Ruling AKP approves midnight bill to curb authority of chambers supporting Gezi

Ruling AKP approves midnight bill to curb authority of chambers supporting Gezi

Ruling AKP approves midnight bill to curb authority of chambers supporting Gezi

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Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) votes ensured the passing of a late-night proposal regarding occupational chambers in the June 9 parliamentary session, in a move that was interpreted by most as payback for the Chamber of Architects and Engineers’ (TMMOB) vocal support of the ongoing Gezi movement. 

The surprise proposal, which removes the TMMOB from any involvement in city planning processes and their authority to approve plans, raised concern from opposition benches, with main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy group leader Akif Hamzaçebi describing the proposal as “part of government’s witch hunt over Gezi Park.” 

“You are looking to get revenge for Gezi. You are looking to polarize society,” Hamzaçebi said during the parliamentary session. 

“The summary of this proposal is this: the government is making the TMMOB pay, and those who are involved with Taksim Solidarity pay. There is no other cause, no technicality on which it is based. It aims to remove the visa application for projects, which allows for occupational supervision and provides the chambers with financial resources,” he added. 

The proposal, passed by AKP votes, eliminates occupational chambers from any future city-planning procedures, removing the obligation of the chambers’ approval of projects. The regulations transfer complete control to related institutions, leaving all decisions to the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry and removing the need of any supervision or involvement from the related chambers, including the TMMOB. 

CHP members initially opposed the proposal’s failure to keep up with parliamentary regulations, with Hamzaçebi claiming the proposal should not be put into motion due to irregularities regarding the signature on the document. 

The irregularities also prompted a response from Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) benches, with party member Ali Uzunırmak likening the session to “pirate legalization.”

“You can’t make pirate laws like organizing pirate meetings. To pass such a detailed proposal avoiding commissions will benefit neither you nor the country,” Uzunırmak said. 

The ruling AKP defended the bill, which lawmakers said aimed to end an injustice. Mustafa Elitaş, deputy parliamentary group leader of the AKP, said the members of the TMMOB had been exercising an authority that had no legal or constitutional basis.

“The law might irritate some chambers and the small group of administrators, but it is for the greater good of all engineers and architects,” he said.

The TMMOB was one of the strongest supporters of the Gezi movement, with TMMOB representative Mücella Yapıcı acting as a spokesperson for the Taksim Solidarity Platform. Yapıcı was detained on July 8, along with Ali Çerkezoğlu, general secretary of the Istanbul Medical Chamber. 

TMMOB has long been a vocal opponent of the AKP government, along with some workers’ and civil servants’ unions and the Turkish Medical Association (TTB).