Absolute Impunity and Single-Type Uniform Imposition

It has been known that we are against any kind of coup d’état or coup d’état attempts which mean complete denial of democracy and disregarding fundamental rights and freedoms. Within this scope, we shared our clear attitude towards the coup d’état attempt in 15 July 2016. We have constantly emphasized and we continue to emphasize that problems in democracy and human rights cannot be eliminated through mentality and laws of the era of military coup d’état.

Unfortunately, 30 Decree-Laws issued under State of Emergency until now and practices of political power based on these decrees in daily life reinforces our concern with each day passing by. Over 300 laws were permanently amended with these Decree-Laws and a new order of State of Emergency was established as if State of Emergency will never end.

Two Decree-Laws  issued on 24 December 2017, one containing 7 articles and the other containing 137 articles that affect our social lives directly and include detailed and highly damaging regulations in reorganizing the state, should be evaluated as a whole.

Nevertheless, we would like to share our opinions regarding two regulations which are directly related to reasons for our existence as human rights organizations and which belong to the Decree No. 696 that need to be considered as a whole, along with our call for abandonment of such attempts immediately.

1.Granting impunity to civilians who have acted within the framework of suppressing the coup attempt on 15 July 2016 and terrorist actions that followed it in its aftermath pursuant to Article 121 of the Decree-Law No. 696 which is highly ambiguous and clearly against the Article 15 of the Constitution regulating rights that cannot be restricted even in a state of emergency is the declaration of termination of the conception of state of law completely, in other words, removal of our being as a democratic and modern state and society. Moreover, we would like to remind one more time that liabilities of those who have caused torture and other human rights violations during this process cannot be eliminated by any means even if they hold an official title, let alone civilians. The practice of the government violating the Constitution should not encourage anyone.

Connivance has been generalized by joining civilians to the State monopoly on violence which is protected through immunity according to regulations in the latest decrees. Therefore, “vigilant” civilian masses who are government partisans will try to “punish” not only political opponents but also people and behaviors that they consider socially or morally “deviant” arbitrarily with some kind of vigilantism (performing the right and law in person) and they will be protected with the shield of immunity. This situation makes lynching culture a permanent method of State of Emergency by legalizing/legislating it. The more desperate thing is that polarization of the society created by political worries and interests until today will be deepened, the country will be dragged into chaos where everyone commit violence against each other and citizens’ right to live will not be guaranteed anymore.

2. According to Article 103 of the Decree-Law No. 696, individuals arrested or convicted of crimes against Anti-Terror Law will have to wear single-type uniforms when they are transferred outside the prison for their trials.

As we mentioned in our position paper regarding single-type uniform imposition to inmates that we shared with public opinion, even a little research is sufficient to understand that inmates forced to wear single-type uniforms in prison face a dishonorable punishment.

Single-type uniform can be transformed into a facilitating mediator of any kind of violence against the inmate. In addition, when an inmate rejecting single-type uniform resists to wear this uniform, physical and moral violence can be committed against the inmate. History of prisons in Turkey and in the world is full of such examples.

Article 101 of the Decree Law No. 696 also regulates that the inmate will receive disciplinary punishment and will not be allowed to have visitors if he refuses and resists to wear single-type uniform. As seen, we are facing a highly serious situation which will result in elimination of visibility of violations that can be happened in this process which is incompatible with human dignity and which isolates people.

Forcing inmates to wear single-type uniforms will result in violation of right to a fair trial. In the event that inmates refusing to wear single-type uniforms do not want to wear them even if they are forced by actions against prohibition of torture, they will not be brought to the court and their right of defense will be violated.

Such regulation of single-type uniforms in this manner means stigmatization of inmates in society and condemning them to invisibility as well as being imposition to society and being a behavior to infuse monotype into society.

Single-type uniform is desired to be transformed into a means of symbolic, formal, political attack against individuals non-conforming to political preferences of political powers. Single-type uniform which is a symbol of violence is one of the most visible expressions of political power’s authority established in individuals and shown to the entire society. In that sense, it is a punishment imposed not only on inmates but also the entire society and a behavior to infuse monotype.

In conclusion, Decree-Law No. 696 issued under the State of Emergency demonstrates that there is no limit in the conception of arbitrary regime. Pursuant to Article 121 of the Constitution and internal regulation of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the decree-laws should be negotiated and approved by Parliament within 30 days at the latest. Unfortunately, political power violated the Constitution by getting the approval of Parliament for only 5 out of 28 Decree-Laws issued before the latest two Decrees. Therefore, these regulations must be subjected to judicial review and State of Emergency must be lifted.

Now, we invite the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to use its constitutional authority and negotiate and reject the Decree-Law No. 696  against this latest grave and worrisome development for the fate of our country. In addition, we call all the sensitive public opinions to show their reactions to prevent lynching culture to become an ordinary method of the State of Emergency.