Who’s Left: Filiz Kerestecioglu and the Struggle for Rights in Turkey


On December 10, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), backed by the most right-wing of the opposition parties, submitted legislation to parliament that would do away with the office of prime minister, increase the president’s power over the judiciary, and remove parliament’s authority to investigate the executive branch.[1] That same evening, forty-four people were murdered outside a football match in central Istanbul.[2] The killers were part of the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), a group trained by—but now claiming to act independently of—the larger Kurdish paramilitary organization, the PKK.[3] Though the TAK had targeted “agents of the state” (policemen providing security after a football match), it was clearly willing to accept civilian casualties.

At the time of the attack, Turkey was entering its fifth month in a “state of emergency,” which allowed the executive branch to suspend certain civil liberties in the service of its fight against the religious movement that had, it argued, organized a military coup attempt in July. Quickly, those expanded powers had been used against the PKK and Kurdish nationalists as well.

In its actions, the government has a great deal of support: in such a climate of fear, calls for security at all costs ring out louder than those for respecting civil liberties. Voices pointing out that mass arrests and firings have not halted acts of shocking violence—or arguing that imprisoning the leadership of the main Kurdish political party pushes people toward non-electoral means of protest—are dismissed as apologists for terrorists. Challenging the constitutional changes is characterized as equivalent to perpetuating the violence. It takes brave people to speak up under such circumstances.

Two days after the legislation was submitted, the co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) parliamentary group, Filiz Kerestecioğlu Demir, rose to speak:

A constitution . . .a social contract, is made with the society. I want to ask you this: how can this be a new constitution if one can’t find the rights demanded by women, Kurds, Alevis, democrats, minorities, the LGBT community, those who desire freedom, those who are excluded, those who are treated as “other,” workers, all segments of society? I even want to say that this constitution stinks [of 1980 coup leader] Kenan Evren . . .I even want to ask, “in this contract that you call ‘new,’ which of your demands are there aside from a presidency or a sultanate?” There are none in this text. [4]

Kerestecioğlu has been speaking for the HDP parliamentary group since the party’s leadership was arrested in early November. While there is no guarantee that she too will not be arrested in the days to come—especially since many critics of the party describe it as the “political arm of the PKK”—Kerestecioğlu represents a different element of the party’s coalition: those human rights activists on the Turkish left who threw their support behind the HDP in the 2015 elections and helped propel it into parliament as an official party, eligible for state support—the first avowedly left-wing party in the Turkish parliament in over forty years.

Considering both Kerestecioğlu’s life and the long history of left-wing, feminist, and Kurdish politics with which it intersects reveals the degree to which current events in Turkey are part of a much longer struggle over the power of the state. At the national level, Turkey’s main opposition party (CHP), much like the ruling AKP, remains focused on using the state to enforce a particular notion of society—one which alienates many people in Turkey and limits the CHP’s appeal. Real opposition, therefore, falls to people like Kerestecioğlu who entered politics through movements such as the feminist movement that challenged the authority of state leaders to impose homogeneity on society. Kerestecioğlu’s political development has been shaped by the struggle for people’s rights as women, as individuals, and as humans—not just as Turks.


I. In Parliament: The Workers’ Party of Turkey (1961-1971)

II. On the Streets: Workers, Students, and Lawyers (1971-1980)

III. The Coup Years (1980-83)

IV. On the Streets: The Feminist Movement (1983-2002)

V. In the Courtrooms: The Modern Lawyers Group (2002-2012)

VI. Back in Parliament: The People’s Democracy Party (2012-2016)

VII. Conclusion


I. In Parliament: The Workers’ Party of Turkey (1961-1971)


Mehmet Ali Aybar (Güncel Tarih, 10/2011)

Filiz Kerestecioğlu was born in January 1961 in Gölcük, a small town along the Marmara coast in the province of Kocaeli. Though her family soon moved to Istanbul, the town is illustrative of the larger trends which people living in Turkey experienced during her youth: between 1965 and 1985, the population more than doubled.[5][6]

During these years of rapid industrialization and economic growth, people flocked to Istanbul and the surrounding Marmara region; they either left behind old networks of family and friends or adapted those networks to serve their needs in new settings. This need for new forms of social organization was met by unions, religious movements, political parties, and other mass organizations; to speak of the “left” is, broadly, to speak of those new forms of organization which rejected traditional models of social relations such as hierarchy based on wealth or religion. And these organizations were allowed more space to develop thanks to a new constitution approved in June of 1961.

Even before the new constitution came into effect, just a month after Kerestecioğlu was born, a group of trade union activists had come together to form the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP). TİP lacked the large followings of more established political parties—and in advance of the 1961 parliamentary elections, those parties could draw on pre-existing organizations to establish campaign offices. TİP, by contrast, had only organized in six provinces (including Kocaeli) by election time and was unable to compete.[7] In the aftermath, the party founders invited a prominent left-wing intellectual named Mehmet Ali Aybar to lead the party.

Aybar was followed by a number of like-minded intellectuals who came to dominate the party.[8] The platform they produced in 1962 referred to the party as allied with “the working class” and “based on history and science.”[9] Though party leaders were careful in the coming years with their use of words like “socialism,” many of these new members were known for their Marxist world-views.[10] To avoid being tarred as communist stooges, the leaders of TİP put a heavy emphasis on national independence and autonomy rather than, say, “international” struggle, which might be seen as taking the Soviet line. Even so, the party repeatedly came under attack from groups like the Struggle With Communism Societies. Uncertain of their safety, TİP leaders met with the prime minister to request protection. Both he and the president voiced support for having a “workingman’s party,” which helped give TİP greater legitimacy.[11][12]

In early 1963, two sitting senators joined the party, enabling it to raise issues with the constitutional court: these included the death penalty and the removal of articles 141 and 142 from the penal code. These articles prohibited political activity premised on the notion of class division. In the run-up to the October 1965 parliamentary elections the aid of these senators was particularly helpful since the party still had not established itself in enough provinces to contest the June 1964 senate elections.[13]

The existence of a clearly left-wing party between 1961-65 had discernable effects on the political landscape. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) had been growing more liberal over the course of the 1950s as it sought to differentiate itself from the conservative, ruling Democrat Party. In opposition, the CHP had called for a right to strike, a constitutional court, and central economic planning. Faced with potential electoral defeat in 1965 at the hands of the Democrat Party’s successor, the Justice Party (AP), the CHP moved further left. In 1963 it passed legislation allowing unions the right to strike and in the 1965 election, it campaigned under the slogan “Left of Center.”[14]

Seeing the benefits that could be gained by remaining uncommitted to a particular party, the largest confederation of unions in Turkey (Türk-İş) cautioned its members against supporting TİP and declared itself as being “above politics” in 1964. Since its establishment with support from American labor organizations in 1952, Türk-İş had always maintained good relations with the state and worked to restrain more confrontational tendencies among its members, in part by controlling the flow of state funds to those members. Yet over the course of the 1960s—especially after the 1965 election—Türk-İş (and the labor movement as a whole) began to fragment.[15]

In the 1965 election, TİP won 2.82% of the vote and fifteen parliamentary seats.[16] The result was far from ideal: parties receiving less than 5% of the vote did not receive state support and, following the election, the victorious conservative party amended the electoral law to ensure that even this minor victory would be hard to repeat.[17] Moreover, the party had not performed well among workers; a sizeable portion of its votes had come from middle class areas of large cities or from minority populations in rural regions.[18] In parliament, Aybar sought to broaden the party’s appeal by speaking of “human freedom” rather than solely critiquing American influence.[19]

Outside parliament, events were moving much faster than TİP seemed capable of managing. Pro-TİP student organizations established following the election quickly grew dissatisfied. The party’s emphasis on gaining control of the state through electoral means seemed less exciting (and less feasible) than the models on display in Cuba or China. By 1968, more radical notions of revolution were coming to dominate student politics and the TİP leadership had lost much influence.[20]

TİP had more success on forming links with labor organizations. In early 1966, Türk-İş refused to support a strike by an Istanbul glass workers union. When the union went ahead with the strike, the confederation suspended it along with five other unions that had supported it. In February 1967, these six unions established a rival union, the Confederation of Revolutionary Unions (DİSK), which explicitly sought to take sides in politics and derided Türk-İş as being a US-puppet.[21] Perhaps TİP could have benefitted from the support of the new confederation, but by the time the 1969 election was held, TİP had already self-destructed.

In early 1968, the socialist government of Czechoslovakia had broken with Soviet orthodoxy. Aybar had extolled its efforts, called for “democratic socialism,” and made declarations such as “Humans are not for socialism; socialism is for humans.” When Soviet tanks rolled into Prague in August, Aybar and other TİP leaders criticized the invasion. Aybar, however, pushed the issue further stating that nationalizing “the means of production” would not necessarily end despotism. In response to such statements, a group of five TİP board members accused him of “personal management.” This attack led to emergency board meetings; arguments over whether current events were governed by immutable laws of historical materialism; expulsions; general congresses; extraordinary congresses; and more arguments. When the divided party finally limped into the 1969 elections, it won only two seats.[22] One of the two successful candidates was Aybar who promptly resigned as party leader and sixteen months later was expelled from the party altogether. In July 1971, the party itself was closed following a military coup.[23]




II. On the Streets: Workers, Students, and Lawyers (1971-1980)


Confrontations between protesters and soldiers on June, 15-16, 1970 (Evrensel, 6/15/15)

The military coup of 1971 was less thoroughgoing than its 1960 predecessor had been. The ruling conservative party was forced to resign in favor of a technocratic cabinet; politicians were not arrested en masse and major parties remained open.[24] The main target was the left.

Since 1967, the student movement had been slipping from the control of elected politicians; outside political figures (like Mihri Belli, a former member of the Turkish Communist Party who called for a left-wing military seizure of power) grew in influence. Yet even these splits contained their own splits; would-be revolutionaries calling for mobilizing the peasantry (“Maoists”) set themselves against others who called for urban struggle (“focoists’). Some student leaders traveled to Lebanon to receive military training from the Palestinian Liberation Organization.[25] Back in Turkey, they plotted attacks on US bases and robbed banks to fund their ambitions.

Union radicalism also grew as the conflict between DİSK and Türk-İş intensified. In 1970, Türk-İş supported the conservative government’s push to amend the Labor Law such that unions could only form if they represented a third of all workers in an industry. On June 15, 1970, three days after the legislation was passed, DİSK called a general strike in Istanbul. Around 70,000 workers turned out, fighting with police and blocking the highway to Ankara. Three protesters were killed and dozens of protesters were injured.[26] The protests heightened tensions between the state and the unions as well as between left and right—a week later, the main Turkish nationalist party established its own confederation (MİSK).[27] Following the 1971 coup, the new cabinet’s first order of business was to again amend the labor law to increase the difficulty of forming unions: workers must now have labored in an industry for three years before they could join a union.[28]

In addition to arresting leftists and limiting unionization following the 1971 coup, the military also declared martial law and established “state security courts.” The creation of these courts had a radicalizing effect on lawyers, many of whom challenged the legitimacy of these courts and by the middle of the 1970s were boycotting them entirely.[29] Politicians too resisted the military, blocking the military’s preferred choice for the presidency. In the case of the CHP, opposition to the coup led to the first change of leadership in thirty-four years; eighty-eight year old leader İsmet İnönü was forced out by the more vocally left-wing leader Bülent Ecevit. Ecevit criticized Türk-İş, appealed to DİSK, and passed an amnesty law that released most of those jailed in 1971.

Though Ecevit—and Aybar for that matter—are remembered as champions of socialism in Turkey, the nature of this socialism is important to bear in mind: both believed in achieving social change through electoral means; both wanted to expand the state’s role in social welfare; and both wished to win Turkey more freedom of action on the world stage. What neither man wanted, however, was to reduce the role of the state in shaping Turkish citizens, and this penchant for top-down leadership was reflected in both Aybar’s conflicts with his TİP colleagues and Ecevit’s loss of power in less than nine-months, which resulted in the return to power of the conservative Justice Party from 1974-77.[30]

Under the conservatives, pressure on left-wing groups continued and right-wing groups felt emboldened. The 1974 amnesty had released the revolutionaries of the late 1960s into a political environment where legal avenues for challenging the political order seemed, if anything, more narrow than before. For Kurdish activists, for example, any mention of “Kurdishness” was prohibited—even groups that had consciously avoided the term like the “Revolutionary Eastern Cultural Hearths” (DDKO) were closed.[31] Whether in Kurdish nationalist politics or in other movements, the vacuum created by limiting moderate voices allowed the most violent groups to gain followers during the 1970s.[32]

While student revolutionaries fought with their conservative peers for territory—both proclaiming the resulting gains “liberated zones”—the equivalent process was playing out in the factories as left-wing and right-wing unions struggled for dominance. Yet as left fought right, left also fought left; even as left-wing groups like DİSK grew, they were being hollowed out by internal disputes. Between 1975-78, the confederation’s leadership became dominated by members of the Turkish Communist Party (TKP). As new unions led by Maoist and other leftist groups joined DİSK, however, they clashed with the “Soviet-line” supporting TKP. Convention battles and expulsions followed.[33]

As these struggles dragged on in committee rooms, DİSK was having numerous public successes. In September 1975, it drew around 50,000 protesters to rally in Istanbul to call for “democratic rights and freedoms.”[34] The following year, 300,000 workers responded to DİSK’s call for a strike opposing the government’s attempt to bring back State Security Courts.[35] Though the conservative prime minister grumbled that “Political power was not born in the streets and it is not going to reside in the streets,” the government ultimately moved the legislation to its lowest priority.[36]

DİSK kept up its mass rallies in the coming years, but the conditions had grown increasingly violent. Two-hundred thousand rallied in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on May 1, 1977, but the gathering resulted in tragedy when cross-fire between left-wing groups led to deaths and a stampede that caused more deaths.[37] Despite this tragedy, the following year’s May Day rally drew 500,000. The number of strikes grew as well with more days lost due to work stoppages than in any previous year.[38]

Though the violence between left and right was the greatest security threat facing the state in these years, the need to tamp down labor unrest also motivated the military to launch yet another coup in 1980. Leaders of DİSK were arrested, all political parties were closed, and strict new laws were placed on unionization. A union must represent 51% of workers in a company to form; all benefits it won in state mediated arbitration must extend to all workers regardless of membership; new members must go through a complex application process that included notifying the employer in advance; unions could endorse political parties; and unions could be closed for any number of penal code violations committed by any of their members.[39]

The 1980 coup targeted activists on the left and on the right, but the goals of its military leaders were in accord with the demands of the right: they sought to re-imbue Turkish society with a sense of unity in which economic and ethnic divisions were subordinated to a renewed emphasis on the ideas of Ataturk and a nationalism blending Turkishness and Islam. Seeing the military pursuing such policies, right-wing leaders quipped, “Our ideas are in power, but we are in prison.”[40] On the left, by contrast, there were few such silver linings.




III. The Coup Years (1980-83)


Mustafa Pehlivanoğlu and Necdet Adalı (Milliyet, 10/8/80)

Filiz Kerestecioğlu was nineteen at the time of the coup, having just begun university in Ankara amid the ferment of the late 1970s.[41] In interviews, she recalled the “pain” she’d felt in her heart during the coup. In particular she pointed to one “friend” of hers who had been executed: Necdet Adalı.

Adalı was a member of a leftist group called “Kurtuluş” (Liberation). In August 1977 he and three other members of the group were arrested for stealing a car and driving to a café where they gunned down three men, killing two. Adalı spent the next three years in prison. After two, he was sentenced to death; the third year was spent waiting for the sentence to be approved.[42] At the time of the September 1980 coup, the sentence was still pending before the parliament; after the coup it was fast-tracked by the generals who wished to make a point to the public. Unlike after the 1960 coup (when three conservative leaders were executed) or after the 1971 coup (when three leftists were executed), the military sought to “take one from the left, one from the right.” Thus, Adalı was executed alongside Mustafa Pehlivanoğlu, a right-wing activist who had killed four.[43][44]

In speeches, interviews, and documentaries, Kerestecioğlu has emphasized that the tragedy of Adalı and others is not that were wrongly convicted but that the state took the step of executing them.[45] Such an act brings to mind the words of her college law professor, Selahattin Keymen: “The death penalty is premeditated murder committed by the state.”[46]

Keymen is not the only lawyer she points to as inspiring her. Others include Halit Çelenk and Gülçin Çaylıgil, both of whom spent the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s representing left-wing activists. As Kerestecioğlu was finishing her law degree in the early 1980s, these lawyers and their peers were one of the few sources of real opposition to the military regime. In parliament, the government of Prime Minister Turgut Özal might have had its disagreements with President Kenan Evren and the military command he represented, but policy-wise there was a great deal of overlap. Özal’s policies of ending protectionist economic polices and integrating Turkey into the world economy, along with his emphasis on religious values, were in line with the army’s goals of tamping down class-based politics and emphasizing the unity of Turkish society.

Aside from Kerestecioğlu’s idols and their allies, this desire for peace and stability was manifested in the legal profession as a whole. After two-decades of increasing activism by lawyers like Çelenk and his “Modern Lawyers Association,” many in the profession seemed wiling to return to a more limited interpretation of their role in society: preserving the state and its Kemalist values, not attempting to progressively adapt them to changing times.

In Istanbul, for example, the “Modern Lawyers Association” faction had dominated in Bar Association since 1976. In 1982, however, its leader (and president of the Bar Association), Orhan Apaydın, was arrested and prosecuted for his role in an organization called the “Peace Society,” which the military accused of promoting “communism and separatist propaganda.”[47] When the Bar Association met to choose its new president, it rejected the Modern Lawyers Group candidate in favor of a candidate from the more conservative “United Lawyers Group.”[48]

With unions broken, lawyers quiescent, activists in prison, and a civil war between the Workers’ Party of Kurdistan (PKK) and government forces developing in the southeast, who was left to call for human rights in the 1980s?

By the end of the decade, much of the activist energy in Turkey had come to focus on the feminist movement.




IV. On the Streets: The Feminist Movement (1983-2002)


(Milliyet 1/19/90)

Women were present in the political struggles of the 1960s and 1970s but seldom in leadership positions. Prominent exceptions—like Behice Boran in the Workers’ Party of Turkey or Gülçin Çaylıgil representing leftists in the courtroom—were all the more striking for their rarity. During these years, moreover, political demands particular to women were subordinated to the objective of elevating the status of male breadwinners. The men who occupied the leadership of left-wing organizations believed they would create a better world for male workers and assumed that a socialist economy would benefit all. Class, they believed, was experienced universally; gender only by women.



A) The Women’s Movement Before the 1980s


Nezihe Muhiddin

Male leaders determining the rights women should have were hardly particular to left-wing politics. During the early years of the Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal and his Republican People’s Party (CHP) had intentionally sidelined independent female activists while encouraging women close to the regime to speak on women’s issues.

As soon as the republic had been founded in 1923, the activist Nezihe Muhiddin had attempted to establish a “Women’s Party.” Blocked by the government, she settled for establishing the Women’s Union in 1924 (which, like all government-approved organizations, was required to be non-political). After a second attempt to involve the organization in politics and a falling out with her colleagues, Muhiddin was removed in 1927 and her offices raided by the police. The Women’s Union spent its remaining four years focusing on philanthropy and conferences. The government, meanwhile, moved to grant women the vote. After a trial-run in the 1930 municipal elections, the government introduced national women’s suffrage legislation in 1931. In response, the Women’s Union dissolved itself and encouraged members to join the CHP Women’s Auxiliary.[49][50] During the late 1920s and early 1930s, the government gradually positioned itself as the sole arbiter of woman’s rights—and, more generally, the rights and responsibilities of an ideal Turkish citizen. Some go so far as to dub the subsequent fifty years as a period of Kemalist “state feminism” that was hardly challenged until the 1980s.[51]

To depict such a long period as wholly unified certainly misses some subtleties—the fact, for example, that women’s magazines in the 1950s continued to remember the efforts of figures like Nehize Muhiddin, whom the regime had pushed to the margins of politics.[52] Nonetheless, organizations founded by and appealing to women in these years tended to promote a vision of femininity in which women served their family and the state loyally, all the while presenting themselves in a manner that reflected the expectations of the Kemalist state: visible in the public sphere, but with their sexuality suppressed “to the point of invisibility.”[53]



B) Consciousness Raising in the Early 1980s


After 1980, left-wing women found themselves confronted with a state again intent on dictating the terms of their social contract and also a political environment in which many male leftists were imprisoned. According to many accounts, it was in this moment that the feminist movement in Turkey began to develop. [54] One figure whose experience both illustrates and adds subtly to this story of the movement’s development is Şirin Tekeli. Born in 1944, Tekeli studied political science in France from 1962-1967. During these years she became familiar with radical politics and the developing European feminist movement. Returning to Turkey, she found a job as a teaching assistant at Istanbul University. In 1975 she helped found a teaching assistants’ union; four years later, she founded a women’s commission within the union to give female assistants an opportunity to discuss their particular concerns. As she explains, “Because we were in a leftist organization, it wasn’t possible for us to use the word ‘feminism.’ Women’s organizations at the time . . .were quite anti-feminist. Feminism was a bourgeoisie ideology.”[55]

The women’s committee was short-lived: the union was closed after the 1980 coup and Tekeli resigned from the university in protest of the military government’s education policies. Out of a job, Tekeli was recommended by a friend for a position at the Writers and Translators Product Collective (YAZKO).[56] The organization was planning to begin publishing a magazine for women and needed writers.[57] Tekeli was interested and invited a number of former colleges from the university to join her.[58] Before producing a magazine, however, they felt it was necessary to become better acquainted with feminism and think through how the vocabulary associated with the movement might be translated into Turkish. To this end, they began collectively translating Juliet Mitchell’s Woman’s Estate, meeting frequently to discuss how to communicate ideas like “male dominance” and “gender.”[59]

In translating Mitchell, Tekeli and her colleagues were trying to bring a number of new concepts into Turkish political thought. Contrary to many theorists on the left, Mitchell argued that women were “the most ‘international’ of any political group, and yet their oppression is experienced in the most minute and specific area—the home.”[60] The labor of women in the home, unlike that of the male worker in a factory, went unacknowledged:

Women as housewives are seen as the main agents of consumption. The ethic of consumption (spending money) is counterposed divisively to that of production (creating wealth)—the province of the husband . . .[Consumption is equated with luxury and] Women’s fundamental job as provider of food, health, and welfare comes to seem an extravagance and she along with it.[61]

Those women who do work, Mitchell argued, do not develop a class consciousness because they have been socialized into believing the home is their sphere and the shop-floor merely a distraction from their true calling.[62] The idea of “the family” does not simply stop a woman from seeing her own interests, “it produces her,” molds her to see herself as defined by a lack of self-interest.[63] The goal of feminism given these circumstances was not only to argue for women’s rights but, more expansively, to argue against the artificial divisions in society that served to diminish the dignity of their labor and condition them to subordinate their own interests. Such a subordination was precisely what Kemalists and left-wing activists had long demanded: formal equality of opportunity but on the condition that anything which might be dubbed “feminine” was repressed.

Even before the women’s magazine was up and running, the association with YAZKO gave Tekeli and her colleagues the opportunity to organize conferences and familiarize the public with feminist concepts. As early as May 1981, at a panel on women in literature, Tekeli was arguing publicly that “women in the feminist movement need to be seen as a bridge to class struggle”—a strong statement eight months after the coup.[64] By 1982, they had organized a four-day-long symposium on women’s issues in Istanbul.[65]

In 1983, YAZKO began publishing the magazine Somut in which a page was allotted to feminist issues.[66] Tekeli made contributions to the column, but mostly focused on translations and the occasional polemic under her own byline. In the column, however, there was an attempt to speak with a single voice; as one contributor explained, the column sought to be direct and personal, using words like “we” and “I” rather than “those women,” talking not of “the woman question” but the “question of womanhood.”[67]

From the very first issue, feminist writers used their page in Somut to introduce the new ideas they had discussed in their translation group. In her first column, the page’s editor, Şule Torun, wrote:

The distinction between men and women does not come from their opposing anatomic features! The meaning of the terms “man” and “woman” is socially determined and contains far more than anatomy . . .[Yet] from these anatomical characteristics that identify women, a hierarchy of genders is born.[68]

The language was bracing and, for young women like Filiz Kerestecioğlu, the magazine was incredibly important. During its years of publication, she was still studying law in Ankara, where there were far less feminist activists. As she recalls, “Somut . . .brought a smile to my face; it was a publication that lit up my mind like a light bulb, awaking in me a host of ideas.”[69] Some on the left, however, criticized the column’s feminist writers for importing a “foreign” concept into Turkish political struggles, but Tekeli laughed this off, wondering whether these critics thought “Marxism grew in the fields of Konya.”[70] Within six months, however, more “orthodox leftists” took on the management of YAZKO. Faced with less sympathetic editors, the women left the magazine in 1984 and established Women’s Circle, a publishing house for feminist writing.[71]

Tekeli did not take a leadership role in the organization, but continued to write translations. Her main activism in the following years centered on a petition campaign: in 1985, the Foreign Ministry encouraged the government to sign the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in order to improve Turkey’s poor international reputation.[72] The goal of Tekeli’s petition was to demand that the government actually enforce the provisions of the convention.

