Turkish government is meeting groups for a new constitution…

26 Sep

Turkey is under military constitution since 1982 enforced by the 1980 military coup d’etat. The current government of Justice and Development Party which is in power for eight years is claiming it wants to replace this oppressive constitution. They won third term election and still cannot deliver a democratic constitution. It is a massive shame for Turkey to be under a military constitution since 1980, that is 31 years oppression in direct military force. All other countries which had military coup d’etats had faced their aggressors and punished them. Turkey is a real exception on this.

Government invited other political parties and groups to negotiate for a new constitution. I think everybody should step in to push it forward for a real democracy and to repair those human rights abuses and harms and punish those who are responsible.  I myself had been victimized by this cruel military regime and my life was destroyed by its inhuman practices. I was refused my right of getting my passport in 1983 and abused when I was in the military service in 1987 and I was abused and humiliated so inhumanly by the Foreign Ministry of Turkey as I was terminated so many times from my career diplomat position from 1986 December till I came to my beautiful adopted country the United States in September 2000. They kept me in candidate position and terminated my position so many times I forgot. My personal pain and experience exactly match the public feeling going on in Turkey about this change now.

Now I want to make sure that all reparations for  the harms done by this inhuman constitution and all universal most progressive human rights and freedoms must be included by this new constitutions. I want to start walking from Denmark to Ankara to promote these ideas to public on my way. I know it cannot be anything close to a quantum democracy but still it will open the gate for people so they can understand and push their new government to build the quantum computer and quantum internet to implement the quantum democracy.

Here are some pieces about the new constitution…

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September 19, 2011

Turkey Undertakes Big Push to Replace Military Constitution

Dorian Jones | Istanbul, Turkey

The speaker of the Turkish parliament held meetings on Monday with constitutional experts on the writing of a new constitution. There is broad political agreement on the need for replacing the 1982 constitution written by Turkey’s then-military rulers. A new constitution is seen as especially crucial to addressing the demands of the country’s Kurdish minority. Major problems lie ahead, however, for the government in its constitutional reform efforts.

With handshakes and smiles, Turkish parliament speaker Cemil Cicek greeted leading constitutional experts. Cicek said a new constitution is key to modernizing the country and achieving its goal of European Union membership. The gathering is the first step in the government’s bid to replace the current constitution, which is synonymous with oppression and lack of freedoms. There is wide agreement that it needs to be replaced. Building on that consensus, parliamentary deputy and senior member of the ruling AK party Volkan Bozkir said the whole process must be inclusive.

“The main pillar of the whole system is the constitution. The constitution we have now is the product of a military coup d’etat in 1980. The mentality of the constitution is not a liberal one,” said Bozkir. “The best thing to do is to have new constitution. But everybody must feel comfortable with the new constitution, and to do that, the sensitivities of everybody should be taken into consideration. And of course it should be decided with a public referendum.

The government has committed itself to consult with all the parliamentary parties. While there is acknowledgement on the need for reform, though, deep divisions remain over the nature of it. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is widely considered to want to change Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system, a proposal strongly opposed by all the opposition parties. But with Erdogan having secured 50 percent of the vote in last June’s election, political columnist Asli Aydintasbas warns government talk of consensus may just be talk.

“He does not feel the need to compromise, and basically this whole talk of consensus was not really about compromise,” said Aydintasbas.  “It was like, ‘let’s sit around the table and come around to whatever the 50 percent want.’ It’s a problem. I don’t think with the boycott and the kind of mood and rhetoric people are using, we are going to have a big consensus around the new constitution. I don’t see it happening.”

The boycott that Aydintasbas is referring to is by the country’s main pro-Kurdish party, the BDP. Its deputies are refusing to take their parliamentary oaths because six of their colleagues are languishing in jail, despite having parliamentary immunity. The constitutional reform process is already overshadowed by increased fighting between the state and the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK. Arrests of BDP members also continue, with 55 over in recent days under anti-terror laws. Political scientist Soli Ozel warns the whole constitutional  process is under threat.

