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by GREYDOG

Midnight Raids Rock Turkish Police Force

10:31 am in Uncategorized by GREYDOG

Posted by snakearbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

Police riot shield

Turkish police are under fire for corruption.

A not-so-secretive home-raiding operation was unleashed just days after the Gulenist movement’s newspapers started revealing statistics of the AKP government’s increasing trade with the Israeli government despite the anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli rhetoric that is prevalent in the AKP party. The operation is taking place only two hours after Erdogan appeared on a TV show saying, “It’s time for a cleaning now.” This sentence was the start of an operation that spread to 22 cities into the morning.

At 2:00 AM on July 22nd, Turkey experienced yet another “first time” in its history, and contrary to the permitted rules of home-raiding operations and arrests, hundreds of doors were knocked on in the middle of the night and arrests began. According to the penal code, house searches and arrests can only be made between 5:00 AM and 11:00 PM. However, in exceptional cases when the operation is led by the Organized Crime and Terrorism Taskforce, home raids on high-level suspects can be carried out at unorthodox times.

At this very moment, hundreds of homes are being raided as this article is being written. Police officers and police chiefs are being arrested, including the ones who participated in the home-raiding operations and operations against the secret service officers who were also involved in the corruption probe investigation against the government ministers, prime minister, and their sons. Another group of police officers are allegedly the ones who uncovered secret Iranian cells operating in Turkey, especially Tawhid-i Salam (linked to Quds Forces/Jerusalem Army).

The charges against the police officers include espionage and forging legal documents that led to the corruption probe being prepared in the last two years. The same accusations had been made against Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) officers after another nighttime raid was carried out on May 31^st against TIB. After the December 17 and 25 corruption probe arrests of dozens of people related to government and business networks, Erdogan had said “we will raid their caves.”

The timing of the operation is also significant. The home raids are taking place just hours before Erdogan addresses the Parliament before it is dissolved for summer recess which, is the last time before presidential elections in August 2014. As the dawn breaks, the operation is spreading to other districts of Istanbul and several other cities. Government “Deepthroat” @fuatavni writes “psychological combat tools are being used to divert public perception right before the elections.” In social media, the operation has been likened to the“Night of the Long Knives” that happened 80 years ago in Nazi Germany.

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by GREYDOG

Turkish Government Goes Pirate: More Censorship & Surveillance Coming

5:59 am in Uncategorized by GREYDOG

Posted by snakearbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

Cartoon Erdogan holding a Twitter bird.

Since they can’t shut down social media, Turkey is going after Internet Service Providers next.

Due to legal obstacles in prohibiting social media shares from political dissidents in Turkey, the government has a new strategy: to act as internet pirates. Much different than the political pirate movement, Turkey will now try to hack into ISPs’ systems and surveil on users’ browsing/sharing habits. With this aim, recently the internet watchdog has sent “secret orders” note to ISPs, to prepare necessary software infrastructure in order to detect the users that share unwanted content on social media platforms. Daily Taraf’s Tunca Ogreten’s article reveals government’s plans to intervene in internet users’ privacy and basic freedoms yet again.

The method to intervene in between the user agreement which secures privacy of the user regarding the service s/he signs up for, will hack into the HTTPS protocol and surveil on user habits. The government’s request from ISSs to establish a bug that will work as a spyware is planned to enable browsing all user behavior and data without his/her consent. This includes not only the content of social media updates a person shares but also the e-trade flow and all related data; and the system is planned to be open for immediate interventions.

ISPs will be declared Guilty, not the State

Taraf writes that an ISP manager who does not want to share his name states that s/he has tried telling the TIB authorities that HTTPS security protocol breach is unlawful and a crime but internet watchdog still wants to carry on with the spying plans. The blunt answer from TIB is “there are countries that are able to breach HTTPS traffic, figure it out and do the same.” ISPs state that this is going to be a major violation of human rights and will create security risks. However the strangest part may be that TIB does not install this system by its own; demands the private companies to do it. When it becomes possible to intervene in banking processes and millions of users’ accounts get drained, the internet watchdog that is probably after political surveillance and censorship, will not even be responsible for causing a crash in the economy. On the other hand, the internet regulations bill that is updated last January allows such applications as the law is not clear as to how state will block access to certain content.