Organizing a petition drive was risky—in 1984, a number of prominent intellectuals had submitted a 1,260 signature petition calling for a transition back to democracy. Within a month, fifty-six of the leading signatories were being prosecuted. At the time that Tekeli and her colleagues were considering organizing their own petition campaign, the trial was still ongoing.[73] Despite the potential for reprisals, the campaign Tekeli initiated gathered over 4,000 signatures between 1986 and International Women’s Day (March 8, 1987), when it was submitted to parliament—enough signatures to suggest that the government would have to take the convention seriously in order to prevent it from becoming yet another source of international embarrassment.

During the following year, several important events signaled that activist initiative in the feminist movement was shifting to a younger cohort of women. In the first place, Women’s Circle began publishing a magazine called Feminist edited by Handan Koç who, like Filiz Kerestecioğlu was born in 1961, seventeen years later than Tekeli.[74] The unsigned editorial introducing the first issue gives a sense of Feminist’s tone:

As the magazine was being prepared, one of the most debated issues was the name. Feminist is a title that’s been being thought about for a year. However, there were diverse suggestions from those who opposed it: “Your Humble Servants,” “Rolling Pin,” “Witch,” “Dough in Our Hands,” “Feministo,” “Period” and so on. As to what should be inscribed under the title, there were also many suggestions: “The Magazine for Hormonally Out of Balance Women,” etc. Among these the most popular was: “Once in a While We’ll Come Out.” Beside the title, it was suggested we have a drawing of a vagina as an emblem, but this would have resulted in a bunch of visual and technical problems . . .[75]

The magazine contained polemics, poems, prose, movie criticism, sketches, and more. And among its numerous writers was Filiz Kerestecioğlu.[76] For her first piece, “Starting Anew,” she wrote an account of a childhood friend who had followed the advice of society and married. Although the woman’s husband, a socialist professor, initially seemed wonderful, it soon became clear that even the niceties (such as his willingness to cook food) were a symptom of his desire to micro-manage every aspect of the relationship. Ultimately Kerestecioğlu’s friend left her relationship with the socialist and reclaimed her own identity.[77] Whether fictional or not, the story carried clear symbolism. Moreover, the literary style in which the piece was written highlighted Kerestecioğlu’s artistic streak. As a child she had loved music and poetry and even considered going to a conservatory before opting for law school.[78]

By the time she was contributing to Feminist, Kerestecioğlu had graduated university and was working as a lawyer. In 1987, one court case in particular caught her attention: in the province of Çankırı, a pregnant woman, repeatedly beaten by her husband, had filed for divorce only to have it rejected. In his ruling, the judge took the liberty of quoting a Turkish proverb that a husband should not “leave his wife’s back without the lash or her womb without a colt.” In response, Kerestecioğlu filed a civil complaint against the judge for “attacking individual rights and discriminating on the basis of gender.”[79] The civil case opened on April 3, 1987, but was rejected. In the aftermath, Kerestecioğlu and other women from (what Tekeli describes as) the more “radical wing” of the Women’s Circle decided that more dramatic action was necessary: a march.[80]



C) The Activist Phase


Filiz Kerestecioğlu (second from left) with other Anti-Domestic Violence Rally organizers (Feminist, October 1987)

In early 1987, public gatherings were still prohibited. Though there had been strikes and other protests since 1980, these were not recognized as legitimate by the state and were quickly repressed.[81] The members of the Women’s Circle came to the compromise that, so long as they could get a permit, they would organize the march—which they secured for May 17 in Istanbul’s Yoğurtçu Park. In the second issue of Feminist, following the march, Kerestecioğlu penned three pieces: the first described the court case and why its “legitimation of domestic violence” was an affront to all women; the second argued that the “personal is political” and observed that the exploitation of women is tied to the larger social order—just as the exploitation of a worker is systemic and not merely an issue of “a particular boss’ goodness or badness”; the third (and shortest) was perhaps her most lasting contribution: a song.[82]

The song “Women Are Here” (Kadınlar Vardır) has become closely associated with both Kerestecioğlu and the feminist movement she is part of, sung at protests and covered by multiple pop-singers. In its original form, it read:

Susmamız oturmamız                    Our silence, our sitting

Hep boyun eğmemiz                        Our surrendering

Hayatı seyretmemiz                        Our watching life [pass by]

İstendi bugüne dek                          Was demanded until today


Suskunduk ve bekledik                    We were silent and we waited

Yaşandı seyrettik                             We watched life [pass by]

Sonunda yeter dedik                         In the end we said, “Enough”

Bir daha susmayana dek                We won’t be silent again


Kadınlar vardır                               Women are here

Kadınlar her yerde                          Women are everywhere

As she explains it, the lyrics came to her on the night before the march. As the head of the march’s co-ordination committee she was restless; unable to sleep, she sat down to pen the lyrics. She copied out the result on multiple slips of paper to distribute the following day and, at the march, used a megaphone to lead the crowd in song.[83] This crowd was even larger than anticipated: several thousand women and men.


Original lyrics to “Women Are Here” (Feminist, May 1987)

The success of the rally spurred more action. Over the summer of 1987, feminist activists both joined with environmental activists in Ankara to protests plans to build a car lot in Güven Park and also established the Women’s Anti-Discrimination League (AKKD) to campaign for full implementation of the 1985 UN convention.[84] Late in the year, a “Women’s Festival” was organized in Istanbul to show support for AKKD and similar efforts.[85]

Over the course of 1988, many factions within the larger feminist movement grew more confrontational, using tactics to challenge dominant mores in Turkey and assert women’s right to openly discuss issues of sexuality. On International Women’s Day (May 8), for example, members of the Feminist Group For a Radical Party handed out free condoms while others set up a “Temporary Museum of Modern Woman” where they displayed examples of women’s unacknowledged labor and elements of women’s lives that are often invisible in public spaces like IUDs.[86][87] In May, a group of activists began to publish the magazine Sosyalist Feminist Kaktüs, which emphasized issues of class in addition to those of gender.[88] Making the connection between labor and gender explicit, a group of women began distributing knitting needles with purple ribbons tied around them on the Bosphorus commuter ferries. The needles were to be used by female commuters for defense against sexual harassment in public places.[89]

As more groups were forming during 1988-89, one such organization—Ankara’s “Thursday Group”—called for a “Feminist Congress” in early 1989.[90] The congress brought many of the movement’s tensions into stark relief, making more radical activists determined to differentiate themselves from the feminists involved with the Women’s Circle. Feminist reflected these divisions in its March 1989 issues with the departure of four contributors including Kerestecioğlu. In their “separation letter” to the magazine, the four women declared that while they would still work together for the purposes of activism, they were no longer in agreement on the manner in which their colleges at Feminist carried out politics.[91]

Then and subsequently, activists involved in these debates argued that so long as their disagreements did not undermine collective action, they would serve to strengthen the movement.[92] And, indeed, these years did not become bogged down in debates over methods and terminology: in addition to the campaigns against domestic abuse and sexual harassment, there were also campaigns for specific changes in the law. As it stood in the late 1980s, the Turkish Penal Code worked to subordinate women to larger social structures and suppress their individuality. According to the Penal Code, attacks on women were not crimes against individuals (as in the case of men) but rather crimes against public morality; women who wished to work outside the house required permission from their husbands (Civil Code, Article 159); and a man who sexually assaulted a sex worker faced a lighter sentence than if he raped a “ chaste woman” (Turkish Penal Code, Article 438)[93]

In case of Article 438, feminist organizations organized multiple rallies in early 1990, protesting Supreme Court rulings that upheld the law and calling for it to be altered so that sex workers were given equal treatment under the law.[94] By November, parliament had removed the clause from the Penal Code. Nor did the newfound responsiveness of legislatures end there; in October, the parliament established a Directorate General on the Status and Problems of Women under the supervision of the Ministry of Labor. A year and a half later, the Supreme Court would rule Civil Code Article 159 unconstitutional.[95]

These were important victories for the movement, but gaining state support—and the internal debates it caused—highlighted important differences between the feminist movement of the 1980s and the left-wing politics of preceding years. The Workers’ Party of Turkey had focused on taking control of the state through electoral means and directing state powers to better the lives of workers; more radical activists on the left had dreamed of capturing the state through an alliance with like-minded factions of the military. Many feminists, however, were suspicious of the state and its leaders. Whether secular Kemalists or religious-conservative populists, Turkish politicians had traditionally sought to impose their own vision of the ideal society on the bodies of women.[96] Consequently, many feminists were skeptical of these overtures. Demanding that the state honor its claims to represent equality under the law was one thing, partnering with the state so that it might co-opt the movement was quite another.[97]


Female marchers being detained by police for attempting to march in Taksim on International Women’s Day (Milliyet, 3/9/92)





D) Institution Building in the 1990s


Kerestecioğlu (bottom middle) and colleagues meeting with the mayor of Şişli to discuss establishing a women’s shelter (Milliyet, 10/16/89)

Rather than become appendages of the state, feminist activists often sought to establish their own non-governmental organizations. As a result, the 1990s are remembered as a period of “heightened institutionalization” for the movement.[98] The push to create institutions outside the state was part of a larger trend in Turkey: during the 1980s, the government had sought to reshape the relationship of the state to the economy; no longer was the state to shield citizens from the demands of the global market, now the state’s objective was to help domestic businesses compete and to encourage international firms to make use of cheap Turkish labor. Social services were to be provided by religious groups and civil society organizations.

Many of the organizations established in these years were “Kemalist” in so far as they “perceived women [first and foremost] as citizens and productive members of society.”[99] Groups like the Women’s Union and the Modern Life Support Society related to women as though they were part of something larger, a cohesive Turkish nation. Islamic groups were similar in that they related to women not as individuals whose right to a basic standard of living derived from their essential humanity, but rather as “wives and mothers,” parts of a family unit.[100] The feminist organizations, by contrast, sought to provide women services independent of whether they fulfilled some role in a larger collective.

An illustrative (and lasting) example of this institution-building trend is Mor Çatı (“Purple Roof”), a women’s shelter project established in 1990.[101] The idea of founding a shelter and counseling center developed during the anti-domestic violence campaigns of the late 1980s; in raising the issue, activists encouraged many women to come forward—but this positive development only highlighted the shallowness of available resources. Kerestecioğlu, for example, recalls taking turns with her colleagues, spending time with battered women who were in danger.[102] In order to provide more than sporadic security to victims of abuse, Kerestecioğlu and other activists began looking for a property that they could convert into a shelter.

Several municipalities in Istanbul and Ankara expressed a willingness to provide property, but the activists were skeptical; in each case the mayors hoped to exercise a degree of control over the shelters. When the activists turned down the offer, the mayors in Bakırköy and Şişli went ahead and established their own shelters. Subsequent events, however, validated the activists’ concerns: in Şişli, a new mayor closed the shelter. Though she claimed she would build new accommodations for women as part of her ongoing urban development plans, she did no such thing. It was later revealed that she had embezzled large sums of money and given no-bid contracts to her construction-magnate lover; pregnant, the mayor fled the country.[103]

Even as shelters became widespread, problems remained: state-run facilities tended to force women through a battery of tests to prove their financial need and physical danger. Women who could not convincingly “embody” their needs or show proper deference to state officials risked losing access to services. At various points along the way, particular gate-keepers to state assistance (like the police) could be out-right dismissive of women’s requests.[104] To avoid these issues, Mor Çatı’s founders sought to directly connect with women in need. After establishing an office in Istanbul and beginning their search for no-strings-attached municipal support in late 1990, their next major step was to set up a hotline for women to call in mid-1992. In the first seven months, they received 27,557 calls. In 1993, they received a building from the State Ministry for Women. By 1996, the organization had sixty volunteers and had helped a thousand women.[105]

Despite such successes, these years were also a time of serious disagreement. The leaders of the 1980s feminist movement had been middle-class or wealthy women with secular outlooks; their main disagreements had been over the salience of class distinctions. In 1990s, however, new fractures emerged in the movement. These years were a time of sustained violence between the state and the Kurdish population; they were also a time of growing political activism by pious Muslims leading to military intervention in 1997.[106] Under the circumstances, feminists who also identified as Kurdish or Muslim felt the need to assert the uniqueness of their experiences.

In the case of Kurdish feminists, this effort to distinguish themselves from the larger feminist movement led to new publications like Roza (founded in early 1996) and Jijun (founded soon after by a dissenting faction of Roza contributors).[107] Other manifestations of this distinctively Kurdish feminism included activist organizations like Saturday Mothers, a group of women (and men) who gathered weekly in Istanbul beginning in 1995 to bring attention to family members who had been disappeared by the state.[108]

In this context of ethnic and religious tension, maintaining a united front grew difficult. Questions multiplied: was the campaign against domestic violence reinforcing characterizations of Kurds as backward? Was the experience of Kurdish women so distinct that it could not be expressed through language of the feminist movement? Were feminists to support women’s right to wear a headscarf or were they to support government policies that barred women with headscarves from schools and the civil service? [109] Were the theories that activists had developed in the 1980s applicable only to secular, middle-class women or did they—could they—have universal appeal?

To some extent, the pressure to adapt to EU-mandated legal norms in the late 1990s and early 2000s provided a deus ex machina, allowing feminist activists to by-pass some of the difficult debates and achieve a number of long-cherished objectives: in order to conform to EU standards, successive Turkish governments were forced to revise the Penal Code and Civil Code.



E) Legal Victories and the Limits of the Law


Güldünya Tören and son, Ümit

The campaign launched in 1993 to revise the Civil Code finally realized its aims in 2001.[110] The process, however, was grinding: the initial bill was introduced in 1999, but blocked for two years by religious conservatives and nationalists—the main complaint being that an equal division of property in a divorce might penalize women. As one feminist columnist observed, it was surprising to see that the nationalists had developed a sudden interest in women’s welfare.[111] Her implication that other motives were at work was supported by arguments during committee hearings when, for example, a member of the religious Virtue Party complained that the bill would remove the definition of men as “commander of the house” and “might as well make women the commander.”[112]

Besides removing the “commander” definition, the revised Civil Code also altered the requirements for divorce in order to ease the process: no longer would women have to initiate proceedings in their husband’s district of residence; grounds for divorce were broadened; and, beginning in 2003, divorces would lead to an equal split of common property. The emphasis on equality extended to other financial issues as well: a poor man could receive alimony and a wife could accumulate debt. Out-of-wedlock children were now as eligible for inheritance as their “legitimate” siblings and the age at which people could adopt was lowered. The law also raised the age of marriage to eighteen for both partners. Previously it had been seventeen for men and fifteen for women.[113]

Reforms to the Penal Code followed in September 2004—but not before a dramatic murder highlighted the need for removing patriarchal privileges from the law. In February, a woman named Güldünya Tören was gunned down twice in a single day: the first time on a street in Istanbul; the second in her hospital bed.

Güldünya had come to Istanbul from a small village in the eastern Turkish province of Bitlis where she had had an affair with her cousin’s husband. Upon learning Güldünya was pregnant, he had fled to parts unknown. Her family was furious. First it was proposed that she become the “co-wife” of her cousin’s husband. When she refused, the family decided to send her to Istanbul where her pregnancy could be carried to term away from the eyes of neighbors; meanwhile they would decide what her punishment should be for shaming them.

She was sent to live with an uncle. After a few months, however, one of her brothers came to visit and told her to hang herself. Instead she went to the police. They made the brother and uncle promise not kill her and sent her off to live with a retired imam from her village who now lived in Istanbul. Several months later she gave birth. A quick and ominous visit followed from her father who would not talk to her the entire visit. More fearful than ever, Güldünya arranged to move to Bursa and was in the process of packing when her brother appeared. He offered to take her to the bus station and told her not to bother with the bags. As she stepped out onto the street, she saw another brother approaching. He shot her in the head and the brothers ran.

The shooting occurred at around 1:30. Not long after, the brothers learned that they had not killed her and that Güldünya had been moved to a hospital in Bakırköy. At the hospital, the police took her statement and then left without providing security. After midnight, one of the brothers snuck in and shot her again. Yet again he failed to kill her, but the attack put her on life support, which the family ordered removed. Since her family refused to pay for her funeral, the larger clan stepped in to provide a service.[114] Under the Penal Code of the time, “honor killings” of this sort could receive reduced sentences since her actions had “provoked” the killers; as a result, the brothers might receive as little as six to seven year sentences.[115]

The day after the funeral, Kerestecioğlu spoke at a small gathering in front of the Bakırköy hospital. Those in attendance included representatives from the Bar Association Women’s Rights Centers of İstanbul, Diyarbakır and İzmir and Mor Çatı. In her statement to the press, Kerestecioğlu declared, “Whether in Mardin or Istanbul, women’s lives are not secure; their right to live is violated.” As for officials who had failed to provide adequate protection, Kerestecioğlu promised to open a case against them. “End these ‘honor’ and ‘customary’ killings; prosecute those responsible.”[116]

The revised Penal Code removed sentence reductions for “customary” killings and even increased the severity of the sentences.[117] But words matter and, as many activists pointed out, the new code said nothing abut “honor” killings.[118] Sure enough, when the brothers were caught and brought to trial, their lawyers called for reduced sentences, arguing that, “Güldünya had stained the family honor, cheapened its reputation,” and that “Sexuality has its limits.”[119]

In this particular case, such arguments did not carry the day; the brothers were ultimately sentenced to long terms, life for the elder brother and twenty-three years for the younger.[120] In the years to follow, Güldünya became a reference point for activists like Kerestecioğlu. In 2008 for example, a group of Turkey’s most popular female singers released a benefit album titled “Songs to Güldünya” in support of an anti-domestic violence campaign. Kerestecioğlu’s song “Women Are Here” was the first track.[121]





V. In the Courtrooms: The Modern Lawyers Group (2002-2012)


Clockwise: Ümit Kocasakal, Filiz Kerestecioğlu; Rıza Saka; Muammer Aydın

At the time of Güldünya’s murder, Kerestecioğlu was already a well-established figure in both feminist circles and the larger women’s movement. During the years 1987 to 1991, she had helped establish the first feminist magazine, led the first major protest, and, in her role as a founder of Mor Çatı, started one of the most respected non-government institutions for women. Between 1991-1992, however, she took a break from the movement, moving to Switzerland in order to teach English and work in the Swiss offices of the popular Turkish newsmagazine Nokta.[122]

Nokta had been founded in 1982 with a print run of around 15,000. Its publisher was also responsible for the men’s magazine Erkekçe and the women’s magazine Kadınca. Nokta caught public attention through its hard-hitting reports such as “Confessions of a Police Torturer,” which led its circulation to rise to 120,000 by 1986. Its success paved the way for other magazines like 2000’e Doğru, Aktüel, Tempo, and Aksiyon.[123] Kerestecioğlu’s time at Nokta, therefore, gave her important experience working at a major publication—experience she would use in later years as editor of the law magazine Güncel Hukuk Dergisi.

Back in Istanbul by the mid-1990s and once again practicing law, Kerestecioğlu became active in the Istanbul Bar Association.[124] In 1999, she became one of the founders of the bar’s Women’s Right Enforcement Center. The goal of the center—unlike similarly named organizations in other Turkish cities—was to not only represent female clients in need but also to carefully train a cadre of lawyers to be cognizant of the particular needs female clients might have. It was Kerestecioğlu’s belief that most lawyers were not prepared by their formal educations for such work; they lacked a full understanding of how gender divisions had shaped Turkey’s legal structure.

From the beginning, the center was a success. In its first six months alone, the center represented women in ninety cases, took more than two-hundred phone calls, and held more than one hundred face-to-face meetings with women seeking assistance.[125] Implicit in the work of center volunteers was the notion that the Turkish state as devised by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was not designed to protect women as individuals; from the patriarchal assumptions embedded in the Civil Code to the language of Penal Code, women were treated as rights-bearing citizens only in so far as they contributed to the larger state-building project. In challenging laws and government policies that privileged the state and social conformity, the center reflected the values of the bar association’s leading faction, the Modern Lawyers Group (ÇAG).

After losing control of the Istanbul Bar Association in 1983, ÇAG had regained control in 1988. Almost immediately, ÇAG found itself in a confrontation with the government. The conflict centered around one of ÇAG’s members, a lawyer named Alp Selek whose father had been a founder of the Workers’ Party of Turkey and who had maintained the family tradition by representing left-wing groups and unions in the 1970s. Selek had been prosecuted after the 1980 coup, given an eight-year sentence, and lost his license to practice law. Following his release, the government argued that Selek could not be part of the Bar Association, but ÇAG defended his membership.[126]


A victory for the Modern Lawyers Group in 1988 (Milliyet, 10/10/88)

Over the following fourteen years, ÇAG won a string of victories in the Istanbul Bar elections.[127] Yet beginning in the mid-1990s, it became harder for a single candidate to hold together a broad coalition of the left. The most immediate cause of division was the growing electoral strength of Islamist politicians. The religious-conservative Welfare Party won municipal elections in 1994 and national elections in 1996. These successes frightened secular officials and split the ÇAG between the secular left and the more “libertarian” left—libertarian, that is, in the sense that they did not want the state closing parties or banning headscarves.

