He also said he found the naysayers unable to provide any reasons to vote “no” in the referendum, adding that he believes opponents of the reform package are indeed opponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). According to Lagendijk, it would be better for naysayers to state openly that they hate the AK Party and will therefore vote against the reform package on Sept. 12 instead of hiding behind the arguments of the “no” front.
Lagendijk also said it is high time for Turkey to confront coup instigators. The military has overthrown four governments since 1960. It is still believed to be engaged in plans to “get rid of” the AK Party government. Several coup plans, believed to have been prepared by active duty and retired military members, are still being investigated by military and civilian prosecutors.
“Some circles within the military are making coup plans against the government. However, it is not possible to try members of the military in civilian tribunals. The constitutional amendment package will make it possible for members of the military to appear before civilian courts. In addition, the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) are engaged in anti-democratic practices. We all witnessed the impacts of the Constitutional Court on decisions related to a closure case against the AK Party, the headscarf bill and the 367 quorum [regarding the presidential election in 2007]. The Constitutional Court and the HSYK are made up of people who share the same ideology. If planned changes to the Constitution are approved [in the referendum], the judiciary will obtain a more legitimate structure, and problems will be settled more easily,” he added.
Lagendijk also criticized the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for failing to find strong reasons for refusing to support the reform package. He said opposition parties criticize the AK Party by citing poor performance in such fields as unemployment and the environment, which are not related to the constitutional amendment package at all.
“People should be aware of one fact: The referendum is not a general election in which people are supposed to rule on the incumbent party’s political performance. You may criticize the AK Party for various reasons, but this is not an obstacle that will prevent you from saying ‘yes’ to the amendment of the Constitution,” he noted.
Cem Özdemir favors content of reform package
Cem Özdemir, the co-chair of Germany’s Greens Party, has said he would vote “yes” on the constitutional amendment package if he votes in the referendum. He also said he regards the Kurdish population’s demands for the recognition of cultural rights, permission to be schooled in their mother language and a redefinition of citizenship, all of which would contribute to the peaceful settlement of the Kurdish question.
He also said he attaches great importance to the abolishment of Article 15 of the Constitution which bans any legal action against the military generals who staged the 1980 coup.
“Abolishing the article has a symbolic meaning. For the continuation of democracy, locked minds need to be unlocked,” he said. Özdemir also said conscientious objectors will be relieved once military courts are not allowed to try civilians, a change sought by the constitutional amendment package.
Özdemir, however, believes that the reform package will not suffice to fully confront the 1980 coup. “Will Turks confront the 600,000 people who were tortured after the coup? Will they be eager to learn what happened to inmates at Diyarbakır Prison? Will people in İstanbul or Muğla understand the sorrow of the Kurdish woman who was not allowed to talk to her son in prison because she did not know Turkish?” he asked.