Putting Students Under Pressure

Another new regulation regarding use of internet is prepared to put more pressure on the most vibrant protesting group in the country: the students. In a country where distribution of wealth is quite uneven, millions of students are urged to live in state-run dormitories, however with the new regulations if a student criticizes government policies or complains of the conditions of universities/dormitories that student will be kicked out of the place. In case of a mass protest at a university or a dormitory, the minister of youth will be allowed to close down the dormitories for a time the minister pleases.

The new regulations and preparations do not cite what methods will be used to surveil on students media, social media appearance. However in certain crowds there are parallels being drawn between real-time censorship, interventions and surveillance, and the recently revealed NetClean software purchase.

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by GREYDOG

Is Sweden Helping Turkey to Suppress Digital Freedoms?

6:42 am in Uncategorized by GREYDOG

Posted by snakearbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

Is the Gothenborg-based NetClean software as innocent as it is presented or is it used for silencing political dissent?

Since last year’s Gezi Park protests and protesters’ intensive use of social-media tools to organize and regroup, Turkey’s government has been taking steps – including a full ban – to discourage millions from using social media to spread political dissent and criticism of government policies.

Are Turkey’s notorious attempts to limit freedom of expression on the Internet adopting yet another powerful tool? This is the question that comes to mind when reading the news of the Swedish digital security company NetClean’s possible deal with the Turkish government. It was announced on a pro-government media outlet, Daily Sabah, that the government is to purchase the software for €40 million in order to combat “unwanted content” in the digital public space. As usual, the excuse given to cover the censorship is “child pornography.”

Since last year’s Gezi Park protests and protesters’ intensive use of social-media tools to organize and regroup, Turkey’s government has been taking steps – including a full ban – to discourage millions from using social media to spread political dissent and criticism of government policies. As all other forms of public space and media are under almost absolute control of the governing AKP, social-media platforms and the Internet still serve as the only tool citizens have to express themselves with a degree of freedom.

The head of the Turkish government, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, declared that Twitter was a “menace to society, to all societies,” upon which the government began seeking new ways to prevent the use of the platform for political criticism. The excuse presented was that “all kinds of immorality takes place there, families get separated; this is against the party’s conservative agenda.”

By definition, NetClean presents itself as a company working on software that aims to create a more secure society in the digital sphere by scanning, analyzing and blocking content. Moreover, its primary goal is supposedly to fight child pornography. The software is purchased by governments and ISPs around the world. Yet at what expense?

When one considers the world map of censorship and surveillance, it is not hard to guess which countries would be among the top buyers of this software. The software extends the effects of censorship a step further than WhiteBox initially did. WhiteBox is a software application based on URL blocking that allows users to browse content through filters, using DNS spoofing and ban lists of unwanted URLs. While WhiteBox can be used globally to combat child pornography, various governments have declared intentions to purchase even more advanced software to block content in real time.

In Turkey’s case, one has to remember Prime Minister Erdoğan’s approach to social media platforms, calling them a “source of immorality” and threatening to “eradicate twitter-mwitter all of them.” Moreover, it is important to remember that Turkey’s top general called social media “a threat to state order.”

Last December was a month of chaos for Turkey’s intelligence service. Not only did the intelligence service fail to prevent the spread of news of Turkey’s biggest corruption fiasco yet, but it also proved incapable of detecting the source of the information leak. The leaked sound recordings were allegedly of the Prime Minister’s phone calls with several people, asking for bribes and telling his son to hide the money before a police raid. Although Turkey’s top science institute declared that the sound recordings were a montage, sound/video clips continued leaking and circulating online for months.

Upon the intelligence service’s inability to combat such information leaks, the governing party AKP passed a controversial censorship bill in the parliament in February, allowing state officials to ban Web sites with a simple order, with no requirement of a court warrant or statement of a reason for the blocking. Although this action is in direct violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, the government has repeated its intention to block “unwanted content” and even remove it from the Web.

Currently Turkey leads the world in demands for removal of content from global digital corporations, even though in most cases these demands are in violation of freedom of expression or the right to acquire information. If the Turkish government showed more respect for democratic governance and human rights, perhaps use of this software would not have caused this level reaction from notable intellectuals, academics, NGOs and individual citizens. But censorship always seems to wear the mask of providing more security, while in fact stripping citizens of yet more liberties.