The 1996 bar elections split the ÇAG between two candidates with one positioning himself as the proponent of Kemalist values and accusing his opponent, Yücel Sayman, of encouraging Islamism. Sayman won by over one thousand votes, but faced the same charges again in 1998. Again he won, but this time by less than two hundred votes. During the following two years, he continued to defend the right of women to wear headscarves in public settings and criticized the closure of religious political parties.[128]

In 2000, Sayman was again challenged by a former ÇAG member named Kazım Kolcuoğlu, who represented a faction now calling itself the “First Principles Group.” Sayman was again able to fend off the challenge by about one thousand votes, but his successor could not repeat his successes—nor did it help that the successor was under investigation for misusing his position on the bar association’s executive committee.[129] Under the circumstances, the 2002 victory of Kolcuoğlu’s coalition of Kemalists and nationalists was not a surprise.[130] In 2004, however, more left-wing lawyers hoped to win again: among those supporting Kolcuoğlu’s ÇAG opponent was the head of the Women’s Right Enforcement Center, Nurdan Düvenci. When Kolcuoğlu won again he began targeting his opponents’ supporters within the bar association: Düvenci was removed from her position and Kerestecioğlu (who had been on the ÇAG candidate list for the board of directions) was “invited” to resign from her post in the women’s center as well.[131]

At the next bar elections in 2006, Kolcuoğlu was challenged by three-term former president Yücel Sayman. Kerestecioğlu was placed on his slate of board of directors candidates. The outcome of the election, however, suggested that the ÇAG’s appeal was fading: Kolcuoğlu and his allies received more votes than they had in the previous election.[132]

During the following two years, the issues dividing the bar association changed dramatically. 2007 was a presidential election year and after Prime Minister Erdoğan’s bid to be named president failed, his government nominated the more moderate Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül as its candidate. On the morning that Gül was scheduled for a vote in parliament (April 27), the military posted a statement on its website hinting that it would take action if Turkey’s secular nature was threatened. When Gül failed to secure enough votes later in the day, Prime Minister Erdoğan called a snap election for July. During the month of May, opponents of the government held massive “Republic Rallies” in major cities throughout the country. Many of these rallies were organized in part by members of the Atatürk Thought Society, a secular-nationalist organization whose members often maintained close ties with the armed forces.[133]

Reporting on the connections between civil society organizations and the army in 2007 remained a risky proposition. At Kerestecioğlu’s old magazine, Nokta, a reporter named Ahmet Şık had published articles in March and April about such connections. By mid-April the magazine’s offices had been raided on the orders of a military prosecutor. In addition to files relating to Şık’s article, the military was looking for documents relating to another Nokta story from a week earlier claiming that the military had considered a coup in 2004.[134] In the subsequent trial, Kerestecioğlu contributed to the defense of the magazine’s editor.[135]

The government and its allies saw all of this activity as threatening and began actively pushing back against it. In June, a month before the election, the police raided a house in Istanbul on a tip off that it was a depot for weapons belonging to a sprawling network called “Ergenekon,” composed of retired military officers, journalists, lawyers, and members of various civil society groups. Over the next six years, hundreds were prosecuted for involvement in Ergenekon and another investigation called “Sledgehammer” that was focused more directly on military officers. The investigations targeted both soldiers with questionable pasts and ones simply unlucky enough to be at the wrong meeting at the wrong time. And, as critics pointed out, prosecutors never provided any evidence that the organization actually existed.[136]

00 kapak - 22

A March 2007 issue of Nokta magazine alleges that the military was planning coups in 2004

Beyond their questionable accusations, the Ergenekon prosecutions were direct attacks on the military; by keeping the military leadership off-balance the prosecutions gave the government more room to maneuver. Moreover, as left-wing organizations in Turkey remained deeply skeptical of the military, the prosecutions received a degree of support.[137] This support began evaporating, however, as the arrests and prosecutions grew more widespread. In 2011, for example, Ahmet Şık—the same journalist who had helped reveal the military’s questionable relations with civil society groups—was arrested for a new book claiming that the Ergenekon case was being pushed by members of the Gülen religious movement.[138]

All these events affected the politics of the Istanbul bar association. Though Kolcuoğlu did not stand for a fourth term in 2008, his close associate Muammer Aydın ran as the candidate of the First Principles Group. In the run up to the election, Kolcuoğlu set the tone by criticizing the Ergenekon prosecutions. The results were closer than in the previous election, but the left was more divided than before with many left-wing lawyers who had once supported ÇAG now banding together as the “Participatory Lawyers Group.” Aydın won by over one thousand votes.[139] Aydın had previously assisted Kolcuoğlu in removing members of the Women’s Rights Enforcement Center in 2005 and, in 2007, merging it with the Women’s Rights Center and Children Rights Center; now president, he continued squeezing out his opponents: less than two months after his election, he had the Women’s Rights Center eliminated entirely by merging it with the bar association’s pro bono office. As Kerestecioğlu pointed out, eliminating the centers also eliminated the rigorous training programs that they had sponsored. Without these, lawyers would not be sensitized to the unique needs of female clients.[140]

Muammer Aydın served the shortest stint of any Istanbul Bar association president in decades. In the 2010 election, the First Principles Group split apart over the issue of the Gülen movement and the Ergenekon trials. Another lawyer, Ümit Kocasakal accused Aydın of appointing two Gülenists to his board of directors. Despite Aydın withdrawing these names, Kocasakal continued to campaign as a candidate for the splinter group “Protect Principles.” [141] Kocasakal won by running on the platform that Aydın had “closed his eyes” as Gülenists “infiltrated” the bar.[142]

Two years later, Aydın again ran against Kocasakal for president of the Istanbul Bar Association. These two familiar faces were joined by two other contenders: a new religious-conservative candidate and a new left-wing candidate, Filiz Kerestecioğlu.

Kerestecioğlu stood as the joint candidate for the Modern Lawyers Group, its more left-wing offshoot the Participatory Lawyers Group, and the Kurdish lawyers’ Freedom Law Platform.[143] Holding together such a fissiparous coalition—let alone broadening its appeal—would not be easy: even if the three had combined in 2010, they would have received about 25% of votes cast. Moreover, events within and beyond the bar association were polarizing lawyers between “Kemalist” and “Islamist,” leaving those on the left with less room to maneuver.

In late 2011, the bar association announced that it would not admit women with headscarves to its internship training classes. Since an internship is a requirement for lawyers in Turkey, this was no small matter. [144] Pious lawyers were on the streets protesting within days and went so far as to sue Kocasakal, but the Istanbul Bar leadership stood firm and even expanded the ban. In August 2012, signs were posted in courthouses saying that lawyers should not wear headscarves in “court chambers, bailiffs offices, and court clerks offices.”[145] Such a move served to position Kocasakal and his slate of candidates as the champions of Turkey’s secular institutions.

Avukatlardan Ýstanbul Barosu'na 'baþörtüsü' protestosu

Female lawyers protest the Istanbul Bar Association’s restrictions on headscarves (Dünya Bülteni, 12/27/11)

While gender and religious concerns were being manipulated for political gain, ethnic divisions were also being accentuated. Beginning in 2009, prosecutors had been arresting members of the main Kurdish party (BDP). The arrests initially occurred in the southeast, targeting mayors and alleging their participation in the urban arm of the Workers Party of Kurdistan (PKK.) By 2011, however, the arrests had spread to the west of Turkey, targeting academics and lawyers. Defendants often rejected the legitimacy of the proceedings and argued that they had the right to give testimony in Kurdish.[146] The lawyers being prosecuted were represented by prominent attorneys like Tahir Elçi, the president of the Diyarbakır Bar association, but lawyers like Kerestecioğlu came to show their support and call for their own bar association to defend cases like these with the same intensity that it defended Kemalists targeted by the Ergenekon prosecutions.[147] The complaint was especially pertinent since both investigations were believed to be the work of prosecutors close to the Gülen movement.[148]

In representing a coalition of left-wing activists, feminists, Kurds, secularists, and liberals, Kerestecioğlu needed to develop a way of explaining complex and divisive issues in a manner that could appeal to multiple constituencies. At its most general, her message was one of inclusion and consultation rather than confrontation; her slogan: “A bar that argues in a language of peace, not rage.”[149] More specifically, however, she argued that the bar association had become overly focused on “high politics” and taking stands on symbolic issues, rather than directing its attentions to the people who actually needed help. During the past decade of leadership by the nationalist First Principles Group, the centers and commissions dealing with women, children, and human rights had been closed or brought to a condition in which they could no longer function. At the same time, budgets had grown to 15 million lira thanks to the growing number of dues-paying members; the money, however, was being spent on a new social club rather than, say, interest-free loans for young lawyers, stipends to support internships, or maternity costs.[150]

Part of the problem, she argued, was due to the “hegemonic male perspective and dominance” in the legal system.[151] She continued:

In my first years as a lawyer I was frequently referred to as “Mister Lawyer.” And it’s not just lawyers; female judges also get called “Mister Judge.” The justice system is not exempt from the male dominance and discrimination against women that exists in society. Young female lawyers can even be called “my girl.” At general meetings we’ve even experienced this. No male colleague, no matter how young would get called “my boy” . . .I think there’s still something unhealthy in the attitude taken toward issues related to women. One of the main reasons for this is the government. Dividing mothers and non-mothers, opposing caesarians, opposing abortion—many serious battles are being waged against women’s bodies.[152]

The legal problems in Turkey were not, however, the sole result of any one government’s actions:

How sad it is that law is now shaped according to the desire of the government—though it’s not just connected with today’s government I think. We might feel the intensity of the effort today, but from the past to the present every government has made an effort to establish its own laws. In the past, though, there were more independent people within the system struggling to change it—perhaps today that is more limited.[153]

When asked about the more divisive issues in Turkish society, she sought to emphasize common experience. Asked about violence in Turkey, she argued:

If there’s a war in this country then we’re all victims. The dead women aren’t the only ones who suffer when it comes to women’s’ murders: as a society we all experience the trauma.[154]

Asked about headscarf bans, she declared, “In our group there are different views, so I can’t speak for everyone, but I think there’s no objection to having a lawyer with a headscarf at the courthouse.” Asked about the bad intentions of her colleagues, she explained diplomatically, “Certainly, within the bar, plenty of militarist and racist statements can be made . . .but I find such accusations a bit harsh. Maybe it’s my naivety.”[155]

Whether she was being naïve or just polite, the conciliatory tone was not enough to win the election. In the run up to the vote, Kocasakal emphasized his stance on controversial issues: he criticized the Ergenekon investigations (much to the annoyance of religious-conservative lawyers).[156] He also opposed courtroom defenses in any language but Turkish, characterizing them as an “abuse” of one’s rights (especially if the defendant knew Turkish). Further, he dismissed Kerestecioğlu’s claims that he was distracting the bar from its real duties by focusing in “high politics” by scoffing, “What then? Are we to deal in ‘low-politics’? If you understand ‘high politics’ to be protecting the rights of our colleagues, the rights of citizens, and the state of law, then I say we will continue to do ‘high politics.’”[157]

Such language had widespread appeal among his peers and Kocasakal was reelected, the vote for his block rising 9% above its showing in the previous election.[158] Since the vote for religious conservatives only grew 1%, most of the shift in votes must have come from the left-wing coalition. Indeed, the 16% won by Kerestecioğlu’s coalition was 9% less than its constituent three parties had won separately in the last election—and it is safe to assume that it was not the Kurdish lawyers who switched support to the victorious First Principles Group with its emphasis on the state, the nation, and Kemalism.

Kerestecioğlu’s defeat illustrated how difficult it was for left-wing coalitions with all their diversity to appeal to an electorate that imagined society as potentially without division—united, in this case, by secularism, Turkish language, and allegiance to the nation. On the other hand, such a challenge was hardly new: the left had been losing bar elections for a decade. The new concern highlighted by Kerestecioğlu’s defeat was how difficult it was to maintain—let alone increase—the appeal of left-wing arguments as political identities became more polarized.



VI. Back in Parliament: The People’s Democracy Party (2012-2016)


A) The People’s Democratic Party and Its Origins


Peoples’ Democratic Congress meeting to establish Peoples’ Democratic Party in 2013 (Bianet, 10/29/13)

The question of how to appeal to a polarized electorate would vex the next left-wing party Kerestecioğlu joined as well: the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). That a feminist activist would come to be a legislator for Turkey’s “Kurdish party”—or, as its critics would put it, “the political arm of the PKK”—gives some indication of how unappealing all other political parties must be to someone trying to change the relationship between citizens and their state. Be it the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the secular-opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), or the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), all major parties see “Turkey” as defined by certain characteristics and see the state as the tool for enforcing those characteristics on the population. Forms of cultural expression not in accord with these principles or are deemed subversive.

The orientation of these parties toward the state is not some abstraction of political science: it is reflected in the careers of party officials. The AKP is led by a prime minister who worked his way up through the municipal transportation bureaucracy; the same is true for the current president. The CHP leader was the head of the state social insurance agency. The leader of the MHP was a professor of political science in the capital. During the 1970s, when the more extreme elements of the left and right were fighting in the streets, the parties actually controlling the government (in particular the parties of the right) used the patronage powers to place their supporters in the bureaucracy. In both theory and practice, politicians from these parties have been habituated to see the state as the representation of the larger society rather than as one institution within that society.

The HDP leadership in contrast has never held positions within the bureaucracy. One of the co-leaders, Figen Yüksekdağ, has spent her entire career either in jail or involved in left-wing politics and publishing, editing magazines such Özgür Gençlik [Free Youth], Atılım [Leap Forward], and Sosyalist Kadın [Socialist Woman], and contributing to parties such as the Socialist Party of the Oppressed. Before he entered politics, the other co-leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, had worked in Diyarbakır as a lawyer, head of the Human Rights Society, and a founder of Amnesty International’s local branch; in these roles, he had pushed for investigations of unsolved murders during the dirty war of the 1990s.[159] The same background is true for other members of the party: lawyers, journalists, and activists.

The HDP was established in 2012 as an umbrella organization for the alphabet-soup of parties on the left; its founders hoped that it would have wide enough appeal to win more than 10% of the popular vote and, therefore, be able to enter parliament.[160] As things stood, candidates had to run as independents and then form a block if elected to parliament; because they did not constitute an official parliamentary party, however, they received no state-financing at election time.

The mostly Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) formed the largest of the HDP’s constituent parties and had the most organizational weight behind it. This predominance was a reversal for Kurdish politicians who traditionally had been a small faction in larger parties. Since the foundation of the republic, Kurds had served in parliament with powerful—often conservative—landowners representing their home districts.[161] In the 1960s, a more varied group of southeastern politicians came of age. In many cases, these men had been selected from their hometowns and sent to study in Istanbul and Ankara. As with other educated youth of the era, they gravitated toward left-wing politics—and the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) in particular. Of the fifteen TİP MPs elected in 1965, four were Kurdish and by the decade’s end, they had come to dominate the party and push it toward a more vocal stance on “the Kurdish issue”—which, in 1970, meant simply acknowledging the existence of Kurds as a people. Even this step was enough to lead to the party’s closure.

The first time an avowedly Kurdish party entered parliament was in 1991 when the People’s Labor Party (HEP) allied with the nationally competitive Socialist People’s Party (SHP) and entered parliament with twenty-two representatives.[162] But the SHP were skittish partners, especially when faced with provocative gestures by the HEP politicians—such as when a representative gave part of her oath of office in Kurdish.[163] After only a year and a half, HEP was closed; though many of the representatives formed a new party, their parliamentary immunity was soon lifted, the new party closed, and three members sentenced to long prison terms. By mid-June 1994, many of the remaining deputies had fled to Europe.[164]

It would be another five years before Kurdish politicians began scoring electoral successes again, and even these were not dramatic: Kurdish nationalists faced strong competition from the AKP. The ruling party appealed to voters not in terms of ethnic solidarity but in terms of religious affinity; moreover, its official status gave it important financial advantages in winning seats in parliament.[165] The tide began to turn in 2007 when twenty-one independent Kurdish representatives affiliated with the Democratic Society Party (DTP) were elected to parliament. In the March 2009 municipal elections, the DTP retook southeastern provinces from the AKP. That same month prosecutors began arresting DTP officials throughout the region. By 2011, the arrests were occurring in western cities like Istanbul as well and, in December 2012, the party was closed by the Constitutional Court.[166] Undeterred, the party leadership reformed as the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and its electoral support grew: in 2011, around thirty independent politicians with links to the BDP were elected to parliament.

Sensing they could clear the 10% electoral barrier, left-wing politicians and Kurdish nationalists began planning how to establish a national party. At a congress in October 2012, they announced the formation of the People’s Democracy Party (HDP).[167] Going forward, the electoral strategy would be to field Kurdish nationalist candidates in the southeast and a large number of left-wing (but not necessarily Kurdish) candidates in the west.[168] Rather than focusing solely on issues of Kurdish rights, the party would focus on the issue of rights more broadly, including those of women, workers, members of LGBTQ communities, and the environment. In such a broad-based party of the left, an activist like Filiz Kerestecioğlu fit comfortably.



B) Joining the Party


Children throwing stones in southeast Turkey (Milliyet, 3/29/10)

Not that Kerestecioğlu was unfamiliar with Kurdish issues before she joined the HDP; in fact, on many occasions her career had intersected with causes tied to the Kurdish rights movement. In addition to expressing solidarity with lawyers prosecuted for alleged ties to the Workers’ Party of Kurdistan (PKK), Kerestecioğlu had been vocal in criticizing terrors laws—in particular those related to the issue of “stone throwing children.”

According to changes made to the Penal Code in 2005 and 2006, minors aged 15 to 17 were to be tried as adults for charges related to terrorism. Such charges, however, included committing crimes “on behalf of the organization” or acting in a way that furthers the “objectives” of the organization. One did not have to be a member of the organization. By this logic, calling for Kurdish language education could conceivably be prosecuted as “terrorism” since it promoted the goals of the PKK. More typically, throwing rocks at police and shouting PKK slogans was the focus of prosecutions. Between 2006 and 2008, around 1,300 prosecutions of minors were initiated.[169]

Kerestecioğlu was one of many lawyers calling for reform of the Penal Code. Besides signing petitions and attending rallies, she also helped organize consciousness-raising events such as poetry readings to bring attention to the issue.[170] For Kerestecioğlu, the issue of Kurdish minors being prosecuted was not a “Kurdish” issue, it was an issue of children’s rights and, more generally, human rights. Similarly for many non-Kurdish leftists, it was the intersection of issues like poverty or violence with the lives of Kurdish people that drew them into the movement for Kurdish rights.[171]

But there were reasons beyond the Kurdish politics for feminist activists on the left to support the HDP: far more than other parties, it was committed to addressing gender imbalances in politics and criticizing systemic gender discrimination. In relation to gender, its program read:

Consolidating a patriarchal order in the name of “morality” is unacceptable. People’s right to life cannot be taken away, excluded, or oppressed on account of their gender, their sexual preferences, their identity, or their language.[172]

The language is radical in comparison with the CHP program which also calls for the equality—and all the more radical when contrasted with the government’s platform which states:

Women do not just compose half of our population; before all else, they should be considered as individuals and of primary importance for raising healthy generations.[173]

As the language suggests, the past fifteen years have not been a period in which the priorities of feminist activists have shaped government policies. Despite legislative victories mentioned earlier—amendments to the Penal and Civil Codes, for example—there have been numerous setbacks. Laws remain structured to assist women in being mothers, not necessarily in achieving personal goals. The Labor Law, for example, allows newly-pregnant women to leave their jobs with severance, but lacks provisions so that a woman could remain working while her husband took advantage of the severance law.

Such incentives contribute to women’s low rate of participation in the formal labor force (26%); instead, working-women tend to be employed in agricultural and under-the-table jobs that lack legal protections. Even of the 26% of women who are formally employed, only 8% have pensions. Women who fall into poverty when their husbands die may be able to secure support from government-backed NGOs, but divorcees often do not qualify.[174]

The government has also sought to restrict women’s access to abortion. In 2012, a bill to restrict abortion to the first month of pregnancy was floated but never introduced due to massive protests and EU pressure.[175] Yet abortion is just one component of the government’s effort to dictate women’s control over their reproductive systems. Since 1987, in-vitro fertilization methods have been limited to married couples, but in 2010, the government expanded the relevant law, making it a crime for unmarried women to fly to other countries to receive fertility treatments. [176]

As the government works to impose control over women’s bodies, asserting its duty to protect women in their role as mothers, it simultaneously claims an inability to protect those bodies. In 2009, for example, the Interior Minister announced that recorded murders of women had risen from 83 in 2003 (the government’s first year in power) to 953 in just the first six months of 2009. Although government supporters argued that this more than 1200% increase in murders was due to better record-keeping, activists countered that these statistics did not even include suicides or “accidental” deaths. The actual number—whatever it might be—must reflect either an increase in murders under the AKP government or reveal a continuing crisis that it had done nothing substantial to address.[177]

According to activists like Kerestecioğlu, these statistics are nurtured by a mentality emanating from the top and evidenced in multiple statements by government leaders.[178] [179] In 2014, for example, when speaking at an event sponsored by the Women and Democracy Association, President Erdoğan declared:

We should speak of women’s equality before the law. More than an equality of women’s needs, however, we need to give equal worth to women’s needs. We shouldn’t talk of the equality of men and women because their natures are different. You can’t put a women obliged to nurse a child in a man’s position. You can’t—as in communist regimes—hand her a shovel and make her work.

He went on to add:

Our religion gives woman the role of motherhood. And it gives her another role: under her feet lies paradise—not under fathers’ but under mothers’. I would kiss the bottoms of my dear mother’s feet. She would feign reluctance. “Dear mother, don’t pull away,” I would say, “Here is the smell of paradise.” You can’t explain this to the feminists. They don’t agree with motherhood. Those who do understand us are enough—we’ll continue on with them.[180]

True to his word, the government has taken clear steps to limit feminist—or, more broadly, women’s—influence in policy-making. As women’s groups observed in their 2010 shadow report to the United Nations, not one of the presidentially-appointed governors was female and not even 1% of mayors. [181] These groups were hardly mollified when, following his reelection, Prime Minister Erdoğan removed the State Ministry for Women and Family and replaced it with the Family and Social Policy Ministry.[182] In the following five years, women’s representation at the higher levels of government has hardly improved: The percentage of female AKP members of parliament fell from 13% to 11% between the 2011 and November 2015 elections. During the same time period, the HDP parliamentary group has been around 38% female.[183][184]

Not only did Kerestecioğlu’s policy goals align with those of the HDP, but, by the time she became a candidate in 2015, it was also clear that none of the existing parliamentary parties shared her viewpoint regarding the relation of the state to its citizens. The AKP government’s harsh reaction to protests in mid-2013 and the manner in which it reacted to prosecutions launched by Gülen movement-linked prosecutors at the end of the year left little question as to the lengths it would go to protect itself.[185] As for the main opposition party, the CHP, in 2014 it joined with the nationalist MHP to nominate as its candidate for president the former head of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation—a man whose sympathies lay more with the right than the left as evidenced by his subsequent decision to join the MHP.[186] The HDP, by contrast, nominated party co-leader and human rights lawyer Selahattin Demirtaş as its candidate.

In interviews, Kerestecioğlu emphasized that the HDP was the party for her:

The HDP’s symbol is a tree. Our colors are purple, green, red, and yellow . . .My heart is more on the purple side [the other three colors representing the Kurdish nationalist movement]. I will carry my long years of feminist struggle into the parliament. Firstly, our right to live must be defended. Effective measures must be taken to prevent the murder of women . . .There must be a fight against those struggles [to control] our bodies and our freedoms because, as the government and the president’s hegemonic male discourse continues, many men gain confidence from such ideas . . .and practice them in their own lives.[187]

Her victory on June 7, 2015 was part of a larger success by the HDP: the party won 13% of the vote nationally and 12.43% in Istanbul.[188] These numbers translated into eighty seats in parliament. The HDP’s success (particularly in the southeast) denied the AKP its usual over-representation in the region and left the government with little choice but to either form a coalition or call a new election.

And here things began to fall apart.



C) No Room For Moderates: The HDP Between the PKK and the State


Kurdish political leaders meeting with PKK leaders to discuss a ceasefire in 2013 (Amed Today)

On July 15, Prime Minister Davutoğlu met with HDP leaders to discuss a coalition. Although relations had been strained in recent months when the government refused to aid Kurds fighting ISIS forces along the Turkish border, there remained room for negotiation: Davutoğlu’s government had recently agreed with HDP representatives on a roadmap for a Kurdish peace-process.[189] Two days after these coalition talks began, President Erdoğan announced that he would never support the roadmap, thereby ending any serious discussion.

Four days later, on July 21, an ISIS suicide bomber murdered thirty-four members of the Federation of Socialist Youth Societies in the border town of Suruç. The victims had been planning to travel across the border to Syria to aid Kurds fighting ISIS. In a press conference, HDP leaders wondered how guns and soldiers could pass across the border to aid anti-Asad forces, but these young activists had had to wait.[190] The following day, two policemen were murdered in the nearby town of Ceylanpınar, seemingly by militants supportive of the PKK.[191]

Though journalists identified the ISIS cell responsible for the Suruç suicide bombing and even the names of potential future perpetrators, the government was unable to stop them from carrying out an even larger attack in October, murdering over one hundred left-wing activists during a rally in Ankara.[192] Following the attack, HDP Co-President Selahattin Demirtaş declared:

The AKP government’s time for twiddling its thumbs has long since passed. You are murderers. Blood is on your hands—on your face; on your mouth; everywhere on you is splattered with blood. And it has become clear that you are the greatest supporter of terror.[193]

As the words suggested, HDP leaders were in no mood to compromise with the government and—even had they wanted to—doing so would have compromised their credibility among their own supporters. In southeastern cities during the summer, more confrontational strategies were gaining support: youth organizations were digging ditches and local officials were declaring autonomous zones. In response, government forces were imposing strict curfews and shelling neighborhoods.[194] Those who tried to act as voices of moderation risked their lives: in November 2015, Tahir Elçi, the President of the Diyarbakır Bar association was gunned down in broad daylight. Between July 2015 and March 2016, at least 256 civilians were killed in the fighting, as well as another 163 dead whose affiliations are “unidentified.”[195] The Diyarbakır Human Rights Association put the numbers even higher, giving the total number of deaths between July 2015 and July 2016 at 1,552.[196] For 2016, the organization put the total deaths at 1,302.[197]

Rather than seek compromise, the government took concrete steps to eliminate any means for Kurdish nationalists to air their demands through the political process: the week folowing the murders in Suruç and Ceylanpınar, President Erdoğan called for parliamentary immunity to be lifted on HDP representatives so that those individuals “carrying on business with terrorists” could “pay the price” for their actions.[198]

On September 7, a week following the president’s comments, sixteen soldiers were killed in a PKK assault near the town of Dağlıca.[199] That evening HDP offices in İstanbul, Bursa, Tekirdağ, Antalya and Mersin were attacked by mobs that threw rocks and, in some cases, fired guns. In Ankara, the offices were set on fire.[200] When CNNTürk misquoted the president’s comments on the Dağlıca attack, several hundred government supporters gathered around its offices and attacked it too.[201] The events repeated themselves a year later when, following a PKK attack that killed fourteen soldiers in Kayseri, the president called for “a spirit of national campaign . . .against these terrorist organizations.” That night mobs again launched attacks on HDP buildings around the country.[202]

With violence intensifying over the four and half months between the June 2015 election and its November rerun, many voters who had taken a chance with the HDP lost confidence. In the November election, its percent of the vote fell by 2.8%; as a consequence it entered the new parliament twenty fewer members than before.[203]

The AKP, by contrast, increased its vote share and pushed ahead with its legislative efforts to simultaneously empower President Erdoğan and exclude Kurdish and left-wing politicians. In May 2016, the government moved forward with its efforts to lift immunity on legislators under investigation. AKP and MHP members voted en masse for the bill, joined by twenty-five CHP representatives—including the party’s leader. The bi-partisan support gave the bill the necessary votes to clear the two-thirds mark and avoid triggering a popular referendum.[204]

Two months later came the coup attempt.



