European Parliament rapporteur offers advice on Gezi unrest

European Parliament rapporteur offers advice on Gezi unrest

European Parliament rapporteur offers advice on Gezi unrest

European Parliament Rapporteur Ria Oomen-Ruijten shakes hands with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Oomen-Ruijten was a guest at the International Ombudsman Symposium in Ankara. AA Photo

An international Ombudsman Symposium was held yesterday in Ankara by Turkey’s recently launched Institution of Chief Ombudsman, with the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Turkey taking the opportunity to underline the need to guarantee the right to protest, clearly referring to the recent Gezi unrest.

“The right to hold demonstrations and protest is an important right. Within legal regulations, these must be underlined. Everybody wants to feel that their lifestyle is under guarantee. The majority has the duty to consider the status of the minority. At this point, after the inspection conducted by Interior Minister Muammer Güler, the use of disproportionate force [by the police] was detected in the protests and we think steps will be taken about this,” Ria Oomen-Ruijten said, referring to the repeated criticism of the disproportionate use of force during the summer’s Gezi Park protests.

Police to face consequences

“The police and security officials must know that they will face consequences if they violate the law. The Institution of Chief Ombudsman should audit the legal compliance of the use exercised by the police, and practices such as tear gas use, on the basis of human rights. This is a very important opportunity for the Institution of Chief Ombudsman to prove its impartiality and independence,” she added.

Alongside Oomen-Ruijten, the symposium took place with the participation of Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış, Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin, Ombudsman Nihat Ömeroğlu, and European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros.

Amid noting that Turkey had made significant reforms in the past few years, Oomen-Ruijten underlined the importance of keeping the ties between Turkey and the EU alive in the negotiation process, pointing out to the importance of opening of chapters on judicial structure, security, fundamental rights, and freedoms. “It is very important that Turkey continues with the reform process and consolidates fundamental rights and freedoms,” she said.

Oomen-Ruijten also stressed the importance of bolstering ties with regard to the current turmoil in Syria and Egypt. “When we look at Syria and Egypt, strengthening Turkey-EU cooperation is more important than ever. For this, what is needed is to put forward a strong will. This will be realized by things such as constructive dialogue and strengthening common values. Both sides must make efforts for these. This is a hard time for bilateral relations, but if we are in mutual commitment, we can strengthen our future,” she said.