“The central problem is going to be how to redefine citizenship. If it leaves the Kurdish nationalists out, then it will be a lame constitution,” said Ozel. “But the government obviously [is] banking on [the] fact that it feels qualified to speak on behalf of the Kurds, as well, because it gets in the country in general almost half of the Kurdish vote.”

The leadership of the pro-Kurdish BDP has said it will end its boycott, however, if the government gives a commitment to end cross-border operations into northern Iraq against PKK bases. Also, they want an end to the isolation of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. It remains unclear whether the government will meet those demands. But Parliamentary Deputy Bozkir believes the constitutional process will have wide parliamentary political participation.   

“They might have some tough talks in the parliament, that is understandable. But when it comes to issues which is in the interest of the country, I am really very hopeful we will have just to put the opposition parties into the process and have their views and have the constitution as a common project,” said Bozkir.

A new constitution is widely touted as key to turning Turkey into a modern democracy and paving the way to resolving the deep divisions that continue to plague its society. Already those divisions are threatening to overwhelm the government’s efforts, though, to finally sever the country’s last tie with its military past.

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Turkish Parliament gets ready for new constitution

Prior to the beginning of the new legislative year, Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek will meet professors from the schools of law.

Turkey’s parliament is getting ready for a long and tiring process for the “New Constitution“.

The new legislative year will begin on October 1.

MPs will work to replace the 1982 Constitution with a new one during the new legislative year.

Prior to the beginning of the new legislative year, Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek will meet professors from the schools of law.

Twenty-seven professors were invited to the meeting on September 19. 24 of them will be in attendance at the gathering.

Meanwhile, a new web-site “www.Yenianayasa.gov.tr” including all constitutions to this date, amendments, proposals by political parties, vocational organizations and non-governmental organizations, constitutions of the other countries and comments about the new constitution, will be prepared. People will be able to explain their views about the new constitution through the web-site. After being analyzed by experts, those views will be conveyed to the parliament speaker and members of the relevant parliamentary committees.
Experts at the parliament have already begun working on constitutions of 60 different countries in five continents from Europe to Asia, from Africa to America.

After opening of the new legislative year, Parliament Speaker Cicek will call on all political parties having seats at the parliament to name two deputies to be charged in
the Committee for Constitutional Compromise.

The committee will also listen to views of non-governmental organizations.

At least one third of the total number of MPs (184) is required to propose a constitutional amendment.

The proposal will be debated by the Parliamentary Constitution Committee first. Then, the general assembly will debate it.

Three fifth of the total number of MPs (330) is required to amend the Constitution in a secret voting.

If a referendum is held for the new constitution, votes of more than half of voters are required.

AA

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Legal Resource Center > NGO Law Monitor >Turkey

Turkey

Introduction | At a Glance | Key Indicators | International Rankings
Legal Snapshot | Legal Analysis | Reports | News and Additional Resources

Download PDF Version
Last updated 28 July 2011

Introduction

Turkey has a vibrant civil society with civil society organizations (CSOs) working in numerous areas. Since officially becoming an EU candidate country in 2003, Turkey has implemented a series of reforms that promote democratization, including reforms to its basic framework laws affecting civil society. Turkey still operates, however, under the 1982 Constitution, which was written immediately following a military coup; although there are basic guarantees of rights and freedoms, the Constitution is not up to the standards found in developed democracies. The state still has a dominant influence over society.

Up until 2004, when a new Associations Law was enacted in Turkey, the autonomy of the Turkish CSOs was fairly restricted. The new Law was viewed positively by both civil society and the EU. It lifted some of the limitations on civil society. Listed below are some of the key improvements contained in the Law (see TUSEV’s website (www.tusev.org.tr)):

  1. Associations are no longer required to obtain prior authorization for foreign funding, partnerships or activities.
  2. Associations are no longer required to inform local government officials of the day/time/location of general assembly meetings and no longer required to invite a government official/commissary to general assembly meetings.
  3. Audit officials must give 24 hour prior notice and just cause for random audits.
  4. Associations are permitted to open representative offices in other countries.
  5. Security forces no longer allowed on the premises of associations without a court order.
  6. Specific provisions and restrictions for student associations have been entirely removed.
  7. Children from the age of 15 can form children’s associations.
  8. Standards relating to internal audits have been improved to ensure accountability of members and management.
  9. Associations are able to form temporary platforms/initiatives to pursue common objectives.

