The reforms contained in the government’s recent “democratization package” aim to take revenge for the Gezi Park unrest, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Akif Hamzaçebi has said, claiming that the package represents “state terror.”
“It was not a democratization package, but a package of authoritarianism. It was a package aimed at transforming Turkey into a police state, and for much more power to be used by the state against those who use their right to assemble and their freedom of expression. This is a package of state terror. It is a package of taking revenge against the Gezi events. It is a package to strengthen the state of ‘telekulak,’” Hamzaçebi said on Dec. 11, using the neologism “telekulak” to refer to illegal eavesdropping.
The long-anticipated 17-article package was finally submitted to Parliament on Dec. 5, and included an amendment that paved the way for heavier sentences in cases similar to those related to the Gezi Park protests.
“In democracies, governors and governments are not squares. Democracy requires squares. A square is equal to democracy. If a government and a prime minister are afraid of the square, then it means they are afraid of democracy. Now, there is a prime minister and government who are fearful of these squares. Only authoritarian administrations are afraid of squares,” Hamzaçebi said.
His remarks came only a day after the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that prosecutors had charged 255 protesters, including seven foreigners, over the mass demonstrations that swept the country over the summer.
Those indicted face a range of charges including violating laws on demonstrations, “damaging public property,” “taking part in illegal demonstrations,” “causing interruptions in public services,” “damaging a place of worship,” and “protecting criminals.”
“Gezi was not an ideological movement. It was a reaction of the society saying ‘Do not intervene in my lifestyle.’ The prime minister wants to take revenge for the Gezi incidents. This is a package for taking revenge against Gezi,” Hamzaçebi said.
The remarkable unrest, during which six protesters and a police officer lost their lives and more than 8,000 people were injured, began as a peaceful sit-in protest in late May against the destroying of trees in Istanbul’s central Gezi Park, next to Taksim Square. Upon the police’s fierce intervention against the protesters at the park, protests spread across the entire country in the form of anti-government demonstrations and civil disobedience acts.