D) Liberals in an Illiberal State


HDP co-leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ

Following the June 2015 election, Kerestecioğlu had sounded an enthusiastic note, declaring:

Until today, the tradition of “the state” and manipulation have led to prejudices born from two peoples not recognizing each other. I think we have begun to break down [those prejudices] with this election.[205]

Over the course of the year, that optimism would be tested.

Three weeks after the July election, Istanbul’s governor prohibited the annual Gay Pride parade. Kerestecioğlu was called on to act as an intermediary but had little success; in a telephone call, she explained to the governor that the parade had been peacefully conducted for the past twelve years and asked why he was unable to permit it now. The governor responded that it was the month of Ramadan in which such a march “cannot be done . . .Other things we can tolerate, but not this.”[206] When the parade organizers attempted to march regardless, they were met with tear gas and riot police.[207]

Kerestecioğlu also introduced legislation and commented on pending bills. Among her first agenda items was a bill to allow women to use the last name they preferred—as it stood since 2005, women were allowed to petition for the use of both their original last name and their husbands last name; should they get divorced, they lost the right to their husband’s name.[208] Her bill has yet to be passed. Likewise, attempts by her and a colleague from the CHP to add “gender preference” as a protected category in a labor bill led the committee chair to rebuke them by saying:

We’re debating the values of men and women’s work lives here. There’s no sense in bringing the private lives and bedroom practices of other groups onto the agenda. Everyone knows these [practices] are becoming one of the greatest threats facing our society.[209]

If there was little success to be had in parliament, there was still value to be leveraged from her role as a parliamentarian and, to this end, Kerestecioğlu was constantly joining demonstrations and attending trials in order to bring their issues to public attention. These included trials of lawyers and academics allegedly tied to terrorist organizations, demonstrations against domestic violence, and protests in favor of a ceasefire in the southeast.[210] For two of these protests that she participated in, Kerestecioğlu is now under investigation by prosecutors: in one case, she is accused of participating in an “unapproved” protest against military operations in the southeast; in another, an “unapproved” Kurdish women’s rally, she faces a possible prison sentence of one to three years.[211]

Prior to the coup attempt of July 15, 2016, human rights activists and HDP legislators like Kerestecioğlu were often focusing their attention on particular instances of rights violations—a professor getting arrested for possessing material in Kurdish or a half-dozen lawyers arrested for alleged links to left-wing terror organizations. Even a wide-ranging government investigation of academics who had signed a petition calling for peace in the southeast had “only” resulted in four arrests.[212] The coup changed the scope and scale of such potential civil rights violations.

Five days after the coup attempt, the government declared a state of emergency under which the president and cabinet could issue laws without the approval of parliament or the review of the Constitutional Court.[213] In the eight months following the coup, the state of emergency has been extended twice and over twenty executive orders have been issued. By means of these executive orders, the government has reorganized important state institutions including the military; it has shuttered dozens of media outlets; closed hundreds of associations and other civil society organizations; and removed tens of thousands of civil servants from their positions in the bureaucracy and armed forces.[214][215]

The already broad definitions of “aiding terrorist organizations” have been widened allowing state officials even greater power to investigate and detain suspects: between December 11, 2016 and February 6, 2017, over 900 citizens were detained for sharing images of bombings on social media; 248 were arrested on the grounds that they were spreading terrorist propaganda.[216] Similarly, since the coup, numerous journalists have been detained and arrested. Many of these journalists have had (at some time) a connection with newspapers tied to the Gülen movement or that are supportive of Kurdish nationalist demands—and, thus, equivalent to terrorists in the eyes of state officials.

Some of the arrests, however, defy all sense: Ahmet Şık, the journalist who had once been prosecuted for reporting on the military for Nokta and later been jailed for reporting on the Gülen movement’s infiltration of the state, was arrested in late December for promoting the Gülen movement and the PKK via his tweets.[217] He joined the more than eighty journalists who combine to make Turkey the largest jailor of reporters in the world—twice that of China, a country with a population sixteen times large than Turkey’s.[218]

Journalists are not alone in prison: they are being joined by members of the HDP. Since parliamentary immunity was lifted on the party, twelve of the party’s fifty-nine members of parliament have been arrested and another two have fled the country.[219] Many of the arrests came in early November—the week after the state of emergency was first extended—and left the HDP without either its leaders or its parliamentary group leader. In the aftermath, Kerestecioğlu was elected “temporary” party-vice president along with Ahmet Yıldırım, an HDP representative from Muş.[220] Though no more arrests followed, by the beginning of February fifteen more HDP parliamentarians had been detained and released pending prosecution.[221] On February 21, the HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş was sentenced to five months in jail and co-leader Figen Yüksekdağ—who had already been sentenced to ten months—was removed from her parliamentary position.[222]

The grounds on which these prosecutions were launched vary greatly in terms of evidence—in part because the definitions of the relevant crimes are broad. At the time that their immunity was lifted, HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş and a representative from Istanbul were both under investigation for speeches they had given in 2013 at a Newroz festival where Demirtaş declared, “To those who say ‘Let’s flatten [the PKK headquarters in the mountains of] Kandil,’ I say, ‘Let’s see you spend a night on patrol . . .see if Kandil is flattened.’” Sırrı Süreyya Önder, the Istanbul representative, told the crowd that he brought greetings from his recent visit to imprisoned PKK founder Abdullah Öcalan, “the leader of the Kurdish people.” Demirtaş is also under investigation for a protest march he joined in 2010. [223]

More investigations have followed. Önder has been detained twice in relation to a speech he gave in late 2015 at the “Democratic Society Conference” in Diyarbakır. The conference was attended by many of the HDP Kurdish members (as well leftists like Önder) and ended with a declaration calling for regional “self-government” and “autonomy” and again identifying Öcalan as the “leader of the Kurdish people.”[224]

One of the two HDP parliamentarians who has fled to Europe, Tuğba Hezer Öztürk, is accused of “making terrorist propaganda, attempting to fracture the unity of the nation and cohesion of the state, organizing and participating in illegal rallies and demonstrations, and being a member of an illegal terrorist organization.” The charges stem in large part from two funerals she attended in the province she represents. In September 2015, she served as a pallbearer at the funeral of a PKK militant killed in combat with government forces. Such a death would have hit home for Öztürk: her brother died in similar circumstances and her sister is fighting with Kurdish forces in Syria. In February, she offered condolences to the family of a suicide bomber who had murdered twenty-nine civilians and policemen in Ankara. That same week she participated in a march commemorating the 1999 capture of Öcalan.[225]

Speaking in relative terms, the parliamentary HDP is fairly unscathed by the government’s prosecution of Kurdish nationalists: only 20% of representatives are in prison at the moment. At the provincial and municipal level, the purging of Kurdish nationalist officials has gone much further. Of the 106 provinces, districts, and municipalities won by the HDP’s regional affiliate party in 2014, 65% have had their elected officials removed and replaced with “trustees” as of early February 2017. Eighty-one mayors are in prison.[226] In response, militants affiliated with the PKK have begun attacking more civil government targets—in November, a trustee in the province of Mardin was assassinated.[227]




VII. Conclusion


Filiz Kerestecioğlu (Hürriyet, 6/10/15)

On January 19, 2017, a fight broke out between female members of parliament. After one opposition representative handcuffed herself to the podium for an hour and a half, calling on her fellow legislators to reconsider their support for a presidential constitutional system, female representatives from the AKP began to surround her and attempt to convince her to step down. One AKP representative tried to remove the handcuffs with a screwdriver. Female representatives from the HDP and CHP came up to the podium as well and a fight broke out in which one HDP representative was knocked over, another was scratched in the face, and a CHP representative who only has one leg was knocked to the ground. At this point a recess was called.[228]

The following day, Filiz Kerestecioğlu rose to speak. “I have a topic I want to discuss—a serious one,” she began:

Today, on the last day of school before vacation, a CNN Türk reporter held a microphone up to a student and asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The student replied—and I want the attention of all representatives here, please—the student’s reply was, “I want to be President.” Asked, “Where will you start? How do you want it to be?” the student answered, “I’m going to be a muhtar, then a mayor, a member of parliament, and a minister.” But then the reporter asked, “Why do you want to be president?” and the answer was very troubling: “I will change the constitution. On account of the coup-plotters we’ve had a bunch of troubles. Therefore, I’ll bring back executions. Constitutions don’t bring it back, but I will.”

An AKP parliamentarian from Adana shouted, “The kid gets it. You don’t.” An HDP member shouted, “Coup constitution.” Kerestecioğlu continued:

Well, truly, if we are putting a word like “execution” in a primary school child’s mouth with our parliament and our parliamentarians’ example, well, that is deeply shameful, very painful, and an attitude that violates the rights of children.

A day later, the package of constitutional amendments designed to empower the presidency and weaken parliamentary oversight passed with 339 out of 550 votes: enough to allow a referendum on April 16, 2017.[229]

For a liberal, there are few good political options. Of the nationally competitive political parties, all but one are committed to a vision of society in which citizens are always subordinated to some greater authority. For the AKP, it is traditional institutions: in particular, the family—a family in which roles are divinely ordained. For the MHP and the CHP, it is the state: whether that state serves to enforce the will of the eternal Turkish nation or, alternatively, universal secular, scientific laws, it is the state and not individuals that dictates terms.

To an activist who entered politics through the 1980s feminist movement, none of these options look good. In each case, the vision of the society is shaped by unquestioned assumptions about how gender determines one’s opportunities in society. Feminist activists like Kerestecioğlu did not support the HDP because it was the perfect option, but rather because it seemed the best option.

As in her 2012 campaign for the Istanbul Bar presidency, Kerestecioğlu—and her fellow left-wing politicians—are faced with the challenge of explaining their policies in a way that appeals to a fearful public. Imagining a society in which people need not conform to traditional understandings of gender or sacrifice their language and culture to the greater good of building a unified state is difficult in times of peace. All the more so in times like these.


Filiz Kerestecioğlu advocating for women’s shelters (Milliyet, 10/15/89)


[All links were valid as of February 21, 2017 unless otherwise stated.]

[1]For an excellent overview of the proposed changes and account of the voting, see the blog James in Turkey: “Explainer: Turkey’s new presidential system” and “Track Turkey’s executive presidency bill through parliament.” Also see “Parliament begins debate on new constitution,” Daily Sabah, 12/20/16 for an overview from a pro-government paper.

[2] For short biographies of those murdered at the Beşiktaş match see “Beşiktaş’taki Saldırıda Hayatını Kaybedenlerin Hikayeleri,” Bianet, 12/12/16 or Rengin Arslan and Fundanur Öztürk, “İstanbul’daki iki saldırıda yaşamını yitirenlerin hikayeleri,” BBC Türkçe, 12/12/17.


[4] TBMM Tutanak 12/16/16.

[5] Her father was a sailor (perhaps of Circassian ancestry) who had emigrated from the Dodecanese island of Kastellorizo. His job led the family to move frequently (Meltem Akyol, “HDP Adayı Filiz Kerestecioğlu: Yeterince erkek siyaseti gördük,” Evrensel, 4/26/15).

[6] According to the Turkey Statistics Institute, the total population for Gölcük, combing urban and rural areas, was 38,904 in 1965 and 91,465 in 1985 (“Genel Nüfus Sayımları,” Türkiye İstatistik Kurumu).

[7] Yunus Emre, CHP, Sosyal Demokrasi ve Sol: Türkiye’de Sosyal Demokrasinin Kuruluş Yılları, 1960- 1966 (Istanbul: İletişim Yayınevi, 2013), 132.

[8] Among those intellectuals who followed Aybar into the party were the famous writer Yaşar Kemal, the lawyer Cemal Hakkı Selek, and the sociologist Behice Boran.

[9] Quoted in Kemal H. Karpat, “Socialism and the Labor Party of Turkey,” Middle East Journal 21, no. 2 (Spring, 1967): 163. Karpat, writing before the TİP had become more explicit about its socialist orientation, presents the party as secretive about its Marxism and hypocritical in the way it sidelined workers in favor of intellectuals. To wit: he suggests that “the [party’s] first founders, some without knowing it, were a front for the Marxist socialists” (159).

[10] Rather than “sosyalist,” TİP leaders used the term “toplumcu,” which amounts to much the same thing albeit without the hint of being a foreign concept (Emre, 137).

[11] Emre, 134. Despite allowing for its existence, President Gürsel did not meet with TİP leaders. After being prodded by İnönü, however, he did resign as honorary head of the Struggle With Communism Societies (Rıdvan Akın, “Türkiye’nin Siyasal Dinamikleri: 27 Mayıs 1960 İhtilalinden Adalet Partisi İktidarına,” Türkoloji Kültürü 1, no. 2 [2008]: 15; Özgür Mutlu Ulus, The Army and the Radical Left in Turkey: Military Coups, Socialist Revolution, and Kemalism [London: I.B. Tauris, 2011], 36-37). Scholars have begun paying more attention to the Struggle With Communism Societies and their lasting influence on Turkish politics—to take just one example: Fethullah Gülen was among the founders of the Erzurum branch and the larger Nurcu movement that he is part of was heavily involved in the organization nationally. The link between anti-communism and the Gülen movement gives support to a recent claim in The New Yorker that Gülenist schools in Central Asia have served as bases for undercover CIA officers (Hakan Yavuz, Islamic Political Identity in Turkey [Oxford University Press, 2003], 174; Yüksel Taşkın, “FETHULLAH GÜLEN PORTRESİ,” Moment Dergi 3, no. 1 [2016]: 98; Fatih Yaşlı, “Anti-komünizmden 15 Temmuz’a,” Birgün, 7/27/16; Dexter Filkins, “Turkey’s Thirty-Year Coup,” The New Yorker, 10/17/16).

[12] President Gürsel’s successor, Cevdet Sunay, was even more hostile to TİP, declaring in a 1967 speech that the constitution was “closed to socialism” (Erkan Doğan, “Parliamentary Experience of the Turkish Labor Party: 1965–1969,” Turkish Studies 11, no. 3 [2010]: 323).

[13] Karpat: 167.

[14] According to the CHP’s conservative opposition, “left of center” (ortanın solu) was the “way of Moscow” (moskova’nın yolu).

[15] Ronnie Margulies and Ergin Yıldızoğlu, “Trade Unions and Turkey’s Working Class,” Middle East Report 121 (1984): 15-20; Peride Kaleağasi Blind, “A New Actor in Turkish Democratization: Labor Unions,” Turkish Studies 8, no. 2 (2007): 292-93; Brian Mello, “Political Process and the Development of Labor Insurgency in Turkey, 1945–80,” Social Movement Studies 6, no. 3 (December 2007): 220.

[16] Among the fifteen TİP parliamentarians, notable members included Muzaffer Karan (one of the fourteen 1960 coup plotters purged by more moderate military leaders in November 1960) and Çetin Altan, an intellectual. Altan’s two sons, Mehmet and Ahmet, served as editors of the newspaper Taraf. During the 2000s, the paper published articles that implicated military officers in coup plots; though these revelations strengthened the AKP at the time, their centrality to the Gülen movement’s subsequent prosecutions of military officers led left the brothers in the government’s cross-hairs. They were both arrested on September 10, 2016—in Mehmet’s case, the charges included sending “subliminal messages” during a television interview. On September 22, Ahmet was released (“Ahmet Altan ve Mehmet Altan gözaltında,” BBC Türkçe, 9/10/16; “Mehmet Altan tutuklandı, Ahmet Altan serbest,” BBC Türkçe, 9/22/16; “Ahmet Altan tutuklandı,” Cumhuriyet, 9/23/16).

[17] Karpat: 167. In the 1965 election a “national remainder system” ensured a party was allocated seats roughly equivalent to its national performance; following the election the Justice Party government scrapped this system.

[18] As Erkan Doğan points out, in Zonguldak, a province home to 40,000 miners, TİP received only 4856 votes (321).

[19] Ahmet Samim [Murat Belge], “The Tragedy of the Turkish Left,” New Left Review 126 (March-April 1981): 71.

[20] Barış Ünlü, Bir Siyasal Düşünür Olarak Mehmet Ali Aybar (Istanbul: İletişim Yayınevi, 2002), 249; Ulus, 107-14.

[21] Margulies and Yıldızoğlu: 15-20; Brian Mello, “Communists and Compromisers: Explaining Divergences within Turkish Labor Activism, 1960-1980,” European Journal of Turkish Studies 11 (2010): 12.

[22] Ünlü, 251-59. Had the governing conservative party not altered the election law, TİP would have won ten seats in 1969, not two (259).

[23] The closure of TİP was based on an official declaration at its 1970 convention that “Kurds exist in the east” (Ünlü, 259).

[24] As shorthand the term “technocratic” may be sufficient for describing the post-coup cabinets of 1971-3, but it does not capture the conservative nature of the leadership. Though Prime Minister Nihat Erim had been liberal in his youth, by the 1970s he and other elder CHP statesmen had grown more reactionary—especially when faced with the efforts of Bülent Ecevit to push the party leftwards. As Erim described it, the job of his cabinet was to amend the “too-liberal provisions of the Constitution which permitted extremists to benefit from constitutional guarantees in order to undermine the Constitution.” During his year in office, he oversaw the trial of Deniz Gezmiş and other leftists. His connection to these executions was likely the motivation for his assassination by Revolutionary Left, a militant splinter of the group Revolutionary Path, which had split from the group Revolutionary Youth, which had taken that name upon distancing itself from TİP (Nihat Erim, “The Turkish Experience in the Light of Recent Developments,” Middle East Journal 26, no. 3 [Summer, 1972]: 250; Samim: 76; Sabri Sayari, “Political Violence and Terrorism in Turkey, 1976–80: A Retrospective Analysis,” Terrorism and Political Violence 22, no. 2 [2010]: 204).

[25] See Robert W. Olson, “Al-Fatah in Turkey: Its Influence on the March 12 Coup,” Middle Eastern Studies 9, no. 2 (1973): 197-205.

[26] Margulies and Yıldızoğlu: 15-20; Mello (2010): 13.

[27] For a general account of MİSK, see Yıldırım Koç, “Milliyetçi İşçi Sendikaları Konfederasyonu,” Kebikeç 5 (1997): 207-219.

[28] Blind: 294.

[29] For the best account of how lawyers in Turkey resisted attempts by the military to violate constitutional and human rights, see Joakim Parslow, “Lawyers on the Barricades: The Politics of Exceptional Law in Turkey, 1930-1980” (PhD diss., University of Washington, 2015). Chapters Four through Six focus closely on the arguments and tactics developed by lawyers to challenge military rule during the 1960s and 1970s (210-318).

[30] Writing under the pseudonym “Ahmet Samim,” Murat Belge harshly criticizes Ecevit’s decision to end his coalition government, thinking his own personal popularity would keep him in power: “[Ecevit’s] fault, then and subsequently, was to rely on himself at a time when Turkey no longer needed a savior” (Samim: 75).

[31] See Mustafa Doğanoğlu, “Devrimci Doğu Kültür Ocakları (DDKO) ve Siyasal Ayrılma,” Ankara Üniversitesi SBF Dergisi 71, no. 3 (2016): 941 – 959.

[32] Aliza Marcus’s account of Abdullah Öcalan and the creation of the PKK during the 1970s is very clear-eyed in showing how the group’s willingness to be violent helped it gain popularity (Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence [New York University Press, 2007], 21-49).

[33] See Samim: 77-79; Can Şafak, “12 Marttan 12 Eylül’e Türkiye’de sendikalar,” Toplum ve Bilim 127 (2013): 125-128.

[34] Şafak: 133.

[35] Margulies and Yıldızoğlu: 15-20.

[36] William Hale, “Turkish Democracy in Travail: The Case of the State Security Courts,” The World Today 33, no. 5 (May, 1977): 192. As Hale describes the courts were particularly focused on crimes involving clauses 141, 142, and 163 of the Penal Code. The former two prohibited class-based politics and the latter banned religious appeals. The conservative government hoped to reinstate the courts but remove their authority over violations of clause 163. The CHP and more centrist politicians were willing to support the courts if clause 163 remained within their purview (190-193).

[37] Samim: 60-61; Nilay Vardar, “1 Mayıs 1977 Neden ve Nasıl Kana Bulandı?” Bianet, 5/1/13. Who exactly was firing shots remains unclear. In the days following the bloody events in Taksim, the president of DİSK declared that “fascists and Maoists under orders from the CIA” were responsible (“Ölü sayısı 36’ya çıktı,” Milliyet, 3/5/77). For firsthand accounts of the event, see Korhan Atay, 1 Mayıs 1977: İşçi Bayramı Neden ve Nasıl Kana Bulandı? (Metis Yayınları, 2013).

[38] Margulies and Yıldızoğlu: 15-20.

[39] Margulies and Yıldızoğlu: 15-20; Blind: 295-96.

[40] Tanıl Bora and Kemal Can, Devlet-Ocak-Dergah: 12 Eylül’den 1990’lara Ülkücü Hareket (Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 1991), 120.

[41] When thinking of modern Turkish history generationally, I find it helpful to think of clusters. The founding generation (Mustafa Kemal, İsmet İnönü, and Celal Bayar) were born in the early to mid-1880s; the generation of Bülent Ecevit, Süleyman Demirel, and Necmettin Erbakan (“the ’38 generation) were born in the 1920s, following the founding of the republic; leaders of the “’68 generation,” such as Deniz Gezmis and Abdullah Öcalan were born in the late 1940s; and the “’78 generation” of student activists like Veysel Güney or Necdet Adalı, were born in the late 1950s.

[42] Another member of the Kurtuluş group, Kemal Ergin was also sentenced to death, but escaped prison. Ergin made his way to Lebanon, where he fought with the PLO in the civil war. He drowned [?] in 1981 (Ufuk Erhan, “Necdet Adalı kurtuluş kavgasıdır!Radikal, 4/27/15).

[43] “ANKARA’DA,” Milliyet 8/13/77; Ankara’da 2 polis,taşıtlarına açılan ateşle yaralandı,” Milliyet 10/22/79; “Balgat katliamı sanıklarının idam cezaları Askerî Yargıtay’ca onaylandı,” Milliyet, 7/17/80; “Haklarında idam cezası kesinleşen 4 hükümlünün dosyaları TBMM’ye gönderildi,” Milliyet, 7/27/80; “Ölüm cezasına çarptırılan 4 teröristin dosyaları MGK’ye gönderildi,” Milliyet, 10/7/80; “2 TERÖRİST İDAM EDİLDİ,” Milliyet, 10/8/80.

