Public outcry leads government to make changes in regulations

Public outcry leads government to make changes in regulations

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Public outcry leads government to make changes in regulations

The families of 25 soldiers killed in a munitions blast reacted harsly after they were told their loved ones had died in a ‘natural disaster.’ Hürriyet photo

A media-led public outcry into two recent scandals has forced the government to make regulatory changes after soldiers killed in a blast were declared to have died in a “natural disaster” while an arrested suspect was prevented from staying at home during bereavement leave.

The Defense Ministry announced yesterday that work was in progress to change regulations on “martyrdom,” while Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said arrested suspects on personal leave would be allowed to stay at home.The decision to amend these regulations follows two media stories that led to a major public outcry, underlining the importance of media freedom.

In the first incident, a letter sent by the Turkish Armed Forces to the relatives of the 25 Turkish soldiers killed in an ammunition blast last month in Afyonkarahisar informed the troops’ families that their loved ones had been killed “by a natural disaster while on duty.” The story resulted in a major public protest.

Following the reactions to the story, the ministry said “natural disaster” was chosen to describe the situation because an ammunition blast was not one of the 10 reasons listed in regulations for legally being considered a martyr. “Works have been launched to change the regulations, which do not fully cohere with the incident,” the ministry said in a written statement.

The Justice Ministry’s decision to amend regulations on inmates’ rights followed similar public protest of a recent incident.

Fatih Hilmioğlu, who is currently under arrest in connection with the ongoing Ergenekon coup case, was granted a four-day furlough from prison in order to attend the funeral of his son on Oct. 16, but was not allowed to spend the night at home with his grieving family. He was taken to the funeral under gendarmerie supervision, and spent the night at the prison after the funeral. “We will make the necessary amendments to allow inmates on funeral leave to stay with their families,” Ergin said, daily Milliyet reported.