Turkey’s labor minister cannot be president

Turkey’s labor minister cannot be president

One of the articles included in the constitutional amendments jointly proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) centers on who is eligible to be elected as president.  

One of the conditions is being born a citizen of the Republic of Turkey. At first glance, that looks like a normal condition. But we should not forget that we have a reality in our country of migrations, which should be regarded as a legacy of the Ottoman Empire. 

Those Turks who the empire left behind continued to migrate to the motherland after the Republic of Turkey was formed and rightfully earned their citizenship. But they were not born Turkish citizens, so according to the constitutional proposal these citizens will not have the right to be elected president. 

For instance, Labor and Social Security Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu was born in western Thrace, in Komotini (Gümülcine, Greece). He first came to Turkey for school as a foreign student. He became a medical doctor but they would not let him do his profession in Greece, so in 1983 he illegally crossed the Maritsa River to Turkey. He became a Turkish citizen in 1986.  

There are tens of thousands of citizens in similar situation. Müezzinoğlu was able to be elected as a deputy and later became a cabinet minister. But if the new constitution is approved, he will not be eligible to be president. 

There are some who may say that in the U.S. too people who are not born a U.S. citizen cannot be elected president. But the U.S. constitution was written in 1787, back when it could not have been possible to predict how citizenship law would develop in the civilized world. 

In modern law, citizenship defines the human component of the state. Ethnic and religious-based discrimination must not be made among citizens that make up a nation. 

The 10th article of the current constitution stipulates that citizens are equal “irrespective of language, race, color, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion, sect, or any such considerations.” 
Are we now giving up on this article? 

Of course, when a constitution has been prepared to satisfy only one person, such a hastily prepared text is inevitable. 

Congratulations to all involved in writing such an “inclusive” constitution. 

Attack on freedom of the press  

Turkey is a country where freedom of the press has not existed for a long time. Prisons are full of journalists. 
Daily Cumhuriyet journalists Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gürsel, Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Turhan Günay, Önder Çelik, Bülent Utku, Kemal Güngör, Hakan Kara and Akın Atalay are all in prison. Writer Aslı Erdoğan and linguist Necmiye Alpay have been in jail for more than three months for taking part in another newspaper’s symbolic editorial consultation board, without even having any administrative duties. Others in jail are Nazlı Ilıcak, Şahin Alpay, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Ali Bulaç, Mümtazer Türköne, Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan. 

There is no guarantee that tomorrow other journalists will not be arrested with similarly invented claims. 

This is not enough for the uncontrollable trolls of the government. They use all kinds of tactics to harass critical journalists. 

In the most recent incident, Hürriyet journalist İsmail Saymaz’s Twitter account was hacked. The hackers took the content of his private messages and spread them across the Internet using fake accounts. They imagine that in this way they are threatening all journalists who are not pro-government. They think they are defaming Saymaz and intimidating opposition journalists through him. 

We already knew that absolute power absolutely corrupts. But we did not know they would stoop so low as to resort to such methods. 

Meanwhile, deputies of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) - those who are not yet in jail – have been participating in parliamentary budget talks while holding up the photos of their jailed colleagues in the General Assembly and placing them on their desks. Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman requested Deputy Speaker Pervin Buldan, also from the HDP, to have the photos removed, saying these images were “embarrassing.” Parliament TV tried hard not to show these photographs, shooting the session mostly with close ups. 

What a funny country we have become. 

It is not considered embarrassing that deputies are arrested pending trial, but it is embarrassing that their photos are displayed on desks at parliament.