[44] Just as Adalı is an icon to the left. Pehlivanoğlu is an icon to the right. In order to win a 2010 referendum on constitutional changes that would give his AKP government more leeway to appoint its own allies to the judiciary—in other words, the sort of judges who would oversee the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer investigations of the army—Prime Minister Erdoğan needed the support of Turkish nationalists. To this end, Erdoğan emphasized that the constitutional changes would help bring the military to justice for the 1980 coup and, in parliament, tearfully read out a letter from Pehlivanoğlu (“Erdoğan 12 Eylül kurbanlarının mektuplarını okudu,” Radikal, 7/20/10; “Mustafa Pehlivanoğlu’nun Mektubu Erdogan Okuyor,” Youtube, 7/23/10).

[45]MİRAS-NECDET ADALI BELGESEL 1.BÖLÜM,” YouTube, 4/2/12 (12:15); Filiz Kerestecioğlu, “Karanfilini de Al Git!” Bianet, 10/16/15.

[46] Meltem Akyol, “HDP Adayı Filiz Kerestecioğlu: Yeterince erkek siyaseti gördük,” Evrensel, 4/26/15.

[47] Vasfiye Özkoçak, “Barış Derneği kurulcularının yargılanmasına başladı,” Milliyet, 6/25/82.

[48] Vasife Özkoçak, “Baro Başkanlığına Tekinay seçildi,”Milliyet, 12/26/83. The United Lawyers candidate Selahattin Sulhi Tekinay received 1,927 (50%); the Modern Lawyers Group candidate, Fevzi Hakkı Esatoğlu, recieved 1,150 (30%). In 1985, the vote was closer: Tekinay was reelected with 2,423 votes (53%) while Aydın Aybay, the Modern Lawyers Group candidate, won 2002 votes (44%) (“Tekinay,yine başkan,” Milliyet, 12/23/85).

[49] Yıldız Ecevit, “Women’s Rights, Women’s Organizations, and the State,” in Human Rights in Turkey, ed. Zehra Kabasakal Arat (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), 188-91; Serpil Çakır, “MUHİTTİN, Nezihe (1889–1958),” in A Biographical Dictionary of Women’s Movements and Feminisms: Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe, 19th and 20th Centuries, eds. Francisca De Haan, Krassimira Daskalova, and Anna Loutfi, 356-59 (CEU Press, 2006).

[50] In the early 1930s, the government closed many independent organizations, replacing them with organizations directly connected to the ruling party—the most famous example being the closure of the Turkish Hearths (a nationalist association seen as too close to the short-lived opposition Free Republic Party). Its branches were shut down and re-opened as “People’s Houses,” which the government used to propagate Kemalist ideas (Holly Shissler, Between Two Empires: Ahmet Ağaoğlu and the New Turkey [London: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 2002], 195).

[51] Şirin Tekeli, “Introduction,” in Women in Modern Turkish Society: A Reader, ed. Şirin Tekeli (Zed Books, 1991), 12. She explains, “[O]ur mothers’ generation . . .identified with Kemalism rather than feminism . . .most women’s associations were founded with the aim of protecting the status quo” (12). For a discussion of “state feminism,” see Jenny White, “State Feminism, Modernization, and the Turkish Republican Woman,” NWSA Journal 15, no. 3 (Fall 2003): 145-159.

[52] Ezgi Sarıtaş and Yelda Şahin,”Ellili Yıllarda Kadın Hareketi” in Türkiye’nin 1950’li yılları, ed. Mete Kaan Kaynar (İletişim Yayınları, 2014), 631-2. It is possible that a revived interest in Nezihe Muhiddin (and Halide Edip) may have been encouraged by the anti-CHP climate of the early 1950s; a more left-wing figure like Sabiha Sertel, by contrast, had to leave the country.

[53] Ayşe Parla, “The ‘Honor’ of the State: Virginity Examinations in Turkey,” Feminist Studies 27, no. 1 (2001): 74. Parla suggests that the Kemalist policy of allowing uncovered-but-desexualized women in public was challenged by both secular and Islamic women’s movements in the 1990s, leading to “an expression of state anxiety during a time of shifting norms,” exemplifed by an increase in forcible virginity-testing (76).

[54] Nükhet Sirman, “Feminism in Turkey: A Short History,” New Perspectives on Turkey 1, no. 3 (1989): 20; Yeşim Arat, “Feminists, Islamists, and Political Change in Turkey,” Political Psychology 19, no. 1 (March 1998): 119. The notion of male leftists being imprisoned and, there, female activists finally having space to organize on their own terms should not obscure the fact that women too were arrested and tortured during the 1980—and even women who were not arrested had their lives upended as males relations were throw in jail, perhaps never to return. For a few accounts see Emine Özcan, “Metris’in İçinde ve Dışında, Kadınlar Darbeye Birlikte Dayandılar,” Bianet, 9/20/08; Selma Kara, “‘Ben Ne Bileyim, Küçücük Çocuğum,’” Bianet, 9/17/11; Tülay Şubatlı, “‘İğrenç korkunç suratlarıyla bütün vücudumuza dokunuyorlardı,’Haber Türk, 9/12/13; Oya Ayman, “İlk kez yayımlanan tanıklıklar: 35’inci yılında 12 Eylül’ü bir de annelerden dinleyin,” Diken, 9/11/15; Rengin Arslan, “12 Eylül’de kadın olmak,” BBC Türkçe, 9/12/15.

[55] Esen Özdemir, “Şirin Tekeli ile Söyleşi: Karı Kuvvetlerinden Feminist Harekete,” 5harfliler, 6/30/16. In this interview and elsewhere, Tekeli argues that the feminist movement she helped lead in the 1980s was fundamentally different than, say, the activities of women in the 1970s, which she sees as a “lost” decade. For an account of left-wing activity by women in the 1970s, see Emel Akal, Kızıl Feministler: Bir Sözlü Tarih Çalışması (Istanbul: TÜSTAV, 2003).

[56] Tekeli was recommended for a job at YAZKO by Stella Ovadia. Ovadia recommended her to Mustafa Kemal Ağaoğlu, the publisher of YAZKO and the son of writer and Democrat Party minister Samet Ağaoğlu—who was, in turn, the son of intellectual and theorist of Turkish nationalism Ahmet Ağaoğlu. One of Mustafa Kemal Ağaoğlu’s aunt, Tezer Taşkıran, was a member of parliament and the other, Süreyya Ağaoğlu, was involved in professional women’s organizations in the 1950s and beyond (“Mim Kaf Agayef,” Biyografya).

[57] Because new publications were prohibited in 1982, YAZKO bought the rights to a discontinued magazine called Somut (Yaprak Zihnioğlu,”Feminizmin ilk günleri,” Pazartesi [October 1996]: 20).

[58] Among the women Tekeli gathered were Gülnur Savran (whom she knew from participating in the teaching assistant’s union), Yaprak Zihnioğlu (who had edited the women’s page of the Maoist newspaper Aydınlık), Zeynep Avcı (an editor at YAZKO), Gülseli İnal (a poet), and Stella Ovadia (Yaprak Zihnioğlu,”Feminizmin ilk günleri,” Pazartesi [October 1996]: 20).

[59] In a fascinating extended interview, Tekeli recounts debates over cins (sex) versus toplumsal cinsiyet (social sexuality) for “gender” and özel olan siyasidir versus kişisel olan politiktir for “the personal is political”—especially given that the French translation was “la vie privée est politique” (Esen Özdemir, “Şirin Tekeli ile Söyleşi: Karı Kuvvetlerinden Feminist Harekete,” 5harfliler, 6/30/16).

[60] Juliet Mitchell, Women’s Estate (Penguin Books, 1973), 21.

[61] Ibid., 42.

[62] Ibid., 180.

[63] Ibid., 151.

[64] “Kadın Sorunu-insan sorunu,” Milliyet, 5/17/81. The 1981 panel included literary and leftist figures such as Murat Belge and Gülçin Çaylıgil.

[65] “Kadın Sorunları sempozyumu,” Milliyet, 4/18/82; “Prof. Nermin Abadan Unat, ‘Kadın sorunları endüstri devrimyle başlamıştır,'” Milliyet, 4/21/82.

[66] Şule Aytaç [Torun] and Zeynep Avcı oversaw the column in Somut, but others contributed too (Esen Özdemir, “Şirin Tekeli ile Söyleşi: Karı Kuvvetlerinden Feminist Harekete,” 5harfliler, 6/30/16).

[67] Stella Ovadia quoted in Yeşim Arat, “From Emancipation To Liberation: The Changing Role of Women in Turkey’s Public Realm, Journal of International Affairs 54, no. 1, Turkey: A Struggle between Nation and State (Fall 2000): 114.

[68] Şule Torun, “İnsan’lar ve Ötekiler,” Yazko Somut 4. Sayfa 30 Yıl Kıtabı (Ankara: Renas Yayıncılık, 2013), 107.

[69] Filiz Kerestecioğlu, “Dünden bugüne, bugünden düne,” Yazko Somut 4. Sayfa 30 Yıl Kıtabı (Ankara: Renas Yayıncılık, 2013), 31.

[70] Esen Özdemir, “Şirin Tekeli ile Söyleşi: Karı Kuvvetlerinden Feminist Harekete,” 5harfliler, 6/30/16. Here and in her own writings, Tekeli is interesting in countering the depiction of Turkish feminism as a “Septemberist” ideology—in other words somehow dependent on (or even complicit in) the post-1980 neo-liberal political order. In fact, she writes, the movement was “an avant garde” and “perhaps the first democratic opposition to the military rule” (Tekeli, 13).

[71] Among the founders of Women’s Circle were Müzeyyen Aytaç, Nurser Oztunali, Gülser Kayır, Stella Ovadia, Nilgün Himmetoğlu, and Şule Torun [Aytaç] (Yaprak Zihnioğlu, “Kadın Çevresi’nden Pazartesi‘ye,” Pazartesi [November 1996]: 19). Beyond publishing, there seemed to be an increased demand among consumers in Turkey for content with a feminist bent—or at least the appearance of one. As Eylem Atakav explains, the 1980s were the era of “women’s films” emphasizing the “search for identity and independence within patriarchal society” (134). Yet even these films had a tendency to objectify women (“Feminism and Women’s Film History in 1980s Turkey,” in Doing Women’s Film History: Reframing Cinemas, Past and Future, eds. Christine Gledhill and Julia Knight [University of Illinois Press, 2015]: 128-138).

[72] Gül Aldıkaçtı Marshall, “Authenticating Gender Policies through Sustained-Pressure: The Strategy Behind the Success of Turkish Feminists,” Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society 6, no. 13 (2009): 358.

[73] The signatories to the “Intellectuals’ Petition” were ultimately acquitted. Among those prosecuted were Aziz Nesin, İnci Aral, Murat Belge, Mete Tunçay, and Atıf Yılmaz (“56 dilekçeci için dava açıldı,” Milliyet, 6/27/84; “Aydınlar Davası’nda tüm sanıklar beraat,” Milliyet, 2/8/86; “15 Mayıs 1984 Aydınlar Dilekçesi: Yakın Tarihimizden Bir Cesaret Öyküsü,” Güncel Tarih, 2/15/12).

[74] Feminist was hardly the first magazine to deal with women’s issues, but it was the first to attempt to popularize more theoretical ideas about gender. An important predecessor was Kadınca (1978) edited by Duygu Arsena and modeled on Cosmopolitan (in that it mixed an interest in popular culture with an emphasis on women’s empowerment). Beginning in 1993, Asena launched another women’s magazine, Kim (Süheyla Kirca, “Popular Culture: From Being an Enemy of the” Feminist Movement” to a Tool for Women’s” Liberation”?” The Journal of American Culture 22, no. 3 [1999]: 104-05).

[75]Bu Dergi Çıkarken: Konuşulanlar, Tartışılanlar, Önerilenler,” Feminist (March 1987): 1.

[76] Other writers of the first issue included Defne Sandalcı, Vildan Erozan, Minu [İnkaya?], Handan Koç, and Sedef [Öztürk?]. Defene Sandalcı was the daughter of Emil Galip Sandalcı, a liberal activist prosecuted multiple times by military regimes; Defne too had been arrested for her involvement in a 1970s radical organization, but subsequently distanced herself from such a “hierarchical, Stalinist, totalitarian” environment. Vildan Erozan has gone on to own hip Beyoğlu locations like Ceyazir Restaurant and Limonlu Bahçe cafe—which I personally remember as being too expensive for me on my English teacher salary c.2007 but, nonetheless, memorable for the free-range turtles that wandered around. Handan Koç, the general editor, characterized her colleagues as mostly members of the “’57-‘61 generation” (“‘Defne Sandalcı röportajı: “Vücudumun geçtiği masallar,’” Egoist Okur, 2/19/15; Savaş Özbey, “Fransız Sokağı’nda Cezayir lokantası açıldı,” Hürriyet, 5/26/05; Ayşegül Oğuz and Merve Erol, “Handan Koç’la ‘Muhafazakârlığa Karşı Feminizm’: Düşmanı tanımak önemlidir,” Express 132 [January 2013]).

[77]Yeniden başlamak,” Feminist (March 1987): 10-11.

[78] Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “HDP Adayı Filiz Kerestecioğlu’yla Adliyede Bir Gün,” Bianet, 6/3/15.

[79] “Feministler,” Milliyet, 4/4/87; Sirin Tekeli, “The Turkish Women’s Movement: A Brief History of Success,” Quaderns de la Mediterrània 14 (2010): 119-123. In the 4/4/87 article (and in Kerestecioğlu’s article [fn82]), it states that the case was in Çankırı, but elsewhere I have seen Çorum.

[80] Esen Özdemir, “Şirin Tekeli ile Söyleşi: Karı Kuvvetlerinden Feminist Harekete,” 5harfliler, 6/30/16.

[81] Margulies and Yıldızoğlu: 15-20.

[82] See Feminist for May 1987: “Kadın Dayanağa Karşı Dayanışma,” 6-7; “Kadınlar Vardır,” 15; “Özel Olan . . .” 28-29. The second issue also featured writing from more established women in the movement such as Sirin Tekeli and Stella Ovadia. Whereas the first issue had printed 2,600 copies, the second had a print run of 3,000 (Demet Gülçiçek, “Feminist Dergi Neyi İçerdi Neyi Dışladı?” KaosGL 138: 48-53).

[83] Meltem Akyol, “HDP Adayı Filiz Kerestecioğlu: Yeterince erkek siyaseti gördük,” Evrensel, 4/26/15.

[84] Aylin Moralıoğlu, “80’Lİ YILLARDA KADIN HAREKETİ VE KAMPANYALAR,” Antalya Kadin Museum: 293.

[85] “Dayak yiyen kadına destek,” Milliyet, 10/5/87. The Women’s Festival was held on a rainy day at the Kariye Museum. Among the other displays, Nükhet Sirman highlights the “wishing tree” in which event-goers could write their wishes on a piece of paper and tie it to the tree—an attempt to ground the developing movement in Anatolian folk practices and “women’s knowledge.” Interestingly, a wishing tree was set up at the Gezi Park protests and ultimately burned during the police raid to retake the park (Sirman: 21fn22; “Gezi Parkı’ndaki dilek ağacı yandı,” En Son Haber, 6/15/13).

[86] The Temporary Museum of Modern Woman was exhibited at the Reklamevi in Cağaloğlu in Sultanahmet (Murat Çelikkan, “Dayak Aileden Çıkmadır,” Bianet, 3/8/12; Bahar Çuhadar, “Seksenli yılların sinir uçlarını birleştiren sergi,” Radikal, 9/7/15).

[87] Media outlets liked to play up the outré nature of more radical feminists. A brief article in Milliyet asks two women their views on virginity: an older woman (who is on the board of the Women’s Anti-Discrimination League) and a younger woman (who is part of Feminist Group For a Radical Party). The older woman says that “women should protect their virginity” because losing it may affect their relationships; the younger woman answers that “virginity is meaningless” (“Bekaret tartışması,” Milliyet, 3/10/88).

[88] The managing editors of Kaktüs included Banu Paker, Gülnur Savran, Nalan Akdeniz, Nesrin Tura ve Sedef Öztürk (Filiz Koçali, “Kaktüs: İlk sosyalist feminist dergi,” Bianet, 4/9/03; Necla Akgökçe, “Arada bir çıkan: 25 yaşında bir FEMİNİST,” Sendika.org, 12/16/12). The group emphasized their difference from the activists at Feminist in several ways: whereas the first issue of Feminist was dated to coincide with International Women’s Day (March 8, 1987), the first issue of Kaktüs was released on International Labor Day (May 1, 1988).

[89] The purple needles cost 100TL—which was about half the price of a loaf of bread (“Ekmek zam yolda,” Milliyet, 3/7/88; “Kadınlardan ‘iğneli savaş,’” Milliyet, 11/3/89).

[90] Berivan Kum, “Paker: 89 Kadın Kurultayı, İlkler Kurultayıydı,” Bianet, 1/6/03; Handan Koç, “Feminizmin yeni yüzyılı için geriye bir bakış,” Handan Koç Yazıları, fn10. It is very unclear to me whether the “1. Feminist Kongre” and the “Kadın Kurultayı” are distinct events; Koç refers to both while also giving two different years as the dates for the same event. If anyone has better information than I have found, please let me know. Thanks.

[91]Bir Ayrılık Mektubu,” Feminist (March 1989): 2.

[92] For example, see İstanbul – Amargi Feminizm Tartışmaları (Amargi Yayınevi, 2011).

[93] Until 1990, Article 438 of the Turkish Penal Code stated: “The penalties for raping or kidnapping a woman who has taken prostitution as her profession are to be lowered by two-thirds of the [standard] written penalty for such crimes.” As late as 1989, the Turkish Supreme Court was ruling in favor of such a distinction between prostitutes and “chaste women” (Anayasa Mahkemesi Kararlar Dergisi 25 [Ankara, 2001]: 3-24).

[94] “Fahişelere yargı tokadı,” Milliyet, 1/11/90; “Izmir genelevinde grev,” Milliyet, 1/18/90; “Fahişeye silah,” Milliyet, 2/19/90;“Fahişeye tecavüzde ceza indirimi yok,” Milliyet, 11/30/90; Istar B. Gozaydin, “Rape, Prostitution, and Law in Turkey”.

[95] “Kadınlara özgürlük,” Milliyet, 7/3/92.

[96] The notion that Kemalists saw women’s bodies in similar ways to construction sites can be found in many works, but one to single out is Sibel Bozdoğan, Modernism and Nation Building: Turkish Architectural Culture in the Early Republic (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002), 82: “The idealized qualities of the new woman—simplicity, health, youth, unadorned beauty, practicality, and, most importantly, a ‘scientific’ worldview—were precisely the same attributes for which modern architecture was celebrated.”

[97] Ecevit, 196.

[98] Nora Fisher Onar and Hande Paker, “Towards Cosmopolitan Citizenship? Women’s Rights in Divided Turkey,” Theory and Society 41, no. 4 (July 2012): 382. Seventy-four percent of the NGOs existing in 2007 had been established after 1990 (Ecevit, 199).

[99] Simel Esim and Dilek Cindoğlu, “Women’s Organizations in 1990s Turkey: Predicaments and Prospects,” Middle Eastern Studies 35, no. 1 (Jan., 1999): 182.

[100] Esim and Cindoğlu: 184.

[101] Another important example of the feminist movement’s institutionalization during the 1990s was the Library of Women’s Works and Information Center Foundation established in 1990 by Jale Baysal, Aslı Davaz, Şirin Tekeli, Füsun Ertuğ Yaraş and Füsun Akatlı. Still open as of 2017, the library contains books, theses, magazines, newspapers, and other archives related to women.

[102] Zeynep Oral, “Dövülen kadının gidebileceği yer yok,” Milliyet, 10/12/89; “Kadınevi, kocaların tavrını de değiştirecek ,” Milliyet, 10/15/89.

[103] “Adresi gizli ‘kadın evi,'” Milliyet, 9/22/90; Duygu Asena, “Gülay Atığ’ı izleyeceğiz,”Milliyet, 11/19/94; Berna Ekal, “Women’s Shelters and Municipalities in Turkey: Between Solidarity and Benevolence,” EchoGéo 16 (2011): 6-7. For more on the misadventures of Şişli mayor Gülay Atığ, see Reuben Silverman, “All Politics is Local, 2014: Mustafa Sarıgül and the CHP,” 1/23/14: section V. In Ankara’s Altındağ neighborhood a shelter established in partnership between the municipality and the Women’s Solidarity Foundation ran into trouble as the neighborhood grew more conservative. In April 1994, the building was attacked by men claiming to be connected with the municipality; the following January it was closed by the newly elected Welfare Party (“Kadın sığınmaevine baskın,” Milliyet, 4/10/94; “RP’li belediye kadın sığınma evini kapatıyor,” Milliyet, 1/10/95).

[104] Ekal: 8-9. This article considering the problems inherent in state-provided services was researched after the 2005 Municipal Law required all municipalities over 10,000 to provide guest-housing for women and children (Article 14a). A good discussion of domestic violence in Turkey can be found in Evdeki Terör: Kadına Yönelik Şiddet (Mor Çatı Yayınları, 1996), which includes many accounts by women of their experiences with police; many complaints were dismissed with statements like, “We don’t get involved in family disputes” (44).

[105] The fourteen founders of Mor Çatı included Canan Arın, Hülya Gülbahar, Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Şirin Tekeli, Yaprak Zihnioğlu, Şahika Yüksel and Nurperi Sancak (“Kadınlara ‘mor sığınak,”Milliyet, 11/5/90; “Alo Dayak’a rekor başvuru,” Milliyet, 3/26/93; Yeşim Arat, “Feminists, Islamists, and Political Change in Turkey,” Political Psychology 19, no. 1 (March 1998): 120-21; Bahar Çuhadar, “Mor Çatı’ya meşhur elbise desteği,” Radikal, 11/8/10).

[106] The 1997 military intervention led many pious women to become more involved in politics, it also led many pious women’s rights activists to be suspicious of secular activists (Onar and Paker: 388).

[107] For analysis of Kurdish women’s magazines, see Ömer Çaha, “The Kurdish Women’s Movement: A Third-Wave Feminism Within the Turkish Context,” Turkish Studies 12, no. 3 (2011): 435-449; Z. Seda Özcan, “The Dual Identity of Roza Journal: Womanhood and Ethnicity in the Context of Kurdish Feminism,” Turkish Journal of Politics 2, no. 2 (Winter 2011): 41-56.

[108] Ayşe Günaysu, “’Cumartesi’ Nasıl Başladı, Neden Ara Verildi?” Bianet, 10/24/14.

[109] Onar and Paker: 388-90.

[110] In 1998, the government passed the Family Protection Law (4320), which made it easier for family members to report abuse. Many activists complained that the very name of the bill suggested its patriarchal nature and, furthermore, that the bill defined “family” narrowly, excluding unmarried, domestic partners. In 2012, the law was revised to allow electronic tracking of perpetrators as well name changes and relocations for victims (Burçin Belge, “Ailenin Korunması Kanunu’nda Değişiklik Olumlu Ama Eksik,” Bianet, 1/3/11; Filiz Kerestecioğlu, “Hukuk-Basın İlişkisi ve Kadınlaraİlişkin Yasal Değişlikler,” Kadın Odaklı Habercılık, Sevda Alankuş ed. [Istanbul: IPS İletişim Vakfı Yayınları, 2007]: 74-75; “Kadına Şiddet Yasası kabul edildi,” Hürriyet, 3/8/12).

[111] “Koca artık ‘reis’ değil,” Milliyet, 9/10/99; Duygu Asena, “MHP hassasiyeti,” Milliyet, 11/14/99.

[112] The term “reis” could be translated as admiral, president, leader, boss—or more simply “head”—of the household, but I think “commander” is awkward enough to capture the inherent absurdity of the term better (“Bu kez çıkar inşallah,” Milliyet, 4/7/00; “‘Reis’ ikiye böldü,”Milliyet, 4/25/00). In addition to Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat’s complaint that women might become “commander of the house,” conservative politicians also complained about striking phases such as “husband’s wife” from the legislation in favor of “husband-wife.” One observed that if the same changes were made to “mother’s son” than the law might mean any mother and any son. Without clear possession, there would be confusion! (“Meclis karı koca kavgasını sevdi,” Milliyet, 3/23/01).

