Turkish government pushes security bill amid opposition’s outcry
CİHAN PhotoThe leaders of all three opposition parties represented in parliament, as well as grassroots groups, have upped the ante to prevent the adoption of a controversial homeland security bill, as the General Assembly finally began debating the motion yesterday after previous discussions were postponed.
Addressing their respective parliamentary groups just a few hours before Parliament’s General Assembly was to begin debates on the bill, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş excoriated the prime minister and the government for their perceived ill will which, according to the three opposition leaders, prompted them to draft such a bill.
The CHP’s meeting was attended by the families of the victims of disproportionate use of force by police, including the family of Berkin Elvan and Ali İsmail Korkmaz. Elvan, a 15-year-old teenager, died in March 2014 after languishing in a coma for 269 days due to a head injury caused by a teargas canister during the Gezi protests in Istanbul in June 2013. Korkmaz, 19, was beaten with sticks by plainclothes men during the Gezi protests in Eskişehir on June 2, 2013. He died on July 10 after spending 38 days in a coma.
Addressing the families, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “All democratic, patriotic and decent citizens of this country, not just CHP members, are there for you. Since 2007, 183 persons have lost their lives due to police bullets. Why would 183 of our children lose their lives? The police are there to assure a person’s life, not to kill a man.”
The families raised placards reading “No to the homeland security law,” and “No to a police state” while carrying photographs of their children.
Recalling that the draft security bill would expand the authorities of the police, Kılıçdaroğlu noted that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) had insisted on passing the draft despite strong objections.
“We will all together see. We will fulfill the duty falling on our shoulders at parliament. We will do whatever is needed. Whatever authority the parliament’s internal regulations grant us, we will use all of those authorities until the end for this country’s democracy and freedom and to have happy people live in this country,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
‘A cover for unlawfulness and the AKP’s security’
Bahçeli also criticized the security bill in strong terms. “We know that this bill, which was brought to parliament under the guise of homeland security, is make-up for unlawfulness and a legal cover for the secret agendas of the government,” Bahçeli said.
The MHP leader listed various provisions of the draft which he maintained had nothing to do with security or increasing security.
“How is giving authorities that belong to judges and prosecutors to governors, sub-governors and police associated with security?” Bahçeli asked.
The current law requires authorization by a judge or prosecutor, but the draft law would bypass that authority, permitting a senior police officer to authorize searches in writing or verbally, then to submit the search warrants to a judge within 24 hours for after-the-fact approval.
In a rare convergence, Demirtaş echoed Bahçeli’s point of view.
“The homeland security package is a 130-article package to provide security for the state. Society does not have security; all they have in their mind is the security of the AKP,” Demirtaş said.
“If the other opposition parties are ready for this, let’s not pass this bill into law. We will break our back not to let it be adopted,” Demirtaş said.
Meanwhile, Bahçeli lamented Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu for citing his party’s name in the same context as the HDP due to its objections to the bill.
“They are almost defending bonzai,” Davutoğlu said late Feb. 16, criticizing them for their objection to the bill which he said would be helpful in the fight against the use of a cheap synthetic drug called “bonzai,” the use of which has been rapidly spreading in recent years.
“Our coming next to the HDP is something which cannot happen even on doomsday,” Bahçeli said.