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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. 

Why? 

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? 

Nothing…

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.

July/17/2012

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