[113] “Kim demiş evin reisi erkek diye,” Milliyet, 11/23/01; “Medeni kanun 75 yıl sonra değişti,” Hürriyet, 11/23/01. Also see TÜRK MEDENİ KANUNU. The revised Labor Law of 2003 also increased women’s rights in the workplace by enabling them to break contracts and launch civil suits if employers, upon being informed of specific sexual harassment issues, did not take steps to prevent further incidents. Employers were also required to give paid maternity leave and reasonably accommodate employees’ breast-feeding/pumping routines (Arzu Kaprol, “Çalışan kadının yeni hakları,” Milliyet, 7/4/03; İŞ KANUNU Article 18d, 24d, 65e).

[114]Güldünya töre kurbanı,” Radikal, 2/27/04; “‘Aşiretimizin haberi yoktu,‘” Radikal, 2/29/04; “Güldünya göre göre soldu,” Radikal, 3/1/04.

[115] Yurdagül Şimşek, “‘Töre’ belası TCK’yı bekliyor,” Radikal, 2/28/04.

[116]‘Güldünya’nın ölümünde ihmal var,’Hürriyet, 3/2/04.

[117] The parliamentary committee debates over the Penal Code became particularly controversial in early September when the Justice and Development Party government attempted to make adultery a punishable crime. In defense of this move, the government claimed that “Anatolian women desired it.” Many women’s rights activists were skeptical. After coming under serious pressure from within and without, the government backed down (“‘Töre cinayetleri artar,’” Milliyet, 9/5/04; “AKP ve CHP, medeni ‘Arzu çözümde uzlaştı,” Milliyet, 9/15/04).

[118] Saliha Çolak, “Hayatımıza yeni düzen,”Milliyet, 9/27/04; “TCK Reformu,” Kadının İnsan Hakları.

[119]Avukatların töreyi bir alkışlamadığı kaldı,” Radikal, 11/10/06.

[120]Güldünya için ceza yağdı,” Radikal, 11/14/07. The case did not end with the trial of the brothers. In 2011, more than seven years after Güldünya’s death, the man with whom she had fathered a child was murdered in the Istanbul neighborhood of Sultanbeyli where had been hiding. The murder was linked to Güldünya’s father who was arrested and prosecuted. The murder sparked fresh fighting between the families involved and the courtroom became the scene of a massive brawl in which twenty were injured. Not until 2013 did the two families come to an accord. As for Güldünya’s father: he received a life sentence (Ali Aksoyer and Ramazan Almaçayır, “Güldünya’nın çocuğunun babası da öldürüldü,” Radikal, 11/14/11; Cengiz Çoban, “Güldünya davasında 30 yaralı,” Radikal, 12/12/12; Enver Alas, “Kan davası bitti,” Radikal, 1/7/13; Aziz Özen, “Güldünya’nın babasına müebbet,” Hürriyet, 12/27/13).

[121]En güçlü sesler en güçsüzler için söyledi,” Hürriyet, 11/23/08; “Güldünya buluşması,” Hürriyet, 12/08/08. The album Songs to Güldünya raised money for Doğan Holding’s corporate responsibility venture: “End Domestic Violence” (“Kurumsal Sorumluluk: Aile İçi Şiddete Son!” Doğan Şirketler Grubu Holding). For a review see Yasemin Öz, “Güldünya Şarkıları’na Feminist Bir Dinleyici Yorumu,” Bianet, 12/13/08.

[122] Kerestecioğlu’s name begins appearing in Nokta as the “Swiss Bureau” representative on May 5, 1992 and continues until [as far as I’ve seen at least] August 30, 1992. During this time there are no articles under her by-line or about Switzerland in particular.

[123] Ceren Sözleri, “Türkiye’de Bağımsız Haber Dergiciliğinin Ekonomik Sorunları: Nokta Dergisi Örneği” İLETİŞİM 7, no. 7 (2007): 110-11. For an example of Nokta’s style, see Ipek Çalışlar and Can San “‘Ben Bir İşkenceciyim,’” and “Türkiye’de Olay Var: İşkence,” Bianet, 5/5/11.

[124] In the mid-1990s, Kerestecioğlu also contributed to the documentary Kadınlar Vardır (1995), which focused on women’s presence in Turkish history from the Ottoman Empire to the 1980s.

[125]Yoksul kadınlara hukuk desteği,” Hürriyet, 1/21/00; “Kerestecioğlu’nun basın toplantısı,” Adalet Biz, 9/11/12.

[126] “Hodri Meydan,” Milliyet, 2/22/90.

[127] In 1988, the Modern Lawyers Group candidate Turgut Kazan won 2,632 votes (44%) to opponent Aydın Kazancı’s 1,343 votes (23%)(“Baroda ‘Çağdaş’ kazandı,” Milliyet, 10/10/88). Though the papers at the time equate Kazan with the Modern Lawyers Group, Emre Öngün and Mansur Hasan argue that he was actually fairly independent of the group; after his first two terms, he broke with them entirely and began soliciting the support of more conservative lawyers as well (“How Political Dynamics Work in Professional Organizations: The Radical Left and the Istanbul Bar Association,” in Negotiating Political Power in Turkey: Breaking Up the Party, eds. Elise Massicard and Nicole Watts [London: Routledge, 2013], 151).

[128] In the 1996 Istanbul Bar election, with participation around 60%, Yücel Sayman won 3,165 votes (50%); Engin Ünsal 2,145 (30%); and Necati Ceylan, the religious-conservative candidate, 1,303 (18%). In 1998, Sayman won 2,641 (37%); Müşür Kaya Canpolat 2,449 (35%); and Şemsettin Petek, the religious-conservative candidate, 905 (13%)(Zeynep Çetinkaya, “Baro’da Çağdaş Avukatlar bölündü,” Milliyet, 10/16/96; “Sayman, İstanbul Barosu Başkanı,” Milliyet, 10/21/96; “Baroda türban tartışması,” Milliyet, 10/24/98; Ümran Avcı, “Sayman, ikinci kez Baro Başkanı oldu,” Milliyet, 10/26/98; “Anayasal düzeni eleştirmek suç olmaktan çıkmalı,” Milliyet, 5/29/99).

[129] In the 2000 bar election 8,262 out of around 15,000 members participated (about 55%), Sayman won 3,303 votes (40%) to Kolcuoğlu’s 2,212 votes (27%) with the religious conservatives receiving 1,028 votes (12%). In 2,002, with only 7,267 lawyers voting, Kolcuoğlu won 3,194 votes (44%); the Modern Lawyers Group candidate, Mert Er Karagülle, won 2,877 votes (40%); and the religious conservative candidate won 1,049 votes (14%). As Öngün and Hasan show, the Modern’s Lawyers Group depended on the votes of younger lawyers and these dropped significantly between 2000 and 2002: in 2000 it won 50.75% of younger voters to Kolcuoğlu’s 17.75%, and 19.4% for religious conservatives; in 2002, that percentage fell to 45.71%, while Kolcuoğlu captured 33.32% and religious-conservatives 20.96% (“Çağdaş Avukatlar Yücel Sayman’ı seçti,” Hürriyet, 10/4/00; Hasan Pulur, “Baro ve türban,” Milliyet, 11/3/00; “Sayman yeniden Baro Başkanı,” Hürriyet, 11/6/00; “İstanbul Barosu başkanını arıyor,” Hürriyet, 10/5/02; “Baro başkan adayına görevi ihmal davası,” Hürriyet, 10/18/02; “Baro’nun yeni Başkanı Kolcuoğlu,” Hürriyet, 10/21/02; Öngün and Hasan: 148-50).

[130] In his youth, Kazım Kolcuoğlu had been a member of the Revolutionary Turkish Hearths association and served as president of the National Turkish Youth Organization (TMGT). Between his 2000 loss and his 2002 victory in the Istanbul Bar elections, he stood as a candidate on the Republican People’s Party (CHP) list in Istanbul’s 3rd District in the September 2002 election. Since he was sixteenth on the list, however, he did not enter parliament (“İstanbul Barosu başkanını arıyor,” Hürriyet, 10/5/02; “CHP’nin adayları,” Hürriyet, 9/11/02).

[131] With about 12,400 voting (participation of about 66%), Kazım Kolcuoğlu won the 2004 election with 4,971 votes (40%), his opponent from the Modern Lawyers Group, Bahri Belen, received 3,849 votes (31%) (İstanbul Barosu’nda 5 gruplu seçim,” Hürriyet, 10/22/04; “Baro Seçiminde Kolcuoğlu Kazandı,” Bianet, 10/25/04; Murat Çelikkan, “Zorbalık!Radikal, 1/12/05; Burçin Belge, “Baroda Kadınlar Susturulmaya Çalışılıyor,” Bianet, 1/5/05; “İstanbul Barosunda da Kadınlar Vardır,” Pazartesi 98 [January 2005]: 3).

[132] In 2006, Kazım Kolcuoğlu won with 6,387 votes (~42%) to Yücel Sayman’s 4,954 votes (~32%). An alternative explanation for—or at least additional factor to consider—in the triumph of the nationalist faction over the more left-wing faction was the growing religious conservative vote. In past elections, these lawyers had organized as the “Called Upon Lawyers Group” and won around 1,000 votes. In 2006, these lawyers rebranded themselves as the “Supremacy of the Law Group” and won 2,862 (~19%). Some of this growth was due to the continuing increase in membership, but an important element may also have been that lawyers who had previously supported ÇAG for its stance in support of headscraves and against party closures now switched their support (Ali Dağlar, “İstanbul Barosu’nda seçim yarışı kızıştı,” Hürriyet, 10/12/06; Ayşegül Usta, “Kolcuoğlu, üçüncü kez baro başkanı,” Hürriyet, 10/16/06).

[133] Cengiz Çandar, “Büyük mitinglerden büyük fırsata…,” Hürriyet, 5/16/07.

[134] “Genelkurmay’ın akreditasyon listesi,”Milliyet, 3/8/07; “Planın adı: Sarıkız harekâtı,”Milliyet, 3/30/07; ‘Sivil toplum’ için andıç iddiası,”Milliyet, 4/6/07

Eray Erollu, “Nokta’daki ’Darbe Günlüğü’ Başbakanlık’tan istendi,” Hürriyet, 9/20/07; “Başbakanlıktan ‘günlük’ istendi,” Milliyet, 9/20/07; Volkan Şahin, “Nokta Dergisindeki ‘baskın’ arama-kopyalama sona erdi,” Birgün, 4/16/07; Ceren Sözleri, “Türkiye’de Bağımsız Haber Dergiciliğinin Ekonomik Sorunları: Nokta Dergisi Örneği” İLETİŞİM 7, no. 7 (2007): 118-20.

[135] “Başbakanlıktan ‘günlük’ istendi,” Milliyet, 9/20/07. In 2008, Ahmet Şık and Lalezar Sarıibrahimoğlu Kemal were found innocent in the Nokta case of attempting to undermine the military and Turkey’s internal security. In January 2016, the European Court for Human Rights rules that the military must pay civil damages totaling 8,250 euros to Şık and others. Both reporters, however, are now in jail again: Şık since December and Sarıibrahimoğlu since July (Erol Önderoğlu, “Nokta’ya Röportaj Davası’ndan Şık ve Sarıibrahimoğlu’na Beraat,” Bianet, 4/3/08; “Nokta’ya Darbe Günlükleri Baskınından Türkiye Mahkum,” Bianet, 1/19/16; “Eski Zaman Kadrosundan Ali Bulaç ve Şahin Alpay Dahil 6 Kişi Tutuklandı,” Bianet, 7/31/16).

[136] For a good overview of Ergenekon, see work by Gareth Jenkins including Between Fact and Fantasy: Turkey’s Ergenekon Investigation, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Silk Road Studies Program, August 2009; “The Ergenekon Verdicts: Chronicle of an Injustice Foretold,” Turkey Analyst 6, no. 14 (August 2014); “The Balyoz Retrial and the Changing Politics of Turkish Justice,” Turkey Analyst 7, no. 12 (2014).

[137] Amberin Zaman, “How a Turkish daily targeting army tutelage was banned for supporting a coup,” Al Monitor, 8/5/16.

[138] Joshua Hendrick, Gülen: The Ambiguous Politics of Market Islam in Turkey and the World (New York: New York University Press, 2013): 195-96.

[139] In the 2008 bar elections, 16,870 out of 23,573 members voted (72% turnout). Muammer Aydın (First Principles) won with 5,619 votes (33%); Kemal Aytaç (Modern Lawyers) won 4,362 votes (26%); Şadi Çarsancaklı (Rule of Law) won 3,469 votes (21%); Mebuse Tekay (Participatory Lawyers) won 2,450 votes (15%); and Uğur Yetimoğlu (Unity Party) won 559 votes (3%)(“İstanbul Barosu’nda Muammer Aydın dönemi,” Hürriyet, 10/27/08).

[140]İstanbul Barosu kadın ve çocuk merkezlerini kapattı,” Kazete, 12/24/08; Nazan Özcan, “Mağdur kadına kadın avukat,” Radikal, 1/11/09.

[141] The two “Gülenist” lawyers allegedly attempting to infiltrate the Istanbul Bar were Tayfun Aktaş and Yüksel Aytekin.

Tayfun Aktaş went on represent figures linked to the Gülen movement (such as prosecutor Zekeriya Öz); he also represented people whom the Gülen movement had targeted like businessman Turgay Ciner. Both these clients opened Aktaş to attacks from pro-government media—in the case of Ciner, the government and its supporters may have been eager to distance themselves from Ciner after leaked phone-recordings revealed how uncomfortably close their connection actually was; following the tapes, it was suggested that Ciner was being blackmailed by Gülenists about even worse things and, therefore, now acting on behalf of the movement. In August 2016, following the July 15 coup attempt, Aktaş was detained.

As for Yüksel Aytekin, he was appointed as a Republic Prosecutor for the district of İdil in the province of Şırnak in 2012. Four years later, we can find a pro-government newspaper columnist accusing him of coordinating with the PKK. following the July 15 coup attempt, Aytekin was one of 132 lawyers and judges detained.

As to whether the inclusion of these two lawyers on the Istanbul Bar board was a sign that Muammer Aydın was partial to the Gülen movement: it is important to consider that Aydın had been critical of the 2010 constitutional referendum to strengthen the government’s control of the judiciary—a referendum whose effect was to increase Gülenist influence since, at that point, the movement and the government had not yet parted ways. On the other hand, following an attempt by Gülen-linked prosecutors to connect AKP leaders with corrupt activities in 2013, Aydın represented one of the Gülenists accused of involvement in the plot

(“İstanbul Barosu: 12 Eylül Anayasası’ndan farksız,” Radikal, 3/25/10; “‘Hukuk siyasete alet edildi’Cumhuriyet, 11/3/10; “Turgay Ciner’i bitirme senaryosu,” Diken, 3/26/14; “O paralel avukatın Turgay Ciner’le şok bağı!” MEDYAGÜNDEM, 4/24/14; “Sanık Fethullah Gülen duruşma başlıyor,” OdaTV, 1/6/16; Yakup Köse, “Bu savcıya dikkat,” Star, 3/19/16; “İdil Cumhuriyet Savcısı gözaltına alındı,” Hürseda, 7/17/16; “Gözaltına Alınan Hakimler ve Savcılar – isim listesi!” En Son Haber, 7/20/16; “Kritik ismin evinde arama,” OdaTV, 8/4/16; Murat Yetkin, “The rise and fall of Gülen in 10 steps,” Hürriyet Daily News, 9/26/16).

[142] In the 2010 Istanbul Bar elections, 19,816 lawyers participated. Ümit Kocasakal (Protect Principles) won 6,080 votes (31%); Muammer Aydın (First Principles), 4,520 (23%); Satılmış Şahin (Rule of Law), 4,055 (20%); Kemal Aytaç (Modern Lawyers), 3,257 (16%); Kemal Güngör (Participatory Lawyers), 1,236 (6%); and Feyzi Çelik (Freedom Law Platform), 678 (3%). This poor third-place showing for the Modern Lawyers Group—contrasted with the very strong showing by both factions of the First Principles Group might be explained by a swing of liberal voters from one coalition to the other. Alternatively, the splinter of the Modern Lawyers Group between a more traditional, a more left-wing group (Participatory Lawyers), and a more Kurdish group (Freedom Law Platform) may fully explain the decline (Ali Dağlar, “İstanbul Barosu için 6 grup yarışıyor,” Hürriyet, 11/6/10; Ahmet Genç, “İstanbul Barosu’nda kritik seçim,” Sol, 11/6/10; Murat Kazancı, “İstanbul Barosu başkanını seçti,” Hürriyet, 11/8/10).

[143] Can Atalay, “İstanbul Barosu’nda Dar Zamanlar: Ayrılık Aşka Dahil Mi?” Bianet, 9/20/08; Can Atalay, “İstanbul Barosu’nda Neler Oluyor?” Bianet, 11/15/10.

[144]Başörtülüler giremez afişi olay oldu,” Internet Haber, 12/15/11; Yasemin Kaya Aydın, “DÜNYA’DA VE TÜRKİYE’DE AVUKATLIK STAJI ve STAJYER AVUKATLARIN SORUNLARI,” Hukuk Gündemi :62-65.

[145] Sude Atılgan, “Barodan seçimi kazanma taktiği,” Marmara Haber, 8/2/12; “Avukatlar baroya karşı yürüdü…Dünya Bülteni, 12/27/11. In 2015, Kocasakal and his allies in the Istanbul Bar association were acquitted of violating interns’ rights (“İstanbul Barosu’nun ‘staj’ davasında karar çıktı,” Cumhuriyet, 6/1/15).

[146] For more detail about the trials of BDP members and others for involvement in the KCK, see “Protesting as a Terrorist Offense,” Human Rights Watch, 11/1/10; “Turkey: Kurdish Party Members’ Trial Violates Rights,” Human Rights Watch, 4/18/11; and observer reports by Tony Fisher posted at the blog Peace in Kurdistan.

[147] Ayşegü Usta, “Avukatların yargılandığı KCK gergin başladı,” Hürriyet, 7/16/12.

[148] Gareth Jenkins argues that the clash between the Gülen movement and the BDP stemmed from the fact that both were competing for influence over the same southeastern population—the Gülen movement through NGOs and the BDP through municipal governance. An additional sign of Gülenist involvement in the prosecutions of the BDP: the judge presiding at the trial Kerestecioğlu attended in July, 2012, Mehmet Ekinci, was also a judge in the bribery prosecution of Fenerbahçe football manager Aziz Yıldırım—a case that some suspected was designed to facilitate Gülenist infiltration of the teams’ board of directors. In any event, following the July 15, 2016 attempted coup, a warrant was issued for Ekinci’s arrest (Gareth Jenkins, “The Latest KCK Arrests: One Step Closer to Breaking Point,” Turkey Analyst 4, no. 21 [2011]; Ayşegü Usta, “Avukatların yargılandığı KCK gergin başladı,” Hürriyet, 7/16/12; “Şike Davası değil, Para Davası,” Cumhuriyet, 1/9/15; “Cemaat’e ‘şike kumpası’ operasyonu,” OdaTV, 4/19/16; Hilal Yıldırım, “FETÖ kumpasçılarının hesap zamanı,” Akşam, 6/18/16).

[149] Barış Avşar, “Dünyanın en büyük barosunda seçim zamanı,” Radikal, 10/12/12.

[150] Hazal Özvarış, “‘İstanbul Barosu’nda militarizm ve ırkçılığa varan ifadeler kullanılıyor…’” T24, 10/1/12.

[151] Cem Tursun, “İstanbul Barosu’na başkan adayı,” Hürriyet, 9/14/12.

[152] Hazal Özvarış, “‘İstanbul Barosu’nda militarizm ve ırkçılığa varan ifadeler kullanılıyor…’” T24, 10/1/12.

[153] Pınar Öğunç, “‘Bazen mahkeme heyetini sarsmak istiyorum,’Radikal, 10/2/12.

[154]Sil baştan sevmek gerek,” Hürriyet, 9/22/12.

[155] Hazal Özvarış, “‘İstanbul Barosu’nda militarizm ve ırkçılığa varan ifadeler kullanılıyor…’” T24, 10/1/12.

[156] The leader of the religious-conservative lawyers group, Rıza Saka, argued that, “As an individual you can do politics, but as a lawyer representing the bar, you can’t” (“Kocasakal’ın vaadi Ergenekon’a destek,” Yeni Safak, 10/15/12).

[157] In criticizing the use of non-Turkish primary languages in court, Kocasakal did say that, should a Turkish citizen really not know Turkish, then he would be the first to defend that citizen (“Baro Başkanı Kocasakal: Anadilde savunma, asla kabul etmiyorum,” Radikal, 10/14/12).

[158] In the 2012 Istanbul Bar elections, 22,019 our of 28,884 lawyers voted (a turnout of 76%). 12, 836 voted for Ümit Kocasakal (58%); 4,650 for Rıza Saka (21%), 3,495 for Filiz Kerestecioğlu (16%), and 1,038 for Muammer Aydın (5%). In 2010, when Kocasakal and Aydın split the First Principles vote, they received a combined 54%; if the two men’s percentages were added together in 2012, the total would have been 63%! (“Kocasakal yeniden başkan,” Hürriyet, 10/15/12).

[159] For biographies of the Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, see “Eş Genel Başkanlar,” HDP; Pinar Tremblay, “Kurdish women’s movement reshapes Turkish politics,” Al-Monitor, 3/25/15; Christopher de Bellaigue, “The battle for Turkey: can Selahattin Demirtas pull the country back from the brink of civil war?The Guardian, 10/20/15.

[160] For a list of the groups that combined to form the HDP in 2012, see “HDK Bileşeni Kurumlar,” Halkların Demokratik Kongresi. Some representative party names include the ’78 Initiative [referencing the revolutionary activity of the late 1970s], Istanbul LGBT, Marxist Stance, Socialist Solidarity Platform, Nor Zartonk [or “New Renascence,” an Armenian group], Rainbow Women Society, and unions in ceramics, food and textiles.

[161] Not all powerful landowners were political conservatives: during the mid-1950s, in fact, it was southeast magnates like Ekrem Alican and Yusif Azizoglu who broke with the Democrat Party to form the liberal Freedom Party and, subsequently, the New Turkey Party (David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds [I.B. Taurus, 2007], 404-08).

[162] For an excellent discussion of Kurdish political parties from 1990-2008, see Nicole Watts, Activists in Office: Kurdish Politics and Protest in Turkey (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2010).

[163] McDowall, 431-33. Video of SHP/HEP representative Leyla Zana finishing her oath in Kurdish and wearing a head band with the Kurdish “national colors” of red, green, and yellow can be seen at: Gonca Şenay, “Yemin krizinden bugüne,” Al Jazeera, 6/23/15. When elected in 2011 as a BDP-allied independent candidate, Zana again caused a stir by substituting the more inclusive “nation of Turkey” for “Turkish nation” in her oath (Okan Konuralp, “Yeminde ‘Türk’ ‘Türkiye’ tartışma,” Hürriyet, 10/2/11).

[164] Marcus, 226-28. Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, and Orhan Doğan were detained on July 1, 1994, formally arrested on July 6, and released on April 21, 2004 (“15 Yıl Önce DEP’lilerin Tutuklanması,” Bianet, 9/30/09).

[165] In 1995, the Kurdish nationalist party HADEP won 4.17% nationally, but did better in provinces like Hakkari (54.2%), Diyarbaki (46.3%), Batman (37.2%), and Van (28%). If there were no national 10% threshold for Turkish political parties to clear in order to enter parliament, HADEP would have won 20-23 seats. With the 10% barrier, the situation was different and worked to the advantage of religious conservatives: in Diyabakir, for example, the Welfare Party (RP) won 18.8% of the votes, but won 50% of seats (Henri Barkey, “The People’s Democracy Party (HADEP): The Travails of a Legal Kurdish Party in Turkey,” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 18, no. 1 [1998]).

[166] Marlies Casier, Joost Jongerden, and Nic Walker, “Fruitless Attempts? The Kurdish Initiative and Containment of the Kurdish Movement in Turkey,” New Perspectives on Turkey 44 (2011): 107-111; Gareth Jenkins, “The Latest KCK Arrests: One Step Closer to Breaking Point,” Turkey Analyst 4, no. 21 (November 2011).