A question that needs to be answered is why Sweden, a country that claims to promote human rights and stand up for human dignity globally, has agreed to sell software that will obviously target political opposition in Turkey. Looking at current uses of censorship mechanisms in Turkey, it can be seen that content regarding Armenian newspapers, Kurdish political movements, LGBT rights and lifestyle, opposition parties’ Web sites and critical articles, anti-racist Web sites, etc. have been banned. One can’t help but wonder how many of these groups Sweden supports as a nation, yet will contribute to repressing in Turkey… Moreover, when one considers the fact that the company was founded with donations from Queen Sylvia of Sweden, the question arises of what statement Sweden’s royal head of state is making.

Lastly, it might make one issue very clear: Turkey is one of the top countries for censorship of pornography, yet also tops the charts for searches for porn content. The Turkish government cooperates with global allies to combat child pornography, yet unfortunately Turkey is the leading country when it come to searches for child porn. Obviously blocking access or applying censorship does not solve a sociological problem emerging from a mentality of prohibition in the country. If the Turkish government were sincere in protecting children, would it not be more useful to prohibit child labor and child marriage and imprison pedophile rapists rather than letting them go? When children are subjected to bullying and violence on the streets, in schools, and at home and are killed by policemen on streets, how sincere is the government’s attempt to implement a censorship policy with the excuse of combating child pornography when at the same time it declares political dissent illegal?

Many governments use the excuse of protecting children, but somehow the policy rapidly turns into a centralized structure of censorship and surveillance – a system of digital detention of citizens. While decentralization of the Internet is vital for the spread and defense of our liberties and knowledge as global citizens, governments’ policy of blocking access, removing content and censoring the Internet is the greatest obstacle to the advancement of democratic governance globally.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/ Read the rest of this entry →

by GREYDOG

Erdoğan Defends Full Ban On Social Media in Turkey

6:37 am in Uncategorized by GREYDOG

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

Recep Tayyip Erdogan - Caricature

Recep Tayyip Erdogan – Caricature

Erdoğan held his long-awaited Istanbul rally on Sunday, for which about a million people were bussed from other cities and districts of Istanbul. It was notable to see how public transport buses were used in organizing an AKP rally and how attendees at the event were well taken care of using public funds.

During his speech Erdoğan talked of the recent Twitter ban and gave signals of a new and more comprehensive ban on all social media, denying all allegations of corruption, election fraud, and breaches of international criminal law:

“No matter who might be, I am not listening! These companies called Twitter, YouTube, Facebook have destroyed families and family values. They have made up material, all kinds of lies. I can not understand how any sane person can defend these social media.

Twitter is not applying our court orders. Excuse my attitude but we are not a third-world country. All of them, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube will respect the laws of the Republic of Turkey. Just like they do to in the USA, China, Russia and England…

The media have started their attacks against us now. They call this intolerance… No matter who might it be; even if the world stood up against us, if there is something threatening my country I must take action. They talk of inexistent things like they have happened. Should I have let them go? Would you not take action? Is it not the reason why you have given us permission?

They [foreign powers] will stir up our country. You have seen what they have done in Gezi Park. You know what happened on December 17 [corruption probe]. So what? Should we stop?

They say, not everyone must think like Tayyip Erdoğan. But I don’t have to think like anyone else either. There is a will behind our government, we do as it sees fit. Telecommunications is under occupation in Turkey. All kinds of tricks happen. Courts do not close down those accounts.

Twitter is blocked because some brother went out tweeting disgusting information there about a sister. That person applied to courts, and they gave the decision to delete such content that has insults. TIB goes to Twitter to tell of this incident but they don’t listen. So we must take our precautions ourselves.

Twitter applies national law when it comes to England, Russia, Germany, China, India, but when it comes to Ukraine, Egypt and Turkey they call themselves ‘liberty.’

They insult Ataturk, swear at our holy values. Should we call this liberty and let it happen? Children get molested, there is racism; should we allow that? We will do all it takes, if not we will block them all! Turkey is not a banana republic.

Those who cry ‘but liberties are perishing,’ sorry… But we will fight against those who tapped our phones till the end. No one can infiltrate our privacy under the cover of liberty. They listen to everyone… These are criminals, they montage tapes, they dub conversations, they make up lies. No one can prosecute the Prime Minister like this! I can not even talk freely at home any more.

I don’t get what Twitter and such are […] If they will act honestly we will give all kinds of support. If they give up their immoralities we will support them. Otherwise, if they continue corrupting family values, they will have Turkey to deal with!”

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/
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by GREYDOG

Turkey: Erdoğan Swears to “Eradicate Twitter”

11:11 am in Uncategorized by GREYDOG

Editor’s Note: See also Turkey Keeps Tweeting Through Alternate DNS Servers on Bytegeist.