Subsequently, in 2008, Turkey adopted a Foundations Law, which further improved the legal environment. Today Turkish CSOs are more active than they have ever been before and are more aware of the deficiencies within the law that limit their activities. Future reforms are both necessary and inevitable.

 

 

for a new Turkey

The coup era is over. This historic vote shows we are ready to join the club of advanced democracies

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Supporters of Turkey’s ruling party the Justice and Development Party (AKP) celebrate election victory. Photograph: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

the 12 June general election constitutes one of the most important milestones in the history of Turkey’s democracy. For the first time since the beginning of the multiparty system in 1946, a political party has won three consecutive elections, each time increasing its vote. This shows that democracy and democratic institutions in Turkey are firmly established.

In power since the 2002 election, the AK – Justice and Development – party has struck a balance between democratisation, economic progress and an active foreign policy. By giving the party 50% of the votes in the 12 June election, Turks confirmed their belief in this model of development and stability .

Coming after three military coups since 1960, democratisation and civilisation have not been easy in our country. Turkish politics has been marred by the violation of basic rights and freedoms, undemocratic and illegal organisations, a parliamentary system under military tutelage, and a national security concept that considers its own citizens suspect.

Turkey has now left the coup era behind. We will continue to combat forces that favour coups and have not fully embraced democracy or pluralist rule in order to reach the standards of the world’s advanced democracies. The bold, decisive leadership of the AK party in this area has received the full support of Turkish citizens.

The reform packages enacted for our EU membership, together with the constitutional amendments of the referendum on 12 September 2010, have played a key role in this transition. The AK party’s third term is a historic opportunity for Turkey to be a constitutional state with a fully fledged advanced democracy – a prerequisite for EU membership.

In order to achieve its goal, Turkey needs to write a new constitution. Our current constitution, written in the wake of the 1980 military coup and adopted in 1982, does not suit Turkey’s goals for 2023, the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. A constitution that protects the individual rather than the state, and promotes freedom and democracy rather than security, is a necessity for the 21st century.

The AK party’s priority will now be to seek the widest possible consensus for the new constitution and the rights and freedoms of all citizens – something that Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, other AK party officials and I have consistently made clear. We have pledged this to the people and called on the opposition parties to help. We also invite non-governmental organisations, universities, the business world, bar associations and various experts to take part in this process. We have absolute faith in all members of the nation embracing the constitution as a fundamental text.

One of the unfair, and unfounded, criticisms levelled at our government concerns freedom of the press. Pointing to the journalists detained under the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) cases and claiming that the government has suppressed dissident voices amount to twisting reality. People were detained as a result of these investigations not because they were discharging their duties as reporters, but under the charge of plotting a coup against the government. In this legal process, the involvement of the government is out of the question. However, we regret the long periods of detention necessitated by these cases and hope that the trials are speedily concluded.

Today there are many publications in Turkey that oppose the government. For example, books full of insults directed at our president and our prime minister are sold in shops. Some claim that they are really Jewish or Armenian. Moreover hundreds of national and local newspapers and other media outlets utter every day the most violent threats towards the government every day. None of these have been banned or prosecuted.

Fresh from a third mandate from the people, the AK party is open to all kinds of co-operation and reconciliation. A modern, civilian, participatory constitution will be the most important step for the new Turkey – a constitution that will guarantee the fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens regardless of their religion, language and ethnic origin; and that will end the period of illegal, undemocratic organisations and activities.

It is our pledge to the Turkish people and the world that a new constitution will usher in a new era for a fully functioning democracy in Turkey.

26 Eylül 2011

AK Parti davet mektubu gönderdi

AK Parti, CHP ve MHP’ye yeni anayasa için davet mektubu gönderdi.

İktidar partisinin Meclis’te grubu bulunan partilere gönderdiği davet mektuplarına ilk cevap MHP’den geldi. İki parti arasında Çarşamba günü saat 11.00’da görüşmeler yapılacak.

