MEHMET ALİ BİRAND > We cannot get anywhere with bans

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Two incidents occurred over the weekend, and I watched both of them in astonishment. 

We used to come across these same scenes in the 1980s and 1990s. Police and soldiers would react harshly against demonstrators and the demonstrators would react even more harshly in turn. In the end, there would be bloodshed and the incident would be closed. 


Well, they would say, “Because legal permission for a demonstration had not been granted, the security forces had to intervene.” Thus, even the simplest demonstration would turn into a major incident. 

Years passed under this mentality. We were not able to learn, at all costs, that we cannot get anywhere with prohibitions. 

I can never forget that security officials on duty would issue statements afterwards, saying things like, “If we had not intervened in every demonstration, then incidents would not have spread this much,” trying to explain how unnecessary this toughness was. 

Thus, we have not learned anything. 

Other colleagues have asked, and I am also asking: 

- What have we gained? 


The state is not able to get rid of its former reflexes. It still acts with the same mentality. What a pity… 

Who decides on the sanctity of Eyüp? 

What happened at Efes Pilsen One Love Music Festival was hilarious for me.
Some people came up and said, “This is a sacred neighborhood, you cannot drink beer here.” And the mayor supported them. 

Neither Bilgi University, nor Efes Pilsen resisted. They immediately surrendered. Nobody stood up and said, “Guys, you cannot make this decision about Eyüp. The sacred place is Eyüpsultan, not the neighborhood of Eyüp.” 

Nobody resisted. The “neighborhood pressure” won. The sale of beer was banned. 

While it should be just the opposite way around, there was no reaction to this weirdness. 

Well, there was a ban and what happened? Drinks were sold outside the door. 

Did alcohol sales in Eyüp come to an end? Today, shops and stores in Eyüp, do they not sell any booze? 

It is now much better understood that for any decision to be made regarding Eyüp, it should not be the residents of Eyüp only but all of Istanbul should have a say. 

There is one thing that everybody needs to know: That is, this country belongs to us all and anybody forcefully imposing a lifestyle on somebody else would not be tolerated.
Eyüp residents, maybe unintentionally, have warned us. 

Let’s not regard this as a small incident; maybe this is a breaking point. 

AKP has no right to do this 

A story in daily Milliyet gave me the creeps. According Önder Yılmaz’s story, jurists from the ruling Justice and Development Party (Ak Party) have submitted proposals to the Constitution Conciliation Commission for the “Liberty of the Press” chapter including several restrictions. I got nervous as I read it. I felt like I was back in the 1980s. 

Look what they want to impose restrictions on: 

- Disrupting national security and public order.

- Disrupting public morality.

- Publications violating the rights of others and family life.

- Violating the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. 

- Provoking war.

- Defending discrimination, hostility and hatred.

Yes, put these articles as they are in the constitution and never, never again mention freedom of the press. These are articles that can be interpreted any way you want.

If you want to question why the plane went down over Syria, then you can be prosecuted for a “national security” crime and maybe for provoking war. 

Especially the clause about disrupting public morality is good for shutting mouths up and blowing dark winds of piety. 

The Ak Party does not have the right to do such a thing. This does not suit a party that walked into power to change this system and bring freedoms. Thank God, I was a bit relieved when Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek told journalist Fikret Bila that these should not be included in a free constitution. 

However, I’m still skeptical. There are people and ideas within the Ak Party that could easily move the freedoms in this country into the primitive ages. We often come across examples of this.


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Notice on comments

Romeo Blair

7/18/2012 5:38:14 AM

A futile attempt of building a great deal of eye-blinding darkness upon Light by the ruling government that wants to run every little detail in this country entirely their way, which according to their “neutral” point view would be the best way to bring the country to a better level of prosperity.Oh there surely is freedom of the press here, however they have sent the message out implying“you would be better off so long as you bear these set of rules in mind, even if is at the expense of public"

Fatih Aydin

7/18/2012 2:37:32 AM

Aslam Benli: You're absolutely right, it's turning in to nothing but a dictatorship from what I observe & basic human rights are being tread upon, religion is almost being forced down people’s throats leading to Turkey’s secular way of life being threatened, & what’s funny is that they think I’ll do a years’ worth of military duty for a country that’s ruled by an authoritarian regime, hah! I think they’ll find me on the coasts of Ibiza enjoying the sun & alcohol, not to mention the cigarettes ;)

Aslam Benli

7/17/2012 8:49:42 PM

Fatih Aydin: I feel your pain. My family lives in Izmir and I visit them every year. Thanks God Izmir is a more tolerant place. But unfortunately, this has been the AKP agenda from day one. They pretended to be a "moderate" Islamic party and now you can judge them by their actions. Also, Erdogan is becoming every day more and more like Vladimir Putin (he sends his opponents and critics to jail)

çiğdem uzun

7/17/2012 8:35:08 PM

we all know that bans wont be over unless our people have enough information about daily incidents.ı believe that our people will behave as a conscious citizen.and then everythings ''ll be okay.so we musnt pretend not to see happenings around us.

Fatih Aydin

7/17/2012 7:45:38 PM

This is what I hate about our own people, they just don't know when to mind their own business! If I want to drink I'll drink till the sun rises, and if I want to smoke I'll do it to my last dying breath too! The only thing I can say is thank God I'm not living in Turkey, I visit every year once a year, and even that gets unbearable due to the majority of our citizens mindset! If it wasn't for my family living in Istanbul, I'd avoid the country all together!

Aslam Benli

7/17/2012 6:38:58 PM

Wow, is that place in Turkey or Iran? That is the hidden agenda of the AKP. Remember: The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers... going backwards into a theocracy?


7/17/2012 6:35:47 PM

Get rid of Mr. Erdogan's authoritarian and totalitarian regime asap. They are taking away your human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and so on. An awesome article Mr. Birand ! Regards

mara mcglothin

7/17/2012 4:52:27 PM

These have been the concerns all along!!!! I thought that when the new constitution was drafted that more freedoms would be given and Article 301 would be abollished, but now more restrictions are being put forward. The normal Turk who votes for the AKP better wake up and vote on other areas than the economy. This is a very slippery slope.

Recep Ozel

7/17/2012 3:13:30 PM

People are very scared to vote or speak against AKP. They are scared against the police, the judicial system, and scared against speaking out even on the internet. If a society develops economically and socially (through education) then freedoms need to be relaxed, not the opposite! It will be interesting to see what happens in the next elections, and whether in 10 years time we will be trying to topple an Assad of our own.

Rimon Tree

7/17/2012 7:54:20 AM

Mr. Birand, that's what everybody is afraid of, the backwards "moving into primitive ages". The only peaceful waay there is to prevent it is to vote AKP off wiht the next elections. I hope people will be so far sighted, though I share your scepticism. Anyhow, thank you that you put your observations into a comment!
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