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

A statue of the Twitter bird rendered Frankenstein patchwork style

Can Erdogan ban Twitter?

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to “eradicate Twitter and their kind and end this breach of privacy and defamation” just hours before Twitter was banned in Turkey. An urgent court decision has been passed within the framework of several laws, one of which is an anti-terror law. The Telecommunications Institute has announced that the ban is directed against defamation, violation of privacy, and misinformation.

Since the Gezi Park protests of June 2013, there have been many court actions by the Turkish state against Twitter to force it to take down content, block access, and share information on users with the Turkish authorities. Twitter, unlike – according to Turkish authorities – other social media platforms (including Facebook), did not open an office in Turkey and complied with the Turkish court rulings.

In the last few months Turkey had strengthened censorship and surveillance laws and infrastructure and Erdoğan had already said that right after the elections all social media platforms would be banned completely. Moreover he had accused Twitter of collaborating in a coup against his rule in Turkey with the participation of a “robot lobby.”

Only minutes after the ban went into effect, a campaign started, calling people out on streets to protest against AKP. However it seemed very suspicious, since when one analyses the Twitter accounts of the people who write with the hashtag, it is mostly people who previously tweeted for the AKP and actually seem to be bot accounts owed by the party. As there have already been declarations that Erdoğan will do anything in order not to leave office, people had been warned that there would be provocations by the government to force people to take to the streets and turn violent, thus leading up to a situation when elections could be cancelled.

Already, Erdoğan has defied all kinds of election restrictions against his party, AKP, aimed at creating a more egalitarian atmosphere by not allowing any kind of exploitation of national symbols such as the flag or national anthem, or any kind of religious symbols which might lead to unequal terms before elections.

The most recent troublesome issues on social media in Turkey have been: an informant from Erdoğan’s close circle leaking secret information on how the government is corrupt and is going to try to rig the votes, former allies (especially Gülen’s Hizmet movement) declaring open criticism of the government on social-media platforms, leaked alleged phone conversations of government officials, ministers, the Prime Minister, and his family regarding corruption, insult to religious values, bribes, international arms trade to warring nations, violating sanctions on Iran, drug trafficking, etc., rumors regarding an upcoming sex tape of some government officials or another possible leak about death/killing of a nationalist political leader some years ago.

Erdoğan at his party’s rally today in Bursa:

We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic

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by GREYDOG

Turkey to Ban All Social Media

4:45 am in Uncategorized by GREYDOG

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

A statue of the Twitter bird rendered Frankenstein patchwork style

Will Turkey’s Erdogan ban social media?

Recently in an article, Gigi Alford wrote “Russia goes for gold in internet regulation,” and I was going to suggest that Turkey is a close runner-up. However Erdoğan made a comment that raised the hopes of “censorists” in Turkey for the top place in the Censor’Olympics – Russia being the biggest competition. In the past few weeks, we have suffered the adoption into law of two major draconian bills that allow government censorship and surveillance on society. But recent remarks by Erdoğan go well beyond that, talking of blanket censorship.

Already Turkey is a country of heavy regulations regarding expression of opinion, with surveillance mechanisms profiling and labeling citizens according to their ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds. However, as Erdoğan has revealed his true intentions, apparently there will be no more need for profiling and labeling people. Perhaps after an initial trial of a few weeks, the results were too scary; perhaps there was actually a great majority of the country who are discontented with the government and the only way to stop this discontent from spreading would be to shut down the Internet.

In a country that was declared “partly free” even before the Occupy Gezi protests of last year, with the new regulations, implementations, and intentions of the government, it seems as if Turkey will make it to the “not free” list and take the gold medal in the Censor’Olympics!

Here are Erdoğan’s own words regarding social media from last night’s TV interview where he declared his intentions to ban all social media platforms in the aftermath of local elections on March 30th, when mass protests are expected to take place and the National Security Council has already granted permission to declare martial law in case of widely spread mass protests in the country:

We are determined on this subject. We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook and other kinds [of social media]. We will take the necessary steps in the strongest way. That includes banning them. Because these corporations/institutions encourage all kinds of immorality, spying, and espionage in order to keep making profits. There are no limits [on social media]; freedom must not be understood in an unlimited sense. These people exist in all state institutions as well, but our initial step is to remove them from their administrative boards, because once they are gone the process will go smoothly to lower levels. Afterwards, the true meaning of fear will hold them captive! Then they will start wondering where they will flee to. When their leaders are gone, they will all feel the fear…

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by GREYDOG

Freedom of Assembly on Hold in Turkey

6:12 am in Uncategorized by GREYDOG

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

A large street protest in Turkey

A new law aims to prevent protest through impassable bureaucracy.

