a garbage heap, and there have been complaints over power blackouts in some areas during the evening vote-count.

The race was especially symbolic in Ankara, the inland capital built by the secular founding father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who established the Republican People’s Party (CHP), now the main opposition group.

Pro-CHP demonstrators massed outside the Supreme Electoral Board building after Ankara mayor Melih Gokcek, in power for 20 years, had declared victory with a wafer-thin margin of about one percent.

The crowd chanted, “We are the soldiers of Ataturk”, a popular CHP slogan.

Protester Tulay Ozturk told AFP: “I believe the elections are marred by wrongdoing. That’s why I am here. I want fair elections.”

Gokcek dismissed his rivals’ claims, saying: “They want to stir up Turkey … They want to give the impression that democracy in Turkey is being crushed.”

In the tight race, Gokcek scored 44.79 percent against 43.77 percent for CHP candidate Mansur Yavas, according to the provisional results — a margin of about 30,000 votes in the city of five million.

Yavas wrote on Twitter that a recount “will reveal the truth” — the short message post itself defying an official ban on the social media site, which has been used to leak corruption claims against Erdogan’s allies.

In Istanbul the official AKP lead was much wider, at 48 to 41 percent, but the CHP candidate Mustafa Sarigul there also challenged the results.

Unless irregularities are addressed, he said, “this election, regardless of its outcome, will be etched in our history of democracy as contentious.”

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz meanwhile blamed most voting-day power outages on weather conditions and said: “Those who lost the elections should not use power cuts as an excuse for their defeat”.

In Ankara — where in some areas ballots were counted by candle-light — he blamed a cat that had slipped into a power transmission unit and presumably was electrocuted when it caused a short circuit.

“I am not joking, friends,” he said. “A cat walked into a transmission unit. That’s why there was a power cut. It’s not the first time this has happened.”

Trouble also flared in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, where the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) declared a ceasefire a year ago amid efforts to resolve a conflict that has claimed 40,000 lives in three decades.

In the town of Ceylanpinar, near the border with war-torn Syria, police fired tear gas and used water cannon against hundreds of supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

The party had governed the district since 2004 but lost it to the AKP last weekend, amid claims BDP ballots were burned and dumpened onto a garbage heap.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Turkey to vote in crucial local elections amid graft scandal and social media ban

Supporters of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) wave Turkish and party flags during an electioSupporters of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) wave Turkish and party flags during an election rally at Kadikoy in Istanbul on March 29, 2014.n rally at Kadikoy in Istanbul on March 29, 2014.

With Twitter bans, YouTube blocks, damning leaks and a ‘shadow government’ pulling strings behind the scenes, municipal elections in Turkey are only the beginning of a crucial 15-month voting cycle that could determine Turkey’s future for decades to come.

The polls are set to open across the country on Sunday in what would normally regarded as small town politics replete with the nuts and bolt issues of governing like streets, schools and trash collection. But these are not ordinary times in Turkey, and what would normally be considered local fare is now being viewed as a much broader referendum on the ruling party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP].

During the last poll in 2009, AKP clinched 39 percent of the vote, light years ahead of the socially liberal and Kemalist Republican People’s Party (CHP), which only managed 23 percent. While AK Party actually took a 2.6 point hit compared to their 41.6 percent showing in 2004, analysts believe anything below 40 percent this time around will be considered a blow to Erdogan.

Along with CHP, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Justice and Development Party (BDP) are also hoping to dethrone AK after over a decade in power.

The nationwide municipal poll is also the first time Turks will vote since last summer’s antigovernment demonstrations, which left 11 dead and over 8,000 injured.

Despite a series of scandals which have completely changed the landscape of Turkish politics, opinion polls suggest the Islamist AK Party, which was first swept to power in 2002, will win on Sunday as well. That victory is viewed as a stepping stone in once against asserting its dominance in a year-plus voting cycle which will see the presidency up for grabs in August and the culminate in the June 2015 Turkish general election.

The mayoral elections in Ankara and Istanbul are viewed as the most important litmus test for Erdogan’s rule, with many believing Sunday’s result is vital to Turkey’s very survival as a democratic state.

Istanbul, the 15-million-megapolis where Erdogan first tested his mettle as the city’s mayor over 20 years ago, is viewed as the epicenter of events. As the old Turkish political aphorism goes: “The one who takes Istanbul, takes Turkey.”

