Violation of Freedoms and Judges in Turkey

Sometimes the voice of the president, who cannot be silenced, is one of the few that resound freely to recall the principles and values that are assumed to be typical of Europe. Holding a lecture at one of the Istanbul universities that offered him an honorary degree, the President of the European Court Robert Spano began by saying that he accepted that honour not only because it was a protocol moment, never refused in any member state of the Council of Europe, but also because the ceremony gave him the opportunity to underline the importance of academic freedom and freedom of expression in a democracy governed by the rule of law.

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Stay Away from Using your Constitutional Rights

The Academics for Peace Petition is a petition signed by over 2,200 academics in and outside Turkey in 2016. It became, however, more than a simple petition. This collection of signatures put in motion mass criminal proceedings, job dismissals and many other forms of administrative and social sanctions against hundreds of academics in Turkey. This reaction is unprecedented in terms of scale and effects in contemporary times.

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Attacking the Bar Associations

In the midst of pandemic, thousands of attorneys-at-law in Turkey have spent days and nights for almost two weeks to protest a bill that prescribes amendments in the Advocacy Law. The bill would reduce the representation of (generally progressive) lawyers from Turkey’s big cities in the national Union of Turkish Bar Associations and furthermore allows setting up new bar associations. It is feared that this might be used to weaken the existing strong bar associations that have repeatedly criticized the government in the past on matters concerning human rights and the protection of the rule of law.

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A March in the Night

The annual Feminist Night March in Istanbul has been the most cheerful, vivid and peaceful demonstration of Turkey’s civil society since 2003 – dspite the venue restrictions imposed by the government and the use of tear gas during the marches of 2019. Complementing the discussions on the endurance and containment of civic activism, the recent Gezi Park and Kavala cases are conducive for understanding the relationship between human rights defenders and autocratic legalism.

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Why the Turkish Constitutional Court’s Wikipedia Decision is No Reason to Celebrate

The Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC) recently lifted the ban on Wikipedia and a surge of, in my view, unwarranted optimism has now sprung out of nowhere both among international and Turkish circles following the case closely. I fail to share this optimism. By all means, the lifting of the ban on Wikipedia is something to be happy about. But the timing and content of the TCC’s decision, when especially read through the political context in which it was handed down, do not give much reason to celebrate.

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