Increased Police Powers in Turkey
According to a New York Times report, the Parliament in Turkey “passed one of its most contested pieces of legislation on Friday, a bill that broadens police powers and increases penalties for people participating in unauthorized demonstrations.” This was a law that was strongly backed by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP). As the New York Times explained, “Under the bill, the police will be permitted to use firearms against demonstrators who are armed with firebombs or other “injurious or similar weapons.” They will also be able to detain people for up to 48 hours to uphold public order. Protesters wearing masks or partly covering their faces will face up to five years in prison if they are deemed to be spreading “propaganda for a terrorist organization.””
This is a worrisome development in a Turkey that continues to move towards increased repression of citizen rights in the country. Of course it is critical to fight terrorism, but a law such as the one passed could easily be used by a government to oppress any non-violent type of protest against the state. Turkey has had a recent history of crackdown on protesters in 2013, for example. In addition, there have been tensions between Erdogan and news outlets, as well as between Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet movement.
Hopefully protests will continue against this law, and it will be revoked. It is critical to assure complete citizen voice, and this law, sadly, could easily be used to oppress individuals in civil society.