The Turkish government is cracking down on civil liberties in the wake of violent Kurdish protests against government policy in Syria—but the proposed changes in law changes are not limited to the Kurds or to the current situation. A bill has been advanced in Parliament that would apply to both the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK). According to the Hurriyet Daily News, it would, among other things, strip Turkish criminal defendants of the following rights:
• The current CMK’s article on search warrants for a suspect or defendant includes the requirement that there be “strong suspicion based on concrete evidence.” The planned amendment changes the criterion of “reasonable doubt based on concrete evidence.”…• The defendant will not be permitted to review the contents of case files or make copies of documents if a judge, upon the request from the public prosecutor, decides that it would jeopardize the aims of the investigation.• Crimes requiring wiretapping will be expanded and crimes committed against the state such as disrupting the unity and integrity of the state, collaborating with the enemy, provoking war against the state, acting against fundamental national interests, destroying military facilities, acting in agreement in favor of an enemy state’s military forces, recruiting soldiers against a foreign power, conspiring to the advantage of enemy military movements, providing material and financial aid to an enemy state, committing crimes against the constitutional order in ways such as violating the Constitution, committing crimes against the legislative body, staging armed insurrections against the government and founding an organization to commit such crimes will all be added into the related article.
The laundry-list style and sheer breadth of these justifications creates borderline all-encompassing laws, and comes straight out of the 20th-century dictator’s playbook. Similarly, the state would now be allowed to seize money and property on the basis of nonviolent, politically-related offenses such as “crimes against the government” and “violations of the Constitution.”The news comes on the heels of increased indications that Erdogan is determined to take advantage of ISIS’ advance to crush more hard-lined Kurdish factions and impose a peace on his own terms.Erdogan looks to be combining caliph-like ambitions with 20th-century European dictatorship tactics. The old saying about Turkey being half in Europe, half in the Middle East may be coming true in the worst way.