During the summer Turkey became famous for dawn raids on peaceful protests and sit-ins. Now, in a dawn operation, the AKP has passed another bill to prevent any future mass protests like Gezi Park. The “democratization package” bill will allow parties to run campaigns in languages other than Turkish and minor parties to get state funds if they pass a 3% threshold in elections. Yet the limitations it is imposing are great.

According to the new bill, anyone willing to organize a protest rally will need to consult with mayors, political parties, unions and syndicates, and then the local governor at the highest level will decide on the location and direction of the rally in the light of these consultations. Prior to the protest, the locations will be declared by the governor on local newspapers and websites. The new bill only allows protests to take place before sunset and all protests that do not disperse after sunset would be declared illegal.

While the government might want to prevent any future mass protests, this means that the right to assembly is on hold, since especially in wintertime, sunset is long before people get off from work. The limitation only allows weekends for protests to be organized, and then only at the place where the local governor (part of the apparatus of the Prime Minister) allows.

The organizing committee of the protests now “must” have a commissioner from the government body. And according to the new bill, police will be obligated to make visual recordings of protests and determine the identity of those attending. Although the bill states that this is only for security purposes, to find suspects in case of a crime, in a country where there is official profiling of citizens based on ethnicity, linguistic background, religious belief, and city of origin, this would only serve to further advance the surveillance state on the street after the infamous censorship bill and secret service bill.

The new bill also states that the moment a protest starts getting out of hand, the organizing committee will have to make a decision to disperse the crowds and notify the police chief of that decision. Again, the responsibility is placed on the organizing committee to declare to the crowd that the protest is over and that everyone should disperse.

In case the committee fails to carry out this “responsibility,” the police chief will notify the governor and give immediate orders – not in writing – to disperse the crowds. It is no secret what methods will be used to disperse them. This is yet another violation of human rights in Turkey.

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by GREYDOG

The Turkish Way of Avoiding Censorship

5:53 am in Uncategorized by GREYDOG

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

A hand extended, holding a compact disc

To get the word out about government corruption, the Turkish people are resorting to old-fashioned sharing.

Prime Minister Erdoğan, in his weekly address to his group in Parliament, defended the bills expanding censorship and surveillance by referring to the recently released tapes of phone conversations that revealed corruption at extreme levels. The scandalous phone conversation between the Prime Minister and his son can be accessed here.

Minutes after the phone conversation was uploaded on YouTube, people started downloading the video, and if they were unable to do that they started recording the voice on their phones. Only a few hours later, the original video was censored and in the morning it was not possible to browse to the exact URL of the tape.

The people who downloaded the video from YouTube, started uploading from different usernames and to other platforms as well. While the government was busy trying to accomplish Mission Impossible and censor the leaked phone conversation, people have found a new way of getting around censorship. Throughout the day, people have reported from all over the city that their cab driver put on an audio CD of the phone conversation when they took a cab, that some old gentleman on the bus shouted out “this is my debt to fellow citizens!” and turned on loudspeakers to broadcast the downloaded video, or that a lady on the ferry asked for the attention of all citizens who cared about the taxes they pay for the state’s services and used her phone’s loudspeakers to let everyone listen.

Before 24 hours had passed after the video was uploaded, 2.5 million people had viewed the original video and millions of others saw duplicates. And after work shifts at 7 p.m., at least 10 cities had mass protests calling for Erdoğan to resign. Police attacked with all the hatred they had towards peaceful protests, yet more and more people joined in. The Police may be the protector of the government, yet the people are furious to see one man calling his son to “melt the wealth” to avoid arrest, while citizens at home turn heaters down a bit more so they don’t spend everything they earn to pay the gas bill. Once this information is out there, there is absolutely no way of going back, as the people will find a way to spread this information.

When censorship aims for blanket coverage of information, other ways of spreading it emerge. People have reverted to Samizdat-style information sharing via Bluetooth on public transport, e-mail attachments, cassettes, and CDs. Censorship is a lost cause to begin with and in the end only helps the content reach more people.

