Top court ruling acknowledges right to peaceful protest in Turkey
ANKARAA top court has ruled that the detention of 23 people who staged a demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy in Ankara to protest the detention of several others is a violation of the constitutional right to protest peacefully.
The ruling issued by Turkey’s Constitutional Court on June 18 referred to the 34th article of the Turkish constitution that says everyone has the right to hold unarmed and peaceful meetings and demonstration marches without prior permission.
It also mentioned the 11th article of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) that says everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others.
The ruling said the right to conduct rallies and demonstration marches can be restricted by law only on the grounds of national security, public order, prevention of crime, the protection of public health and public morals or the rights and freedoms of others.
The freedom of expression was not only crucial for a democratic and inclusive society, but also for the right to hold meetings and demonstration marches, the ruling said.
The right to stage peaceful protest and freedom of expression are cornerstones of a democratic society, it said.
“The rule of law should provide those who are against the existing order a ground for expressing their political thoughts through the freedom to hold meetings and other legal outlets,” it said.
The ruling published in the Official Gazette came following the detention of Osman Erbil, a member of the Workers’ Party (now the Homeland Party – VP), along with 24 people who staged a demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in the capital Ankara to protest the detention of several people working at daily Aydınlık and some members from the party.
The police said the protest was illegal and detained 23 among the group when they sought to give a press briefing on their cause.
The protesters faced five months in prison in a public case filed against them. Erbil later filed a personal application to the Constitutional Court.
The top court then ruled that the group’s right to hold rallies and a demonstration march was violated, saying the protest was peaceful.