Amnesty Calls on Turkey to Protect its LGBT Citizens

 Amnesty International is urging Turkey to enshrine constitutional protections for its LGBT citizens in the country’s new constitution.

Currently no discrimination protections exist for LGBTs in Turkey. Indeed, the law does not even provide a framework through which discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity might be determined.

Next month, Turkey’s government will begin drafting a long-awaited new constitution designed, according to Prime Minister Erdogan, to protect “everyone’s life-style, belief, language, culture and ideas.” But, Amnesty International warns, that’s not quite true as the rights of Turkey’s LGBT community will not be included.

In a country where homophobia and transphobia is institutionalized, where violence against LGBTs is frequent and often goes unpunished by police, where the army still classes homosexuality as an illness, and where transgender people face being denied even basic health care, this is unacceptable.

You can learn more about the problems facing Turkey’s LGBTs in the Amnesty International video below (if you have trouble reading the small captions, click here to view the video in a larger format):

This paper was the topic of an interdisciplinary symposium held in March 1999 at YeshivaUniversity, Cardozo Law School, New York.  The symposium was moderated by David Golove, Professor of Law, CardozoLawSchool. Panelists Thomas Christiano, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona and Gregory Fox, Professor of Law at Yale Law School, focused on the philosophical paradox involving the banning political parties to protect democracies; William Pfaff, International Affairs Columnist at International Herald Tribune and Paul Magnarella, Professor of Law and Anthropology at the University of Florida focused on the democratic process and human rights violations in Turkey.  (For the commentaries at the symposium, please click here).
  

CANNIBAL DEMOCRACIES, THEOCRATIC SECULARISM: 

THE TURKISH VERSION 

 

© Edip Yuksel*, J.D.

7 Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law, 423 (1999)

 

I.  INTRODUCTION   

TŸrkiye (FN1)  boasts to be the only Muslim country that is ruled by democracy (FN2).   However, the Turkish version of democracy differs greatly from traditional Western notions of democracy and is also further distinguished by its unique and even odd practice of secularism.  During the last half-century, the Turkish Constitutional Court (FN3) and the military regimes have banned more than thirty political parties.  While there is no sign that their appetite to ban political parties has been quelled, such repressive political actions have become routine practice in “protecting the Turkish democracy.”  Indeed, any argument that such actions are justified to protect the “Turkish democracy” is oxymoronic at best, and has lost credibility with the recent ruling by theTurkish Constitutional Courtallowing the abolishment ofTurkey’s largest political party, the Refah or Welfare Party (FN4).  

In a lengthy draft opinion to theTurkish Constitutional Court, Vural Savas, the Attorney General of theTurkishRepublic, attacked the Welfare Party (Refah Partisi) and its members on ideological grounds (FN5).   Surprisingly, Savas, as a top official of the so-called “secular” republic,  harshly criticized, blamed and condemned the sacred book of Islam and the religion of ninety-eight percent of the country.  Months after the publication of his aggressive opinion, theTurkish Constitutional Courtabolished the Welfare Party for trying to establish a theocratic system inTurkey.  

This paper will address the opinion of the Attorney General, as it reflects the ideology of the Turkish elite, and will evaluate the decision of theConstitutional Court, reported onFebruary 22, 1998in the T.C. Resmi Gazete (FN6).   This paper will conclude with  suggestions and remedies.  The procedural details involved with the workings of the Turkish Constitution are beyond the scope of this paper (FN7).  

Attorney General Vural Savas’ opinion suffers five primary flaws:  

1. Abolishment of the Welfare Party demonstrates that the oligarchy (consisting of major media, businessmen, and military leaders) uses “democracy” only if and when it serves its interests.  

2.  Abolishment of the Welfare Party increases the risk of hurlingTurkeyinto an Algerian-like civil war.  With the Welfare Party no longer intact, opportunities for the dissemination of propaganda from underground organizations and religious orders striving to establish “sharia” (sectarian jurisprudence) by means of force will be created. Turkeycannot endure the possible civil strife this may bring, especially with the already volatile situations existing in regions heavily populated by the Kurdish minorities who oppose the racist and militarist policies of the Turkish government.  Neither the Turkish economy nor its military can survive such a widespread conflict on two fronts.  

