‘No’ campaigners intimidated ahead of Turkey’s referendum: OSCE

‘No’ campaigners intimidated ahead of Turkey’s referendum: OSCE

‘No’ campaigners intimidated ahead of Turkey’s referendum: OSCE

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There are intimidation attempts against campaigners in the “no” camp ahead of Turkey’s upcoming referendum, according to a top official from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). 

Michael Georg Link, the director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said the OSCE will release its interim report on the referendum process this weekend, but the “main problem is the campaigning process,” Deutsche Welle reported on April 5. 

Noting that the referendum is “handled one-sidedly in the media,” Link also said there are “restrictions in the issues, such as news and organizing demonstrations,” due to the ongoing state of emergency, which was declared after the July 15, 2016 military coup attempt. 

“I was welcomed well in Turkey. The cooperation was professional,” he said, referring to his recent fact-finding visit to the country.

“As the OSCE, we are only able to observe the referendum process inside Turkey. We don’t have a team to observe voting among expats in Germany, Austria or Sweden. This is an issue that we need to handle in the future as the OSCE,” Link added. 

Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 to decide whether to change the current parliamentary system into an executive presidency with vastly enhanced powers for the president. 

In the first eight days of voting, which started on March 27, some 576,216 Turkish expatriates have cast their votes. 
Elsewhere, voters based in The Netherlands started casting early ballots on April 5. Polling stations to accommodate some 250,000 eligible Dutch-Turkish voters - most with dual citizenship - opened early in the morning at three venues across the country, officials and news reports said.

“So far, people have been coming to vote in dribs and drabs, mainly small groups,” said Johan Tensen, communications chief at Amsterdam’s RAI conference center, one of the voting venues.

“We are, however, expecting a majority of voters to come over the weekend,” Tensen told AFP.

Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Tekin Bingöl has stated that there have been a total of 57 “violation attempts” in the first seven days of voting abroad.