Friday, July 23, 2010

TESEV suggests Constitutional reforms

Friday, July 23 2010
güncelKurdish Info - A new report from the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) suggests more radical reforms than those in the reform package are necessary to solve the ongoing Kurdish problem. “Towards the solution of the Kurdish Problem: Constitutional and Legal Suggestions,” written by Dilek Kurban and Yılmaz Ensaroğlu with aid of 17 experts, suggested alternatives for every law they argued should be changed.
In the foreword section, Etyen Mahçupyan, Director of TESEV Democratization Program, argued: “Building citizenship on Turkishness has degraded the concept of the Republic of Turkey to a Turkish state. The understanding of the indivisibility of the state resulted in no cultural identity apart from Turkishness being perceived by the state with the basis of equality.”

The TESEV report itself argued the references to Turkish identity in many laws and constitutional articles does not comply with the multi-ethnical structure of Turkey.

The most radical suggestion brought by the report is that the first three articles of the constitution be changed. The articles of the constitution however, “cannot be changed; changing them cannot even be suggested,” according to the fourth article.

The report pointed out that many articles of the constitution have several references to the “Turkish motherland and nation,” the “supreme Turkish state,” “Turkish history,” “Turkish culture” and “Turkish Language” which should not be included in a new constitution. The report underlined that for the constitution to have unchangeable articles conflicts with the principles of democratic governance and the mention of “loyalty to Atatürk nationalism” in the second article is not a universal value but reference to an ideology. Four alternatives were suggested to the first three constitutional articles in the report alongside other alternatives for other articles.

Apart from the constitution, the laws for political parties and the ways deputies are elected are considered to need changing to contribute to the solution of the Kurdish problem. The 43rd, 81st, 82nd, 101st and 103rd articles of the law for political parties should immediately be changed, according to the report, which defined the whole of the law as “incompatible with the principles of democracy and the law state.”

The 301st article of the Turkish Penal Law on “insulting Turkishness” is not the only one preventing freedom of speech in Turkey, according to the report. In fact many politicians and local administrators have been and still are on trial according to the 216th, 220th, 222nd, 314th and 318th articles. The 318th article refers to “alienating the public from the military” and any comment that criticizes the Turkish Military is considered in this light.

The Anti-Terror Law, or TMK, protects the security of the state at the expense freedom and the security of individuals, the report argued, adding: “Although a series of betterments were made in the TMK since 2002, when the EU reforms process started the changes in 2006 turned [the process] backwards.” The report indicated the TMK brings punishment to actions already determined in the Penal Law but with higher penalties, and argued it should be eliminated completely.

The report also says education law should also be changed, because it currently only reflects “the ideological and monist education understanding of the state.” The law on provincial governance has been the basis of changing the Kurdish names of many locations, as the surname law and the alphabet law prevent the Kurds from the free speech of their language, according to the report.