3.  The Constitution is procedurally illegitimate and infected with substantial contradictions.  It was imposed upon the people through a non-democratic process, and by non-elected generals.  It contains articles that contradict the principles of “modern democracy,” even though the Turkish judiciary, its legislators, and the members of the military coup often refer to the notion of “modern democracy” when justifying their actions.  The Constitution, infected by hero-worship and cults of personality, resembles the constitutions of communist and theocratic regimes.  It contains dogmas and imposes unnecessary limits to personal and group liberty.  

4. The Attorney General’s actions contradict the principles of “secularism.” Aggressive attacks on the Quran (FN8) by an official of a “secular” state who is paid by the taxes of its citizens is contrary to secularist ideals.  Indeed, secularism is altogether different from atheism, and the actions of governments should follow non-religious legal authority rather than atheistic ideals.  

5. The Attorney General’s criticisms of the Quran are based on erroneous interpretations of its text (FN9).  

II.  THE CONSTITUTION OF THE TURKISH REPUBLIC  

In late 1982, the current Constitution of theTurkishRepublicwas put on the ballot (FN10).   This was the third constitution for the young Republic in sixty years, and much likeTurkey’s constitutions of the past, it was drafted under the supervision of its military leaders (FN11).   The Constitution, allegedly approved by a super-majority of voters, however falls far behind Ataturk’s (FN12) dream of being a vehicle by which Turkey would catch up with “modern civilization.” Some learned criticisms ofTurkey’s Constitution note that the document lacks political legitimacy and that it was made primarily to preserve the state, not to promote the welfare of its people.  

Ersin Kalaycioglu, Professor of Political Science atBogaziciUniversity, criticizesTurkey’s last two constitutions, the Constitutions of 1961 and 1982, and asserts that they “were both designed without the full participation or cooperation of all the major political forces in the country.  Thus, they contributed mainly to a crisis of political legitimacy.”  (FN13)Turkey’s current Constitution, however, is more restrictive of individual and group rights than its predecessor (FN14).  

Suna Kili, Professor of Political Science atBogaziciUniversity, finds the Constitution of 1982 aimed “fundamentally at the preservation of the state.” (FN15)  

Professor Kili notes that “under Article Fifteen [of the Turkish Constitution], the declaration of a state of emergency is a reason for the suspension of rights and freedoms. . . . Thus, the Constitution of 1982 allows for the restriction and/or suspension of rights and freedoms by administrative acts.” (FN16)  Professor Kili also  heavily criticizes a procedural provision in Article 153:  
  

Given this provision, laws and freedoms may remain in force for up to one year after they have been ruled unconstitutional. Moreover, the Constitution of 1982 deprives the Constitutional Court of the power to review those decrees which carry the force of law issued by the cabinet during a state of emergency, martial law, or war. (FN17)

A.  Theocratic Dogmas and Logical Fallacies in the Turkish Constitution (FN18)  

Article 1 of the Turkish Constitution very simply and beautifully states that: “TheTurkishStateis a Republic.”  However, later squeezed among the beautiful words of the Constitution is the name ‘Ataturk.’ the founder general of theTurkishRepublic.  Ataturk, the charismatic leader who led a series of revolutions in the 1920s and 1930s that changed the direction ofTurkeyfrom a medieval theocratic monarchy to a modern secular republic, was so popular that he succeeded in changing the alphabet of the entire nation.  

However, allusions to national heroes and founding fathers (no matter how popular they may be) in a country’s constitution is a characteristic of a totalitarian and theocratic regimes.  For instance, the names of Marx and Lenin can be found in Article III of Albania’s pre-1991 constitution.  In the preamble toChina’s constitution, one can find the name of Mao Tse Tung in addition to the names of Marx and Lenin within its text.  InSaudi Arabia’s constitution, the Saudi family is praised, and in the preamble toIran’s constitution, Khomeini is praised.  Indeed, no developed country with an established democracy has the names of its founding fathers or heroes in the text of its constitution (FN19).  

