Turkey’s opposition vow to resist against Erdoğan’s intensifying oppression

The leaders of Turkish opposition parties have harshly reacted the Sunday government decree enforcing a one-color uniform on all prisoners across Turkey and also brought immunity and impunity for the civilian people and the public officials who have committed crimes during and after the controversial July 15, 2016 coup attempt, and they vowed defiance against what they called fascism and threats.

According to the government decree No.696, the brown jumpsuits will be worn by those allegedly “attempting to abolish the order of the Turkish constitution by using force and violence, to replace the order with another one or to prevent the implementation of order” and allegedly “attempting to undermine the Turkish government by using force and violence or prevent it from performing its duty, partially or completely.”

The gray jumpsuits, meanwhile, will be worn by those who “attempt to undermine the Turkish Grand National Assembly or prevent it from performing its duty partially or completely,” “armed rebellion against the Turkish government,” “assassination of and assault on the president,” “crimes against the security of the state” and “crimes against the constitutional order.”

The Art. 121 of Decree Law No. 696 also reads: “Regardless of their official duties, or appointments, any individuals who took part in suppressing the attempted coup d’état on July 15, 2016, terror acts, and other acts which are considered to be a continuation of these, will be subjected to the first clause [on immunity].”

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) imprisoned Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has slammed the latest government decree enforcing a one-color uniform on all prisoners across Turkey and stated that “We prefer to be wrapped in burial shrouds instead of kowtowing to fascism and wearing prison uniforms,” in a statement published by his party whose nine other lawmakers, 80 mayors, and thousands of members remain detained since last year.

“We will never accept governmental attempts to turn fascism into a permanent governance system through the state of emergency and decree laws,” he said.

Calling this new move a new form of “tyranny,” Demirtaş also stressed it was against universal principles, including the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. “We do not care whether coup plotters wear this or not. But we will never accept the dishonorable imposition that tens of thousands of political prisoners are equal to coup plotters,” he added.

With the new decree, 2,766 state employees including army and police officers, bureaucrats from various ministries, and directorates were fired over “posing a threat” to national security, adding to the purge of over 150,000 state servants so far.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu were “threatening” him. “Be careful. We will come after you, they say. If I stop talking, the price will be death. We shall keep quiet only after death,” Kılıçdaroğlu said during a public address in the city of Eskisehir.

He was referring to recent remarks by Erdoğan this month that CHP’s head could face courts and possibly the fate of Demirtaş over documents Kılıçdaroğlu brought to public attention, allegedly proving corruption the President and his family members were involved in.

Despite their shared dissent against what they view as an ever-increasing authoritarianism by Erdoğan, the two parties, CHP and HDP, lack a coherent stance to counter government policies in the run-up to the 2019 presidential, parliamentary, and local elections.

Erdoğan had said in mid-July 2017 that people detained over coup charges should wear a single outfit, like in Guantanamo. “When they appear in court, let’s make them appear in one-type uniform like in Guantanamo,” he said during an İstanbul rally to mark the first anniversary of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

Erdoğan’s proposal came only a week after one of the suspects on trial for an alleged assassination attempt against Erdoğan on the night of the failed coup was thrown out of the courtroom for wearing a T-shirt bearing the word “HERO” because it caused tension between the parties during the hearing. Any material bearing the word “HERO” has become suspicious leading to a series of detentions across Turkey. At least 42 people have been detained for wearing “HERO” T-shirts since last summer.

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Ahmet Yıldırım said on August 17, 2017 that the government made Gökhan Güçlü wear the hero T-shirt in order to impose identical uniforms on inmates.

A European Union spokesperson early September 2017 said reports of a government plan for suspects standing trial on coup charges in Turkey to wear identical uniforms were worrying. Underlining the significance of respect for the right to a fair trial and a commitment to a state of law, the EU spokesperson said: “The European Union has on many occasions stressed that any alleged wrongdoing or crime should be subject to due process and that the right of every individual to a fair trial needs to be respected, as well as the principle of the presumption of innocence.”

Former European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judge Rıza Türmen had said on August 2017 that obliging all suspects in ongoing trials concerning the failed coup to wear identical uniforms is against human rights and violates the right to a fair trial.

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