Mustafa Sarigul, the 57-year-old mayor of Istanbul’s wealthy district of Sisli and CHP candidate, hopes to dislodge AK party incumbent Kadi Topbas in elections.

In the Turkish capital, Ankara, meanwhile, five-time AK Party incumbent Melih Gokcek is taking on the CHP’s Mansur Yavas in the mayoral race. Gokcek bested Yavas during the previous race in 2009.

Meanwhile, the run-up to the local elections have been marked by constant rancor, with allegations of fraud adding to the protests over corruption and the suppression of political and civil freedoms from the opposition.

The latest scandal first erupted on December 17, when three AK Party cabinet ministers’ children were arrested on corruption charges, and several government figures were targeted in graft investigations.

In February, a firestorm was sparked when audio recordings in which Erdogan is reportedly heard telling his son, Bilal, get rid of tens of millions of dollars, were posted on YouTube.

Erdogan has responded by purging thousands of police and prosecutors, lashing out at “traitors” and “terrorists” for organizing the campaign against him. Chief among them is rival Fethullah Gulen, the US-based head of the Gulen movement whom Erdogan has accused of organizing a “parallel state.”

Then in a move that has since sent shockwaves through liberal sections of Turkish society, Erdogan moved to do away with the medium in which both the damning leaks and protests against his rule were publicized: social media.

Last week, Turkey blocked access to Twitter just hours before Erdogan promised to “wipe out” the social media network during a campaign rally in the northwestern city of Bursa.

Then on Thursday, access to YouTube was also cut off in Turkey after an explosive leak of audiotapes that appeared to show ministers talking about provoking military intervention in Syria.

Meanwhile, whatever Sunday’s result, Erdogan, who will complete his third term next year, technically cannot run for a fourth term due to an AKP bylaw.

He does have the option of running for president in Turkey’s first publicly-elected presidential elections later this year. There has also been talk of lifting the three-term limit to allow Erdogan to run for PM once again.

Critics fear that Erdogan’s long-heralded “Turkish model”, described as an example of a modern, moderate Muslim state that works, is steadily devolving into authoritarianism.

The popular Turksih daily Hurriyet published an open letter to Erdogan urging him to unite the country of 76.6 million people before it becomes irrevocably fractured.

“Whatever percentage of the votes you get, it should be your and all of your duty to defuse the dangerous polarization and tensions that has spread throughout the whole country.”

Sunday could prove pivotal as the country struggles through what one senior government official called one of the biggest crises in Turkish history.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thousands across Turkey take to streets against graft, call on gov’t to resign

Protesters march during a demonstration against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in İstanbul on Tuesday. Riot police came out in force, firing water cannon and teargas to quell the protests.

Thousands of outraged people took to the streets on Tuesday evening with calls on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Cabinet to resign in response to a recently leaked voice recording allegedly of the prime minister instructing his son to dispose of vast amounts of cash amid an ongoing and deepening corruption scandal that has implicated Erdoğan’s close associates and family.The country was shaken on Monday evening by the voice recording of what is claimed to be Erdoğan briefing his son about recent police raids and asking him to “zero” at least $1 billion in cash stashed at five hou

ses. The conversation allegedly took place on Dec. 17, 2013, the day on which police raided a number of venues as part of a corruption investigation that has implicated the sons of three ministers, businessmen, several high-level bureaucrats and the chief of a state-run bank.

The İstanbul branch of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) staged a protest against the corruption scandal in Taksim Square on Wednesday. A crowd of protesters from the CHP gathered on İstiklal Street and chanted slogans against the government, saying, “We will ‘zero’ [erase] corruption” and “There are thieves [around us].” They attempted to march into Taksim Square itself, but the police did not allow it, as they have prohibited the act of protesting there since the Gezi Park protests of June 2013. The group stopped at the end of İstiklal Street and staged their protest there, distributing fake banknotes symbolizing the money mentioned in the most recent voice recording leak.

The first speech at the protest was delivered by CHP İstanbul provincial chairman Oğuz Kaan Salıcı, followed by a speech by Mustafa Sarıgül, the CHP’s candidate for İstanbul mayor in the local elections on March 30. Sarıgül reportedly condemned a number of media outlets — excluding Halk TV — for failing to broadcast the party’s protests. During his speech, Sarıgül said that in no democratic country are people banned from staging demonstrations, promising that he will open Taksim Square to the public if elected.