[167] Hakkı Özdal, “HDK: ‘Terörist’ mi birlik arayışı mı?Radikal, 3/8/12; Barış Avşar, “‘Kongre’si bitmeyen parti kuruldu,” Radikal, 10/22/12. Among the most important figures in bringing together left-wing parties under the HDP umbrella was Ertuğrul Kürkçü. Kürkçü had been a leading student radical in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His claim to fame lay in his being the sole survivor of the 1972 “Kızıldere Massacre” in which military forces raided the base of the THKP-C, a militant, left-wing organization that had kidnapped NATO officers in an attempt to halt the executions of another left-wing faction’s members. After being released from prison in 1984, Kürkçü turned academic. No longer a militant, he continued to be involved in politics as a member of Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP). Though the ÖDP was never particularly popular nationally and splinted over the issue of how much to emphasize Kurdish rights, Kürkçü remained well-known and established links to the BDP. In 2011, he was elected as a BDP-allied independent candidate in the province of Mersin. Within a year he was embroiled in controversies such as calling the Turkish military presence in Northern Cyprus and occupation and embracing a member of the PKK while on a visit to the southeast (“ÖDP’de toplu istifa günü,” Evrensel, 1/16/02; Mesut Yeğen, “Türkiye Solu ve Kürt Sorunu,”in Modern Türkiye’de Siyasi Düşünce 8: Sol, eds. Tanıl Bora and Murat Gültekingil [Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2008], 1229; Ufuk Değirmen, “Kürkçü momentum,” Radikal, 6/5/11; “Kıbrıs Barış Harekâtı’na ‘işgal’ dedi,” Hürriyet, 12/13/11; “BDP nin Gercek yüzü-Pkk’li teröristlere sarmas dolaslar,” YouTube, 8/18/12; Ebubakir Karatoprak, “Kürkçü: PKK’lılarla tesadüfen karşıla,” Hürriyet, 8/27/12).

[168] The 2014 Istanbul mayor’s race was a good example of the HDP electoral strategy. The party nominated Sırrı Süreyya Önder, a left-wing activist but not ethnically Kurdish, as its candidate. With 4.81% of the vote, he performed better than the fourth-place Nationalist Action Party (MHP) candidate. In the presidential campaign later in the year, the HDP candidate, Selahattin Demirtaş, nearly doubled Önder’s Istanbul vote, winning 9.09% in the city (For 2014 Istanbul results see “Büyükşehir İstanbul,” Milliyet; for presidential election results see “İSTANBUL SEÇİM SONUÇLARI,” Haberler).

[169] Gökçer Tahincioğlu, “Bu madde taş atmayanı da yakar,” Milliyet, 3/29/10; “Protesting as a Terrorist Offense: The Arbitrary Use of Terrorism Laws to Prosecute and Incarcerate Demonstrators in Turkey,” Human Rights Watch (2010): 29.

[170]Taş atan çocuklar için şiirler,” Radikal, 4/17/09.

[171] By the time Kerestecioğlu was becoming deeply involved with Kurdish issues, she was already a well-established professional in her forties. For younger leftist activists drawn to the movement in the 1990s, however, there were serious risks. The case of Pınar Selek, another cause célèbre to which Kerestecioğlu sometimes lent her support, illustrates these dangers.

In July, 1998, an explosion in the Istanbul Spice Bazaar killed seven and injured over one hundred. The PKK was soon identified as the orchestrators and, within a week of the explosion, Selek was arrested and accused of the murders. When the police arrested her, she was carrying bomb making materials. Selek was the daughter of Alp Selek, a prominent member of the Modern Lawyers Group, and the granddaughter of Cemal Hakkı Selek, a founder of the Turkish Worker Party.

Selek was a sociology graduate student and involved with various NGOs in Istanbul that aimed to help transvestites (many of whom lived in predominantly Kurdish parts of the city). Her research focused on the PKK and, as she told it, in her interviews for the project she had grown friendly with a bomb-maker. He had asked her to act as a courier for materials and she had agreed; but she quickly got cold-feet and was on her way back when the police arrested her. When she refused to give the names of her research contacts to the police, they charged her with the deaths at the Spice Bazaar. As Selek’s trial progressed, however, it emerged that there was no evidence that the explosion at the bazaar had been caused by a bomb.

During the seven-year investigation and prosecution, she spent two and half years in prison. But, lacking evidence that the crime being prosecuted had actually occurred, the court ultimately found her innocent in 2006. This ruling was rejected by the appellate court, which sent the case back to the lower court. In 2008, the lower court again found Selek innocent. The upper court now accepted an appeal by the prosecutor and ordered the lower court to reconsider its decision, the result being a third acquittal in 2011. At this point, Selek left the country and moved to France. Following her third acquittal, the appeals court yet again rejected the lower court’s ruling and the prosecutor requested a life sentence, which the lower court finally handed out. On appeal, this decision was rejected and Selek was acquitted in 2014 for the forth time.

(Serhat Oğuz, “Çarşıda öfke,”Milliyet, 8/19/98; “Tartışmalı bomba davası,”Milliyet, 2/8/99; Serhat Oğuz, “Selek’e tek dava,”Milliyet, 2/11/99; Duygu Asena, “Gerçeğe araştırarak varılır,”Milliyet, 2/19/00; Ayşegül Usta, “Ağırlaştırılmış müebbet istendi,” Hürriyet, 12/29/05; “Pınar Selekle dayanışması,” Milliyet, 1/4/06; “Pınar Selek beraat etti,” Hürriyet, 6/8/06; “Mısır Çarşısı davası silbaştan,” Hürriyet, 5/3/07; Ayşegül Usta, “Selek’in beraati bu kez hükme bağlandı,” Hürriyet, 5/24/08; Ayşegül Usta, and Murat Kazancı, “Pınar Selek’e 3’üncü beraat,” Hürriyet, 2/10/11; Cansu Çamlıbel, “Selek: İlk aşkım İstanbul mutlaka döneceğim,” Hürriyet, 12/17/17; Selahattin Günday, “Pınar Selek’e kötü haber,” Hürriyet, 11/22/12; Zeynul Lüle and Ayşegül Usta, “Pınar Selek’e ağırlaştırılmış müebbet hapis,” Hürriyet, 1/30/13; Toby Cadman,“Turkey, Pinar Selek and the hypothetical crime,” Al Jazeera, 5/3/14; Arzu Çakır Morin, “16 yıldır süren Pınar Selek Davası’nda mutlu son,” Hürriyet, 6/11/14; Ayşegül Usta, “4. kez beraat,” Hürriyet, 12/20/14; Ayhan Erdoğan, “Godot’yu Beklerken: Pınar Selek Davası 17. Yılında,” Bianet, 12/26/14).

[172] For the HDP program, see “HALKLARIN DEMOKRATİK PARTİSİ PROGRAMI.” The CHP program’s statement on gender equality states: “In management, politics, working life, education, law and all other fields, women have the same universal rights and opportunities as men to live free from all types of social and physical pressure. A structural order of necessary positive discriminations can provide this” (“CUMHURİYET HALK PARTİSİ PROGRAMI,” CHP, 23)

[173] This translation is mine; the actual English version on the AKP website reads, “Not because women make up half of our population, they should be considered as individuals before everything else primarily effective for the raising of healthy generations” (“Party Programme,” AKP, 5.7 and in English HERE).

[174] Ece Öztan, “Domesticity of Neoliberalism: Family, Sexuality and Gender in Turkey,” in Turkey Reframed: Constituting Neoliberal Hegemony, eds. Ismet Akça, Ahmet Bekmen, and Barýs Alp Özden (Pluto Press, 2014), 176-82; Demet Özmen Yilmaz, “Socialist Feminist Alternatives to Neoliberalism in Turkey,” in Polarizing Development: Alternatives to Neoliberalism and the Crisis, eds. Lucia Pradella and Thomas Marois (Pluto Press, 2015), 241.

[175] Melinda Negrón-Gonzales argues that the more powerful the AKP government because, the less needed to compromise with groups (like feminist organizations) whose causes have limited popular support in the country. Often, therefore, it has been the combination of their protests with international pressure that has tipped the balance (“The Feminist Movement During the AKP Era in Turkey: Challenges and Opportunities,” Middle Eastern Studies 52, no. 2, [2016]: 205-6).

[176] Öztan, 183-4.

[177]Hülya Gülbahar: AKP’nin kadın politikaları kadınları öldürüyor,” T24, 12/7/15. Interior Minister Sadullah Ergin reported the following recorded murders of women: 2002 (66), 2003 (83), 2004 (164), 2005 (317), 2006 (663), 2007 (1011), 2008 (806), 2009 (953).

[178] The newspaper Birgün highlights some of the more glaring statements made in the past several years by government officials regarding women. These include Environment and Forests Minister Veysel Eroğlu who responded to a female constituent’s call for more jobs to be brought to her region of Afyonkarahisar by saying, “What? Housework isn’t enough for you?” and, of course, the statement by Vice-Prime Minister Bülent Arınç that “women should not laugh in public” (Onur Bayram, “Bakan Eroğlu’ndan iş isteyen kadına garip cevap,” Hürriyet, 3/12/09; Işıl Arslan, “Arınç: Kadınlar herkesin içersinde kahkaha atmayacak,” Hürriyet, 6/29/14; “Bülent Arınç: Kadın Herkesin İçerisinde Kahkaha Atmayacak,” YouTube, 7/29/14).

[179] Misogynistic and/or patronizing comments are not merely made by high-ranking, elected governmental officials; one could also mention advisors to those officials. One petition drive that Kerestecioğlu became involved with illustrates the situation: after Sevan Nişanyan, a writer for the newspaper Agos, dumped a jar full of excrement over his wife’s head, he was criticized by his colleagues. In defense, he described the act as a “jest.” A dozen feminists subsequently wrote to Agos demanding Nişanyan be fired. In response, the paper’s editor Etyen Mahçupyan wrote a column saying that pouring feces over another person’s head was wrong but not related to any particular gender bias; it was the sort of thing anyone might do and [therefore?] he was not going to fire the writer, regardless of what a bunch of feminists might think. More than two-hundred feminists (including Kerestecioğlu) co-signed a letter criticizing Mahçupyan. Mahçupyan continued on his role as editor for two more years before becoming a columnist for the Gülenist newspaper Zaman and then (briefly) an advisor to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. As for Sevan Nişanyan, he is now in jail on charges related to shady real-estate dealings in the town of Şirince (“213 feministten ‘dışkı’ tepkisi,” Radikal, 7/15/08; Etyen Mahçupyan, “Feminizmin bulanık sularında,” Sendika.erg, 7/20/08; Orhan Kemal Cengiz, “Why is Turkish writer Sevan Nisanyan in jail?” Al Monitor, 1/30/14).

[180]Erdoğan: Kadınların ihtiyacı eşitlikten ziyade eşdeğerlik,” Al Jazeera, 11/24/14; “Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Kadın Erkek Eşit Değil Fıtrata Terstir,” YouTube, 6/9/16. Two years later, at another event sponsored by the same organization (KAMER), President Erdoğan offered another opinion: “A woman who refuses motherhood by saying, ‘I’m working,’ is basically denying her womanhood. A women who rejects motherhood, leaves the home and turns her attentions elsewhere, though she may be successful in the business world, is incomplete, half [a women]” (“Erdoğan: Anneliği reddeden kadın, eksiktir, yarımdır,” BBC Türkçe, 6/5/16).

[181]CEDAW Gölge Raporu – 2010,” Uçan Süpürge, 7/22/10.

[182]Kadınlardan ‘bakanlık’ tepkisi,” Gerçek Gündem, 6/7/11. The new Ministry for Women and Social issues combined the General Directorate for the Status of Women, the General Directorate for Family and Social Services, the General Directorate for Children, and the General Directorate for the Elderly and Disabled (Burçin Belge, “Kadın Bakanlığı Kaldırıldı, Kadın Örgütleri Öfkeli,” Bianet, 6/8/11).

[183] In 2011, there were more women in parliament than ever before—14%. Of these representatives, 45 were from the AKP (13% of its total), 19 from the CHP (14%), and 3 from the MHP (6%); the left-wing coalition Labor, Democracy, and Freedom Bloc included 11 female members (about 37%). After November 2015, 17% of parliamentarians were women: 35 were from the AKP (11% of its total), 21 from the CHP (15%), and 3 from the MHP (8%); and 23 (about 39%) (“78 Kadın 472 Erkek Vekil Meclis’te,” Bianet, 6/13/11; Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Kadın Vekil Oranı Düştü; 43 İlden Sadece Erkek Vekil Çıktı,” Bianet, 11/2/15).

[184] As of 2017, Turkey has more female governors than ever before: three women among the eighty-one governors. The way such progress is reported by the media, however, leaves something to be desired: the Sabah article shows one of these three officials in the kitchen cooking (“3 kadın vali görevde,” Sabah, 6/2/16).

[185] For more details on the 2013-14 struggles between the government and the Gülen movement, see Reuben Silverman, “Saving the AKP,” 5/13/14 and “The Shoebox is on the Other Foot: Turkey’s Year of Retaliation,” 12/16/14.

[186] The CHP-MHP presidential candidate, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, did receive support from Kemalist women’s organizations, but he also drew protests for comments equating abortion and “taking a life” (“Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu’na iftar sonrası protesto,” Radikal, 7/22/14; Beyza Kural, “Kadın Partisi İhsanoğlu’nu Neden Destekliyor?” Bianet, 7/22/14).

[187] Ayşe Arman ,“Bazen şiddete uğrayan kadın, bazen Kürt, bazen de bir ağaç, bir katır olabilirim,” Hürriyet, 4/15/15. In the same interview, when asked if she had been the “Kurdish nationalist” candidate in the 2012 bar elections, Kerestecioğlu chose to channel Tom Joad by saying, “I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean and, moreover, I don’t care. But I’ll say this: I had two idols as a lawyer Halit Çelenk ve Gülçin Çaylıgil. I always saw them fighting against injustice . . .Wherever there might be someone experiencing injustice, I would be one of them. Sometimes that might be a survivor of domestic abuse, sometimes a Kurd, sometimes an Armenian, sometimes the LGBT community, sometimes a place where trees are being cut, or even animals murdered!”

[188] The HDP won 12.33% of the vote in Kerestecioğlu’s Istanbul 2nd District, which includes Bayrampaşa, Beşiktaş, Beyoğlu, Esenler, Eyüp, Fatih, Gaziosmanpaşa, Kağıthane, Sarıyer, Sultangazi, Şişli, and Zeytinburnu (“İstanbul 2. Bölge 7 Haziran 2015 Genel Seçim Sonuçları,” Haberler).

[189] Burcu Karakaş,”Dolmabahçe’de tarihi açıklama,” Milliyet, 3/1/16. For more detail on the clashes between the PKK and government forces in 2014, see “Turkey and the PKK: Saving the Peace Process,” International Crisis Group Europe Report 234 (November 11, 2014): 36-39; for more on the politics in Ankara, see Reuben Silverman, “Some of the President’s Men: Yıldırım, Davutoglu, and the ‘Palace Coup’ Before the Coup,” 8/1/16.

[190]Suruç’ta katliam: 31 ölü, 104 yaralı,” BBC Türkçe, 7/21/15; “Demirtaş Suruç hakkında açıklama yaptı,” Hürriyet, 7/21/15. For short biographies of many Suruç victims, see “Patlamada ölen hukuk öğrencisi Nuray Koşan’dan yürek burkan paylaşım,” Hürriyet, 7/21/15.

[191]Şanlıurfa’da 2 polis şehit oldu, saldırıyı terör örgütü PKK üstlendi,” HaberTürk, 7/22/15. Immediately following the murder of the two policemen, investigators accused the PKK (or militants allied with it). The PKK leadership, however, denied involvement. Following the July 15 coup attempt, the presiding judge was removed from his post for alleged ties to the Gülenist movement, leading some to wonder if the movement had been involved in scuttling the peace process (Mahmut Hamsici, “Kandil: Çözüm süreci yeniden başlatılabilir, zor değil,” BBC Türkçe, 7/29/15; Mahmut Hamsici,“Bayık: Artık tek taraflı ateşkes olmayacak,” BBC Türkçe, 11/30/15; “Ceylanpınar’da 2 polisin öldürülmesinde ‘FETÖ’ şüphesi: Hâkim ve ihbarcılar darbe girişiminden tutuklandı,” T24, 8/6/16).

[192] Ezgi Başaran, “Yeni bombalı saldırı tahmin ettiğimizden yakın,” Radikal, 7/23/15. For biographies of many of those murdered in the October 2015 Ankara bombing, see Beyza Kural and Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Ankara’da Hayatını Kaybedenlerin Hikayeleri,” Bianet, 11/12/15.

[193]Selahattin Demirtaş’tan sert açıklamalar,”Hürriyet, 10/10/16.

[194] For an interactive map of curfews and deaths from August 16, 2015 to August 16, 2016, see “Sokağa Çıkma Yasakları ve Sivil Ölümler,” Hafıza Merkezi; “Harita, Çizelge ve Grafiklerle Sokağa Çıkma Yasakları ve Sivil Ölümler,” Bianet, 2/11/16.

[195] For a detailed account of events in the Diyarbakır district of Sur, see “The Human Cost of the PKK Conflict in Turkey: The Case of Sur,” International Crisis Group Europe Briefing 80 (March 17, 2016); Berkay Mandıracı, “Turkey’s PKK Conflict: The Death Toll,” International Crisis Group; “Turkey’s PKK Conflict: The Rising Toll,” International Crisis Group).

[196] Among the 1,552 reported deaths by the Diyarbakır Human Rights Association, 614 were identified militants; 422 were security forces allied with the government; 440 were citizens killed without judicial proceedings or evidence to confirm any militant affiliation, many of whom died from wounds and lack of medical access during curfews; 76 were civilians killed by either militants or security forces (“ÇATIŞMALI ORTAMLARDA MEYDANA GELEN İNSAN HAKLARI İHLALLERİ (24 TEMMUZ 2015 – 24 TEMMUZ 2016,” İnsan Hakları Derneği Diyarbakır Şubesi). For a good overall account of deaths in southeast violence, see “Sayılarla 1984’ten 2016’ya PKK ile Çatışmalardaki Ölümler,” 140 Journos, 8/15/16.

[197] Among the 1,302 reported deaths by the Human Rights Association in 2016, there were 816, militants, 456 security forces, and 30 civilians (“2016 YILI DOĞU VE GÜNEYDOĞU ANADOLU BÖLGESİ: BİLANÇO,” İnsan Hakları Derneği Diyarbakır Şubesi).

[198] In calling for individual HDP members to be stripped of parliamentary immunity and prosecuted, President Erdoğan was offering a more “moderate” solution than the recent call by MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli to close the HDP entirely (“Bahçeli’den HDP için kapatma talebi,” Cumhuriyet, 7/26/15; “Erdoğan: HDP’li yöneticilerin dokunulmazlık zırhı kaldırılarak bedel ödetilmeli!” T24, 7/28/15).

[199]TSK: Dağlıca’da 16 asker şehit,” BBC Türkçe, 9/7/15; “Birçok ilde HDP binaları saldırıya uğradı,” Evrensel, 9/7/15; “Türkiye’de Dağlıca protestoları, HDP binalarına saldırılar,” BBC Türkçe, 9/8/15; “HDP Genel Merkez’e faşist saldırı: Bina ateşe verildi,” Birgün, 9/8/15. For biographies of the Turkish soldiers killed at Dağlıca, see “Dağlıca’da şehit olan 16 askerin kimlikleri belli oldu!Gazete Vatan, 9/7/15.

[200] These were hardly the first (or last) attacks on HDP buildings (Kenan Tekeş, “Unutmamak ve Hatırlamak için: HDP’ye Saldırılar,” Bianet, 5/16/15). For an excellent map of attacks on HDP buildings, see HERE.

[201]Hürriyet Gazetesi’ne taşlı sopalı saldırı,” BBC Türkçe, 9/7/15; “Hürriyet binasının girişine saldırı,” Hürriyet, 9/8/15; “Hürriyet Gazetesi’ne ikinci saldırı,” Hürriyet, 9/9/15.

[202]Erdoğan’dan milli seferberlik çağrısı,” Sabah, 12/17/16; “Yurdun çeşitli yerlerinde HDP binalarına saldırı,” Cumhuriyet, 9/17/16; “HDP binalarına saldırılar,” BBC Türkçe, 12/18/16. For biographies of the soldiers murdered in the Kayseri attack, see “Şehitlerin acı hikayeleri,” Cumhuriyet, 12/18/16.

[203] For November 1, 2015 election statistics, see “1 Kasım 2015 Türkiye Geneli Seçim Sonuçları,” Haberler.

[204] Yunus Emre, “CHP ve dokunulmazlık: İlkesizlik ve politikasızlık,” Al Jazeera, 5/19/16; “Meclis son sözü söyledi: Dokunulmazlıklar kalktı,” Diken, 5/20/16. The immunity vote caused heated debate within the CHP parliamentary caucus where fifty members were also under investigation. Though CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu assured that the party would support every individual prosecuted, leading members of the party broke with him and joined an appeal to the Constitutional Court to reject the amendment in its entirety (“CHP, HDP take immunity bill to Constitutional Court,” Daily Sabah, 5/26/16).

[205] Ayşe Arman,“Bu seçimin sonucunu kadınlar ve gençler belirledi,” Hürriyet, 6/10/15.

[206] Ayşe Arman, “Başka şeylere müsamaha ediyoruz ama ONLAR olmaz!Hürriyet, 7/1/15.

[207]İstanbul’da Onur Yürüyüşü’ne polis müdahalesi,” BBC Türkçe, 6/28/15. The following year’s Trans Pride Parade was also met with force from the police (“İstanbul’daki Trans Onur Yürüyüşü’ne polis müdahalesi,” BBC Türkçe, 6/19/16).

[208] The right to choose one’s last name was an issue that Kerestecioğlu returned to frequently. One anecdote she repeated was of a court case in which she’d represented a client seeking the right. Despite Kerestecioğlu’s preparation and careful legal arguments, when she had arrived in court, the judge simply told her, “What you’re saying is impossible here,” and rejected her case (Meltem Akyol, “HDP Adayı Filiz Kerestecioğlu: Yeterince erkek siyaseti gördük,” Evrensel, 4/26/15; “Kadının soyadı hakkı için kanun teklifi verildi,” Hürriyet, 7/16/15). [Thanks to Nazar Bağcı for giving to me a sense of what O senin dediğin asma yaprağı her zaman olmaz means.]

[209]‘Eşcinsellik en büyük tehditlerden biri,’” Hürriyet, 2/17/16.

[210] Aziz Özen, “Acil önlem istediler,” Hürriyet, 7/6/15; Murat Deliklitaş and Özgür Eren, “Kadınlardan ‘silahlar sussun’ eylemi,” Hürriyet, 8/2/15; “‘Savaşa Karşı Barış’ için iş bıraktılar,” Hürriyet, 12/29/15; “İngiliz akademisyen Chris Stephenson serbest kaldı, savcı ‘sınırdışı edilmesini’ talep etti,” Hürriyet, 3/16/16; Fırat Alkaç, “İstanbul Adalet Sarayı önünde avukatlara müdahale,” Hürriyet, 3/17/16.

[211] Arzu Kaya, “HDP’li milletvekili ifadeye çağırıldı,” Hürriyet, 7/14/16; Arzu Kaya, “HDP Milletvekili Kerestecioğlu’na 3 yıla kadar hapis istemi,” Hürriyet, 11/17/16.

[212] In January 2016, 1,128 academics in Turkey signed a petition calling for an end to violence in the southeast, accusing the state of “deliberate and planned” murder and deportations, and announcing “We will not be party to this crime.” In the coming month, the number of domestic signatories rose to 2,212. The Justice Minister captured the government’s response by scoffing, “Who do they think is digging the trenches [in southeast towns]—aliens? . . .These people lack comprehension of [the situation].” President Erdoğan declared that if these signatories wanted to play politics outside parliament, they should “go to the mountains or dig trenches.” At the same time, universities were launching internal investigations of employees who had signed the petition and prosecutors were beginning investigations. Within days, thirteen academics had been removed from their jobs and over thirty had been detained. Four were arrested in March for holding a public discussion of the situation in the southeast and the pressure that signatories were experiencing. Following the coup attempt, the focus of government attention shifted—but, nonetheless, 115 of the 330 academics removed from their posts in February via executive order had been signatories to the petition (“Bozdağ’dan Akademisyenlere: Sanki Hendekleri Uzaylılar Kazdı,” Bianet, 1/13/16; “Erdoğan’dan Akademisyenlere: Dağa Çıksınlar Veya Hendek Kazsınlar,” Bianet, 1/15/16; “‘Barış İçin Akademisyenler’in 1128 imzayla açıkladığı bildirinin tam metni,” T24, 1/16/16; “Bildirinin Ardından Bir Hafta: 109 Soruşturma, 33 Gözaltı, 2 Bin 200 İmza,” Bianet, 1/18/16; “Ankara’da 395 İmzacı Akademisyen İçin Soruşturma Talebi,” Bianet, 3/4/16; Beyza Kural, “Dört Akademisyene ‘Barış Talebinde Israrcıyız’ Açıklaması Nedeniyle Yakalama Kararı,” Bianet, 3/14/16; “Son KHK’yla ihraç edilen 330 akademisyenin 115’i ‘barış bildirisi’ imzacısı,” Diken, 2/8/17; “Barış Akademisyenleri son bir yılda neler yaşadı?” Journo, 2/15/17).

