Political parties, NGOs, professional chambers and trade unions protest ban on actions in Van

Political parties, civil society organisations, professional chambers and trade unions came together to draw attention to the ban on protests and activities that has been going on for 1,809 days in Van.

Since the State of Emergency (OHAL) was declared on 21 July 2016, protests have not been allowed in Van for 1,809 days. A meeting was held at the Van Bar Association Tahir Elçi Conference Hall and was attended by many political parties, civil society organizations, professional chambers and trade unions in Van to react to the ban on protests and activities imposed by the Van Governor's Office. The ban has been in place for 5 years.

Van Bar Association President Zülküf Uçar spoke on behalf of the Van Democracy Platform at the meeting, which the AKP and the MHP did not attend. Uçar said that the ban imposed on Van creates many problems and violates freedom in a systematic and constant way. He added that even deputies could not hold a press conference or a march.

Noting that many civil society and NGOs could not carry out their activities, Uçar said that on 25 October, Van-Hakkari Medical Chamber President Hüseyin Yaviç and Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TIHV) Representative Sevim Çiçek wanted to hold a press conference in front of Van Yüzüncü Yıl University Dursun Odabaşı Hospital but were taken into custody for “violating the ban”.

TIHV Van Representative Sevim Çiçek said that these bans are aimed at restricting the most natural rights of citizens, NGOs and political parties, and said that this is unacceptable. Drawing attention to the fact that any political party other than the ruling party cannot organise any action in the city, Çiçek added that democracy and the rule of law have been forgotten. Çiçek said that the ban should be lifted immediately.

The Chair of Van-Hakkari Medical Chamber, Hüseyin Yavic, said that the ban was an attempt to silence NGOs and opposition political parties in Van.