Furthermore, CHP deputies attended Parliament’s General Assembly meeting on Wednesday with banners that read “Gazi mecliste Hırsızlara yer yok” (There is no place for thieves in Parliament) in protest of the voice recording.

Nearly 4 million people listened to the voice recording on YouTube over the course of one day. Thousands of people staged demonstrations to protest the government corruption scandal in 11 cities across Turkey on Tuesday evening.

Led by various civil society organizations and leftist parties, people gathered in İstanbul’s Kadıköy district to express their dismay and deepening anger over the corruption allegations sweeping across the country. Nearly 500 people gathered at 7 p.m. in central Kadıköy and started marching towards Bahariye Street, shouting “Her yer rüşvet, her yer yolsuzluk” (Bribery is everywhere, corruption is everywhere).

A group that was calling on the government to resign headed toward the Kadıköy district branch office of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). However, riot police intervened, using pressurized water, teargas and rubber bullets. The protesters responded to the police intervention by throwing firecrackers, stones and bottles. The protesters then built barricades on a number of side streets and set the barricades on fire. Police detained nine protesters during the incidents.

İstanbul’s Bakırköy district was also filled with anti-corruption demonstrators on Tuesday evening. Gathering in Özgürlük Square at 7 p.m., a group of protesters marched down İncirli Street and shouted slogans such as “Hırsız var!” (There is a thief [around us]!). The group then read a press release in front of the AK Party’s Bakırköy district branch office. After the press release, the group dispersed without incident.

Nearly 500 demonstrators shouted slogans at Gündoğdu Square in the western city of İzmir on Tuesday evening, and police tried to disperse the group with pressurized water and teargas. The police have implemented strict security measures across the city.

A group of protesters held a large-scale demonstration in Ankara on Tuesday evening. Gathering at Kuğulu Park, the group shouted anti-government slogans and tried to close Kennedy Street to traffic, but police intervened with pressurized water to disperse the crowd. The protesters escaped by dispersing into the side streets.

Short-lived tensions erupted in the province of Eskişehir on Tuesday evening when a number of pro-AK Party supporters reacted to a group of protesters shouting anti-government slogans. A shop owner, S.Ö., reacted to the protesters while they were shouting slogans and was beaten up by the group. According to media reports, S.Ö.’s head is seriously injured and he is currently being treated in a hospital. The police, who are investigating the incident, are examining security camera footage from nearby shops to identify those responsible for the assault.

Over 200 protesters shouted slogans in Sakarya province on Tuesday evening calling on the government to resign. The police did not intervene in this protest, and the group dispersed without incident.

Groups of protesters in Aydın, Antalya, Bursa, Muğla, Çanakkale, Kocaeli and Trabzon held demonstrations in which they also called on the government to resign.

In reaction to the recording, a Twitter campaign called “Hırsız Var” was launched on Tuesday evening. The campaign calls on people to write “Hırsız Var” on banknotes. Some Twitter users taking part in the campaign shared photos of their banknotes on their pages.

The public has been riveted by sordid details of the alleged corruption as more and more information is leaked via social media and the Internet, the primary sources of information for the public given the government’s tightening grip on the press.

With recent legislation concerning the Internet, the government has cemented its firm control over websites after much wrangling between political parties in Parliament, as President Abdullah Gül signed a law last week granting the executive branch almost immediate authority to block websites without a court order.

Combined with anger over government crackdowns on the press and dissenting voices, the Internet law and a controversial national intelligence bill have given more ammunition to critics of the government, who accuse the AK Party of turning Turkey into an authoritarian state and who are wary of the direction the country has taken under Erdoğan’s administration.

There is also ongoing tension at Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), where a group of students clashed with police ahead of the opening of a highway in Ankara on Tuesday. Police fired teargas and water cannons to disperse several hundred people gathered in front of ODTÜ’s main gate. Erdoğan and several ministers attended the opening of “1071 Malazgirt Boulevard” on Tuesday. Students on campus chanted slogans saying, “Resign, government” and “Tayyip Erdoğan is a thief”; they even set up a roadblock. Police intervention dispersed the crowd but the students reportedly gathered again in front of the rector’s office to continue their protest.

Thousands across Turkey take to streets against graft, call on gov’t to resign – Today’s Zaman, your gateway to Turkish daily news.

Enhanced by Zemanta