While official religions and dogmas created in the name of national heroes may not be sufficient to explain why those countries are not among democratically civilized nations, they do provide a clue in that regard. Turkey, by placing Ataturk’s name in the Constitution, has created a sacred dogma in his name and has thereby made Ataturk’s name a symbolic trademark of the Turkish militarist and racist oligarchy.  

Article 4 poses a logical problem. The article lists the un-amendable articles but fails to include itself among the list.  The required majority of the members of the Congress may change Article 4, however unlikely that may be.  Indeed, publically voicing such an intention under Turkish law could lead to the denial of liberty and personal freedom under Article 27, “Freedom of Science and Art” of the Constitution.  Under the Constitution, such actions would be justified by the following clause in the Constitution:  The right to freedom of expression cannot be used to promote amendments to Articles 1, 2 and 3 of the Constitution (FN20).  

B.  The Prohibited Language  

Articles that supposedly grant the freedom of expression and protect the press against censorship, contain clauses justifying prohibition of speeches, periodicals or literature written in Kurdish (FN21).  For example, Article 26 of the Turkish Constitution states:  “No language prohibited by law shall be used in the expression and dissemination of thought.” (FN22)  Article 28 states that “[p]ublication shall not be made in any language prohibited by law.” (FN23)  

While no other articles referring to “prohibited languages” in the constitutions of any other country come to mind, ironically, the expression “language prohibited by law” is mentioned under articles which are entitled with the word “freedom.”  The freedom of prohibiting the language of an oppressed minority, as it appears, is what the Turkish Constitution protects. (FN24)  

Admittedly, all of the prosecutors do not share the same mentality.  There are government attorneys who have digested the principles of democracy and are promoters of freedom and civil rights for individuals.  Nevertheless, a single prosecutor is enough to issue an arrest warrant and drag an author to court.  Similarly, despite many high ranking military officials who are against the military’s intervention in domestic politics, a gang of top generals can flirt with politicians, give orders, and overthrow the government.Turkeyhas witnessed three military coups d’etat and several military warnings since its formation in 1923 (FN25).  

C.  Other Repressive Articles  

Article 2 of the present Constitution exemplifies the official mentality of the  totalitarian regime and Article 4 exhibits the poor judgment of its drafters.  Surprisingly, the Constitution contains articles explaining the goals and duties of the state and the rights and freedoms of citizens.  However, in the articles where the Constitution details the use of individual rights and freedoms, it takes back the granted rights in the articles or paragraphs that follow.  The Constitution does not use impolite, rude, or unpolished language.  The style of the Constitution does not resemble that of the neighborhood bully.  Rather, the Constitution employs clever and adept linguistic techniques while restricting individual rights and freedoms, techniques that are well-known by copywriters of advertising agencies.  It pours acid on the roots of rights and freedoms while it appears to be showering the citizens with numerous rights and freedoms. Article 13 illustrates how the rights and freedoms given by spoon can be taken away by ladle in a civilized manner (FN26).   Articles 26, 27 and 28 define those ladles.  Articles 33 and 34 under the guise of bestowing citizens with rights and freedoms, empower the state with arbitrary censorship and prohibition (FN27).  

The states that turn their constitutions to prohibitions grow to be cannibal or vampire democracies.  Political parties are sacrificed on the whims of the oligarchy.  Many totalitarian and theocratic regimes use their constitutions to show off or to fool the international community, and they systematically violate human rights which they had agreed to observe. In states with working democracies, on the other hand, constitutions impose minimum limitations on the individual and group rights and freedoms; they aim to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majorities (FN28).   While all constitutions reflect the ideal goal, the constitutions of democratic countries do not enforce taboos and dogmas attributed to their heroes or founding fathers; they provide protection for ideas that are unorthodox or perceived as infidel or unpatriotic.  In this regard, the Turkish Constitution is far behind the constitutions of countries labeled as “Western.” For example, if one were to compare the Turkish constitution to that ofSwitzerlandor even ofMongoliaand their practice of democracy, one will find that the Turkish one lacks the color and spice of true democracy (FN29).

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