For petitions in support of the Academics for Peace and statements from Kerestecioğlu in support, see “HDP’li Kerestecioğlu’ndan akademisyenlere baskıya tepki,” CNNTürk, 1/14/16; “Hdp Grubu Önerisi Münasebetiyle,” TBMM, 1/14/16; “611 akademisyenden ifade özgürlüğü bildirisi,” Hürriyet, 1/18/16; “Akademisyenlere 10 Günde Gelen Tüm Destekler,” Bianet, 1/21/16; “Akademisyenlere Dünyaca Tanınan Meslektaşlarından Destek,” Bianet, 1/20/16.

[213] Though the CHP appealed two executive orders to the Constitutional Court, it rejected the appeal on the grounds that it lacked the authority to rule on the orders (Fundanur Öztürk, “Anayasa Mahkemesi, KHK’ları inceleme yetkisine sahip mi?” BBC Türkçe, 9/23/16; “Anayasa Mahkemesi KHK’ların iptal başvurusunu neden reddetti?” Birgün, 11/8/16).

[214] The following summaries of executive orders rely heavily on my translations of work by reporters at Bianet. These are just summaries, the actual orders contain many additional details I am skimming over here:

Executive Order (KHK) 667: Closed 35 medical institutions, 934 schools, 109 student dorms, 104 foundations, 1,123 associations, 15 universities, and 19 unions; the length of detentions without seeing a judge was increased to 30 days; arrested members of the military were to be treated without respect to rank (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Alınan Tedbirlere İlişkin Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 7/23/16; “OHAL’de ilk kararname,” Hürriyet, 7/23/16).

Executive Order (KHK) 668: Removed 1684 members of the military (from the army: 87 generals, 726 officers, and 256 noncommissioned officers; from the navy: 32 admirals; 59 officers; and 63 noncommissioned officers; from the air force: 30 generals, 314 officers, 117 noncommissioned officers). Those expelled lost their license to carry a firearm, their pilot’s licenses, and were given fifteen days to vacate their state-provided homes; they were prohibited from working for private security firms. Also closed 3 news agencies, 16 television stations, 23 radio stations, 15 magazines, and 29 publishing houses. The Gendarmerie was attached to the Interior Ministry (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Alınması Gereken Tedbirler ile Bazı Kurum ve Kuruluşlara Dair Düzenleme Yapılması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 7/27/16; “OHAL’in 2. Kararnamesi: TSK’den İhraç, Medyada Kapatmalar,” Bianet, 7/28/16; “131 Yayın Organı Kapatıldı,” Bianet, 7/28/16).

Executive Order (KHK) 669: Closed military academies, military schools, and noncommissioned officer training schools; established a National Defense University attached to the Ministry of Defense (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Tedbirler Alınması ve Milli Savunma Üniversitesi Kurulması ile Bazı Kanunlarda Değişiklik Yapılmasına Dair Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 7/31/16; “Askeri okullar kapatıldı, Milli Savunma Üniversitesi kuruldu,” Hürriyet, 7/31/16).

Executive Order (KHK) 670: Removed 2,360 government officials in the security administration (Emniyet); 196 from the Information and Communication Technology Authority (BTK); and an additional 136 from the armed forces, of whom 24 were coast guard officials (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Alınması Gereken Tedbirler Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 8/17/16; “İki KHK Daha: Kamu Kurumlarına Düzenleme ve İhraç Listesi,” Bianet, 8/17/16).

Executive Order (KHK) 671: Closed the Telecommunications Authority (TİB) and merged it with the Information and Communication Technology Authority (BTK); allowed president to appoint the head of the armed forces with advice of cabinet; allowed former air force pilots the opportunity to return to duty; government officials found to be cheating on the 2010 KPSS test will have their promotions canceled; any outstanding debts to the Social Security system that civilians killed during the July 15 coup attempt had incurred will be erased; 38,000 prisoners will be paroled (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Kurum ve Kuruluşlara İlişkin Düzenleme Yapılması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 8/17/16; “İki KHK Daha: Kamu Kurumlarına Düzenleme ve İhraç Listesi,” Bianet, 8/17/16; Baris Kilic and Serdar Acil, “Turkish prosecutor files new indictment in exam fraud,” Anadolu Ajansi, 11/17/16).

Executive Order (KHK) 672: Removes 7,669 security administration officials, 323 gendarmerie officers, 2 coast guard officials, 24 central governors, and several academics. Forbids officials removed from office for involvement with “terrorist organizations” from securing new public sector employment; they are prohibited from memberships on boards and commissions; they lose their firearms and pilots licenses, have fifteen days to vacate state-provided housing, are prohibited from working from private security firms, cannot use their former titles (like ambassador, etc.), and their passports connected to their jobs are canceled (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Kamu Personeline İlişkin Alınan Tedbirlere Dair Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 9/1/16; “Üç Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Bianet, 9/2/16).

Executive Order (KHK) 673: Allows retired judges to return to jobs in government; orders parole-monitoring boards to hold new elections within ten days; ends the “student” status of 158 students who studied abroad in Gülen-linked institutions; delays retirements for those who had put in a month’s notice (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Tedbirler Alınması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 9/1/16; “Üç Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Bianet, 9/2/16).

Executive Order (KHK) 674: Established a “Forensic Data Processing Office” in the Forensic Medicine Institution staffed by a central office of 171 and a countryside staff of 121; empowers governors to remove mayors and members of city legislatures found to have ties to “terror organizations” and turn over responsibility for municipal services to the Investment Monitoring and Coordination Authority; the work of trustees appointed to oversee seized private enterprises will now be carried out by the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Düzenlemeler Yapılması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 9/1/16; “Üç Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Bianet, 9/2/16).

Executive Order (KHK) 675: Reinstates 2 generals, 9 pilots, and 37 other military officers whose names had been on the removal lists in previous KHKs. Likewise, reinstates 3 parliament staff, 31 Ministry of Education officials, 1 Disaster and Emergency Management official. Those who return to work in ten days will be compensated for time lost. Extends the time period during which those suspended from work after the coup attempt (but before the state of emergency was declared) can be investigated. Gives the title of “gazi” (warrior) to civilians and public officials injured during the coup. Protects financial institutions that provided services to companies closed by KHK laws. Closes 15 publishing houses; removes 10,131 public employees, limits the time suspects can see lawyers; allows president to select university rectors, and removes 1,267 academics (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Tedbirler Alınması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 10/29/16; “675 Sayılı KHK Ne Düzenlemeler Getirdi?” Bianet, 10/29/16).

Executive Order (KHK) 676: Limits the number of lawyers who can represent a suspect accused of connection to a terrorist organization in court to three and forbids lawyers under investigation for similar crimes to from being involved in such a defense; limits the length of time a defendant accused of drugs sales in support of a terror organization can offer a defense. Gives the Interior Ministry representation on the Defense Industry Executive Committee. Enables the state to deport individuals under investigation for terrorism ties by international institutions (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Düzenlemeler Yapılması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 10/29/16; “676 Sayılı KHK’da Neler Var?” Bianet, 10/30/16).

Executive Order (KHK) 677: [Excluding numbers lower than 100] Removes 1,259 army officers, 391 navy officers, 338 air force officers, 403 gendarmerie officers, 7,586 General Security Directorate officials, 2,696 from the Interior Ministry, 1,184 from the Higher Education Board, 752 from the Health Ministry, 526 from the Treasury Ministry, 131 from the Health Ministry, and 119 from the Education Ministry. Allows around 150 officials removed in KHK 672 and 675 to return to work. Closes 375 associations (including ones associated various lawyers groups), 9 publishers, and 19 private healthcare providers (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Tedbirler Alınması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 11/22/16; “375 Dernek, 9 Basın Kuruluşu Kapatıldı, 15.726 Kişi Meslekten İhraç Edildi,” Bianet, 11/22/16; “İki yeni KHK yayımlandı; devletten 16 bine yakın personel ihraç edildi!” T24, 11/22/16).

Executive Order (KHK) 678: Allows children and siblings of those murdered during the coup an exemption from military service; if they are already serving, they can leave early. Gives the cabinet the authority to delay strikes for sixty days (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Düzenlemeler Yapılması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 11/22/16; “375 Dernek, 9 Basın Kuruluşu Kapatıldı, 15.726 Kişi Meslekten İhraç Edildi,” Bianet, 11/22/16; “İki yeni KHK yayımlandı; devletten 16 bine yakın personel ihraç edildi!” T24, 11/22/16; “678 Sayılı KHK ile toplu taşımada grevler ertelenebilecek,” Evrensel, 11/22/16). 

Executive Order (KHK) 679: Closes 83 associations. Removes thousands of officials from office. Including [and these are only the institutions where the number exceeded 100, which leaves out a very large number] 135 from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, 1,699 officials from the Ministry of Justice, 2,687 from the police force administration, 180 from the General Directorate of Labor in Turkey, 261 from the Social Security Authority, 114 from the Ministry of Customs and Commerce, 310 from the Revenue Administration, 435 from the army command, 160 from the navy command, 168 from the air force command, 838 from the Ministry of Health, 631 academic personnel, and 155 administrative personnel. Around 300 officials previously removed by KHK orders were given their jobs back with compensation for time lost on the condition that they return within ten days. Encourages officials who had retired from the General Security Directorate to return to work. Re-opens 11 newspapers (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Tedbirler Alınması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 1/6/17; “679 Sayılı KHK Ne Düzenlemeler Getirdi?” Bianet, 1/7/17).

Executive Order (KHK) 680: Allows the government to strip citizenship from anyone under investigation for serious crimes who does not return to Turkey when requested. Strengthens the penalties for media outlets that broadcast information that serves to advance the goals of terrorists [i.e. images and information relating to terror attacks that are not approved by the government]. Allows investigations and prosecutions of judges, prosecutors, and military judges to be carried out by prosecutors and lower courts in the province where the alleged offense occurred; investigations of Constitutional Court members and High Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) officials will now be handled by the Supreme Court (Yargitay). Gives police authority to access the user data of suspects in cases of online crime (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Düzenlemeler Yapılması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 1/6/17; “Üç Yeni KHK,” Bianet, 1/6/17; “680 Sayılı KHK ile Ne Düzenlemeler Getirildi?” Bianet, 1/7/17).

Executive Order (KHK) 681: Increases the Defense Ministry’s direct control over the armed forces, giving it the authority to investigate officers and make administrative decisions. Allows soldiers with only primary education to reach the rank of specialist (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Milli Savunma ile İlgili Bazı Düzenlemeler Yapılması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 1/6/17; “681 Sayılı KHK ile Ne Düzenlemeler Getirildi?” Bianet, 1/7/17).

Executive Order (KHK) 682: Introduces a new point-based discipline system for military officers in which officers exceeding twenty points in a year or forty points in five years are liable for dismissal (sleeping on duty or going to a kırathane while on duty, for example, receive 3 points). Authorizes district heads to discipline gendarmerie and coast guard officers below the rank of colonel; for colonel and upwards, governors and ministers are authorized to give punishments (“Genel Kolluk Disiplin Hükümleri Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 1/23/17: “Kolluk güçlerine KHK düzenlemesi; yılda 20 ceza puanı alan meslekten men edilecek,” T24, 1/24/16).

Executive Order (KHK) 683: Closes 2 television stations. Removes 367 officials from office including 134 from the Interior Ministry and 186 from the Health Ministry. 124 previously removed officials are offered to return to their positions, including 73 from the Ministry of Religious Affairs (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Tedbirler Alınması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 1/23/17; “Resmi Gazete’de Dört KHK Yayınlandı,” Bianet, 1/23/17).

Executive Order (KHK) 684: Reduces the thirty-day period that a suspect may be detained without seeing a judge to seven days—and an additional seven with a prosecutor’s request (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Düzenlemeler Yapılması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 1/23/17; “Resmi Gazete’de Dört KHK Yayınlandı,” Bianet, 1/23/17).

Executive Order (KHK) 685: Establishes a seven-person commission to review executive orders issued during the state of emergency: three members will be public officials determined by the Prime Minister, one will be from the Justice Ministry, one from the civil administrator from the Interior Ministry, one from the Supreme Court, and one from the administrative court. The commission will last for two years (“Olağanüstü Hal İşlemleri İnceleme Komisyonu Kurulması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 1/23/17; “KHK’lara İtirazları Değerlendirecek OHAL Komisyonu Kuruldu,” Bianet, 1/23/17; Kerem Altıparmak, “OHAL Komisyonu Etkili Bir Hukuk Yolu mu?” Bianet, 1/31/17).

Executive Order (KHK) 686: Removes 4,464 public officials from their positions and offers 17 previously removed official the chance to return. Institutions with more than 100 officials removed include the Gendarmerie General Command (893), General Security Directorate (417), the National Education Ministry (2,585), and the Higher Education Board (330)(“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Tedbirler Alınması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazete, 2/7/17; “686 Sayılı KHK’le 4 bin 464 Kişi Kamu Görevinden Çıkartıldı,” Bianet, 2/7/17).

Executive Order (KHK) 687: Removes the Supreme Election Board’s authority to enforce equal time for parties or punish one-sided coverage of political issues. It also empowers officials to require snow tires depending on weather conditions (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Düzenlemeler Yapılması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname.” Resmi Gazete, 2/9/17; “Referanduma Hazırlık: 687 Sayılı KHK Yayımlandı, YSK Özel TV’lere Artık Ceza Kesemeyecek,” Bianet, 2/9/17; “687 sayılı KHK Resmi Gazete’de yayımlandı,” Akşam, 2/9/17).

Executive Order (KHK) 688: Returns 416 (previously removed) officials to their posts. From the publication of the order, these employees are given ten days to return to work (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Tedbirler Alınması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazetesi, 3/29/17; “İhraç Edilen 37 Akademisyen 688 Sayılı KHK ile Göreve Döndü,” Bianet, 3/30/17)

Executive Order (KHK) 689: Removes 3,974 public employees from positions in the military and academia—among these were 484 academics. Returns 731 previously removed officials to their posts (including 18 academics). Cuts scholarships to 59 Turkish students studying at universities overseas. Closes 14 associations and reopens 5 previously closed ones (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Tedbirler Alınması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazetesi, 4/29/17; “İki Yeni KHK Yayımlandı,” Bianet, 4/29/17).

Executive Order (KHK) 690: Creates 7,000 positions to maintain security in rural markets and neighborhoods; bans television programs where contestants look for spouses; requires university to secure approval from the Presidency of the Higher Education Council before going abroad; gives the Education Ministry the authority to remove recognition of the university degrees issued by overseas institutions deemed to be working counter to the Turkish state (“Olağanüstü Hal Kapsamında Bazı Düzenlemeler Yapılması Hakkında Kanun Hükmünde Kararname,” Resmi Gazetesi, 4/29/17; “İki Yeni KHK Yayımlandı,” Bianet, 4/29/17).

[215] For helpful links and graphics regarding the numbers and locations of academics removed from their positions, see Beyza Kural, “5 KHK, 112 Üniversite, 4811 Akademisyene İhraç,” Bianet, 2/8/17.

[216]Sosyal Medyadan 948 Gözaltı, 248 Tutuklama,” Bianet, 2/7/16.

[217] Rengin Arslan, “Gazeteci Ahmet Şık tutuklandı,” BBC Türkçe, 12/30/16.

[218] Elana Beiser, “Turkey’s crackdown propels number of journalists in jail worldwide to record high,” Committee to Protect Journalists, 12/13/16. At the website Committee to Protect Journalists, Özgür Öğret maintains an incredible weekly update of events in Turkey, available at “Turkey,” Committee to Protect Journalists.

[219] As of February 15, 2017, HDP members of parliament who have been arrested include party co-presidents Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, parliamentary group president İdris Balüken, Şırnak representatives Leyla Birlik and Ferhat Encü, Diyarbakır representatives Nursel Aydoğan and Çağlar Demirel, Mardin representative Gülser Yıldırım, Hakkari representatives Selma Irmak, Abdullah Zeydan, and Nihat Akdoğan, Siirt representative Besime Konca, Adana representative Meral Danış Beştaş, and Kars representative Ayhan Bilgen. İdris Balüken and Leyla Birlik were released in January 2017 (“Demirtaş ve Yüksekdağ dahil 9 HDP milletvekili tutuklandı,” BBC Türkçe, 11/4/16; “HDP’nin tutuklu milletvekili sayısı 12’ye yükseldi,” Evrensel, 12/13/16; “Meral Danış Beştaş Tutuklandı,” Bianet, 1/31/17). Two other representatives Faysal Sarıyıldız and Tuğba Hezer Öztürk left the country in May, after their parliamentary immunity was lifted (“Şok iddia: Faysal Sarıyıldız ve Tuğba Hezer Türkiye’yi terk etti,” Sözcü, 5/20/16; “HDP’den ‘vekiller kaçtı’ iddiasına ilişkin açıklama,” CNNTürk, 5/20/16). The Turkish nationalist newspaper Yeni Asır has a good run-down of the accusations against HDP members: Figen Yüksekdağ’s charges stem from her declaring, “We support [the various Kurdish militants in Syria] and see no harm in saying or defending this.” Since the government of Turkey now sees those groups as equivalent to the PKK, prosecutors argue that the statement constitutes supporting terrorism. Faysal Sarıyıldız is accused of transporting weapons to Kurdish militants in Syria, using his parliamentary immunity to avoid inspections. Ferhat Encü was accused of attacking the governor of his district with the intention of killing him after the governor appeared at the funeral of thirty-four civilian residents who had been killed in a botched government airstrike; though found innocent on January 20, 2017, Encü remains in jail on another [to me unclear] charge. Nursel Aydoğan is accused of giving medical assistance to two wounded PKK militants in 2014 (Özgür Cebe, “Hepsinin terör suçu dosyaları kabarık,” Yeni Asır, 11/4/16; Hasan Atmaca, “‘Yaralı PKK’lıyı HDP’li vekil tedavi ettirdi’ iddiası,” Haber Turk, 3/4/16; “HDP’li Ferhat Encü’ye ‘linç girişimi’ davasından tahliye,” Cumhuriyet, 1/20/17; “HDP’li Vekillere Tutuklama ve Gözaltıların Kronolojisi,” Bianet, 1/21/17).

[220]Yeni HDP Grup Başkanvekilleri Seçildi,” Bianet, 12/14/16.

[221] HDP parliamentarians detained but not arrested [as of 2/15/17]are: Istanbul representatives Sırrı Süreya Önder and Hüda Kaya, Diyarbakır representatives Ziya Pir, Altan Tan, Nimetullah Erdoğmuş, and İmam Taşçıer, Batman representative Ayşe Acar Başaran, Tunceli representative Alican Önlü, Iğdır representatives Pervin Buldan and Emin Adıyaman, Van representative Lezgin Botan, Şanlıurfa representatives Osman Baydemir and Dilek Öcalan, Ağrı representative Leyla Zana, and Muş representative Ahmet Yıldırım (“3 ayda 26 HDP milletvekili gözaltına alındı, 12’si tutuklandı,” Hürriyet, 1/29/17; “Gözaltına Alınan HDP Van Vekili Lezgin Botan Serbest Bırakıldı,” Bianet, 1/30/17; “Leyla Zana serbest bırakıldı,” Sabah, 2/8/17).

[222] Figen Yüksekdağ was sentenced to ten months for attending the 2012 memorial service of a Marxist-Leninist Communist Party member who had died when the bomb she was carrying in her backpack went off accidentally (“Üzerinde bomba patlayan kadın kuryeymiş,” Hürriyet, 2/11/12; Soner Yalçın, “Yasemin Çiftçi’nin cenaze törenine,” Sözcü, 11/4/16; “HDP Eşgenel Başkanı Yüksekdağ’ın Vekilliği Düştü,” Bianet, 2/21/17; “Demirtaş’a 5 Ay Hapis Cezası,” Bianet, 2/21/17).

[223]HDP’li Sırrı Süreyya Önder’e ‘Öcalan selamı’ndan fezleke,” Birgün, 5/12/16.

[224]DTK Sonuç Bildirgesi, Türkçe ve Kürtçe Tam Metin,” Bianet, 12/27/15; “DTK Deklarasyonu Tartışmaları: Kim Ne Dedi?” Bianet, 12/30/15 “Sırrı Süreyya Önder gözaltına alındı, ifadesinden sonra serbest bırakıldı,” Cumhuriyet, 1/23/17. Önder is also accused of being a PKK member on account of his 2013 visit to the Kandil mountains to visit the PKK leadership (“Sırrı Süreyya Önder’in Kandil’deki fotoğrafına hapis istendi!” Amed Today, 12/8/16).

[225]PKK’lı cenazesi taşıyan HDP milletvekiline soruşturma,” DHA, 9/3/15; “HDP’li Hezer hakkında ‘terör’ soruşturması başlatıldı,” T24, 2/22/16; “Tuba Hezer’in erkek kardeşi çatışmada ölmüş, kız kardeşi YPG’de,” Sabah, 2/25/16; “Aranan HDP’li Tuğba Hezer Öztürk’e ömür boyu hapis istemi,” Hürriyet, 11/23/16. In March it emerged that two AKP representatives from the southeast had also visited funerals and offered condolences to families of Kurdish militants. One of the representatives pointed out that his visit was to a family’s whose son was a militant in the Syrian YPG (which, he stressed, the government of Turkey had not at the time declared to be terrorists); the other representative, lacking such an out simply denied the accusations (“AKP’li vekil de PKK’ya taziyede bulunmuş,” Sözcü, 2/24/16; Rifat Başaran and Gizem Karakış, “Galip Ensarioğlu: ‘Taziyeye gittim ama o zaman PYD terör örgütü değildi,’” Hürriyet, 3/25/16).

[226] For excellent lists and graphs explaining which southeastern districts have been assigned trustees and which provincial officials have been arrested, see Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Hangi Belediyelere Kayyum Atandı? Hangi Belediye Başkanları Tutuklu?” Bianet, 11/17/16; “35 DBP’li Belediyeye Kayyum Atandı, 45 Belediye Eşbaşkanı Cezaevinde,” Bianet, 11/29/16; “Her 5 DBP’li Belediyeden 2’sine Kayyum Atandı,” Bianet, 12/16/16; “Bismil Belediyesine Kayyum Atandı,” Bianet, 2/4/17; “Doğubayazıt Belediyesi Eşbaşkanları Tutuklandı,” Bianet, 2/5/17.

[227]Kaymakam Safitürk’ün Öldürülmesini YPS Üstlendi,” Bianet, 11/11/16.

[228] The legislator who chained herself to the podium, Aylin Nazlıaka, was an independent because she had been expelled from the CHP in March 2016 for accusing another party member of removing a picture of Atatürk from his office. As for her AKP sparing partner, Gökçen Özdoğan Enç: she had made headlines the previous week for holding up a sign in parliament that said, “No Entry for Dogs.” The sign was directed at the CHP since, on the day previous, another fight had broken out in parliament after which an AKP participant in the melee had accused a CHP member of biting him on the leg (“Aylin Nazlıaka CHP’den ihraç edildi,” Milliyet, 3/4/16; “AK Partili vekillerden ‘Dikkat! Köpek giremez’ yazısı,” Hürriyet, 1/12/17; Aysel Alp, Selahattin Sönmez, Gizem Karakış, and Bülent Sarıoğlu, “Meclis’te tarihi kavga! Kadın vekiller birbirine girdi,” Hürriyet, 1/19/17).

[229] TBMM Tutanak, 1/20/17.


Announcement for Anti-Domestic Violence March on May, 17 1987 (Feminist, May 1987)