Unity for Democracy launched its ‘Turkey without State of Emergency’ campaign with a press conference in Istanbul on December 21. The meeting was attended by representatives of various NGOs, writers, historians, human rights advocates and a considerable number of press members. The opening statement spelled out the aim of the campaign, which is ‘to organize collective resistance to government’s attempts to dictate common values, interfere with lifestyles and restrict the freedom of citizens.’
Ex ECHR judge Riza Turmen was the keynote speaker, followed by Unity for Democracy’s Coordination Committee members İrem Afşin, Çelik Özdemir and Nesteren Davutoglu. The summary of their arguments is that the State of Emergency is being used to consolidate the ‘one man regime’ by paralyzing the parliament, the judiciary, and the democratic institutions of the country. The government increasingly employs it to silence the opposition and to disregard the system of checks and balances. The judiciary has lost its independence, corruption and unlawful practices have become rampant, the parliament can no longer act as a balancing force, public interests and citizen rights are ignored, and all opposition to the government is being silenced by arbitrary measures. However, the speakers emphasized that despite these authoritarian measures, sizable groups of the public are establishing effective networks against persecution and arbitrariness and that politics is being carried out of the parliament.
Unity for Democracy is one of these groups that aim to form genuine power alternatives based on trust and goodwill to fight the State of Emergency regime. The democratic popular opposition, i.e., local organizations, public forums, neighborhood assemblies, justice and democracy platforms and solidarity networks established on the internet are the main pillars of this network. The communication campaign started by Unity for Democracy aims to establish this extensive network.
Furthermore, it was pointed out that gathering information on the activities of various democratic groups and disseminating this information will lead to ‘a single and powerful voice.’ The use of social media, documentaries about the injustices of the State of Emergency regime based on real life stories, meetings in different cities, published statements, visual posters, activities of local citizen assemblies and the like will help spread the campaign to a wide range of circles. The call was to immediately end the State of Emergency — which has been extended five times thus far– before it becomes a new life standard for the country.
The press conference ended with a documentary film, ‘State of Emergency Wounds’, produced by Unity for Democracy, which portrayed real life stories of people from different segments of society who were directly affected by it. This documentary with English subtitles will be available on social media in the coming weeks.