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by GREYDOG

Turkey: “Pre-emptive Martial Law” for six districts of Ankara

5:10 am in Uncategorized by GREYDOG

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

Turkish Police patch

Police forces in Turkey preemptively crack down on potential protest

A court order has ruled that the police forces do not need any court warrants to carry out a full check on individuals they might suspect. The permit is originally applicable only during declarations of martial law to sustain public peace. Police chief of Ankara and vice-mayor had asked for an all inclusive “pre-emptive” permit last month and it has now been granted by an Ankara court.

The stated reason for police’s request was “to ensure national security and public peace, protect general health and general understanding of morality, as well as protecting citizens rights and liberties, and to prevent crimes, circulation of weapons or explosives that are banned from possessing or using, and to detect weapons and explosives”.

The permit concerns over 3 million citizens residing in central Ankara, and gives police the power to check and control the people, their personal belongings, vehicles and other possessions. The vagueness of the permit raises a lot of questions, such as, if the people will be granted their regular rights, like keeping silent or consulting their lawyers.

While this application will surely remind one of the infamous military coup days, which the  Turkish people are familiar with, it brings up a new term like “police coup” as the police forces enjoy a status which is above-the-law. They now have unlimited authority to harass and provoke people arbitrarily on the street. In a country where police violence has been a bleeding wound, this new pre-emptive permit will bring further trouble to already vibrant agenda in the country.

With a little more than a month until local elections, corruption scandal occupying the daily agenda with all its weight and newly approved censorship and surveillance bill, the streets seem to be the place that will decide on the future of the country; so the state officials are taking precautions to prevent any possible reaction against repression of rights and misuse of public funds.

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by GREYDOG

Turkey: An Atmosphere of Constant Police Pressure

5:35 am in Uncategorized by GREYDOG

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan

Turkish Riot Police

Police power continues to maintain an oppressive atmosphere in Turkey.

In an atmosphere where people on the streets feel an absolute presence of police on every corner, daily life in Istanbul already has its tense moments. When there is no intervention into protests, very Machiavellian tactics are being played. At Ege University in Izmir just a few days ago, some students reported on the social media that far-Right supporters came to the Faculty of Arts and that riot police followed them shortly after. Not long after, when other students began reacting to the far-Right slogans, riot police started an “intervention” which resulted in gas raids and water-cannon attacks against students who reacted to the far Right. At the end of the day there were arrests of faculty members, and more people protesting against the arrests. Although it does not receive as much coverage anymore, police brutality and harassment still continues in Turkey whenever there is even a small protest of a few dozen people. I would like to draw attention to a few recent incidents. Every day it is a university campus or again the infamous “interventions” on Taksim Square.

A day passed, and this time it was Bogazici University in Istanbul. The most beautiful campus on Earth could also be regarded as the most democratic atmosphere in Turkey, with its traditional tolerance and peaceful attitude. I remember Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit to the Bogazici University campus 2010, when thousands of riot police turned the campus into a hell, and this time for the first time in its history students were shot with water cannon at a protest meeting when leaving the campus. Riot police announced that “This is an illegal gathering, you do not have permission to walk this way.”

As the weekend came, with the pause between university working days, the new venue of police intervention happened to be a more familiar area –Taksim Square. Members of Besiktas’s Çarşı fan club – who played a major role in the OccupyGezi protests in June – were present at Kasimpasaspor Recep Tayyip Erdogan Stadium in the vicinity of Taksim for the Kasimpasa-Besiktas game. When Besiktas fans started marching to the venue, riot police and two water cannons followed them. After the game, they marched back to Besiktas escorted by police, who led peacefully up to a certain point when the police presence became too unbearable and provoking.

Another intervention took place in Gezi Park as the football game was being played. Since it was 15th December, the six-month anniversary of the death of half a dozen OccupyGezi protesters, about 20 people, including opposition members of Parliament, wanted to hold a commemoration ceremony in the park. But police announced “This is a highly sensitive spot where people are not allowed to gather without permission, so disperse the crowd or we will have to intervene.”

Although the park is officially open for public use, it is practically impossible. These kinds of protests, although originally they attract only a few dozen or hundred people, due to the police’s harsh treatment of protesters and interventions with excessive use of force they quickly grow into thousands. Police-state tactics revolve around every aspect of civilian life in a tense atmosphere where there is no strong political alternative to embrace the resentful people who are deeply hurt by the single-party rule (regime) of the last decade.

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