Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent remarks regarding his disapproval of mixed-gender student houses, which he has made throughout the week, have added to already existing fears amongst a portion of Turkish society that the government is intervening in their lifestyles. Erdoğan’s statement at a closed party meeting in Ankara that authorities may take action against male and female students living together was first reported on Monday.
Lawyers, human rights experts and observers of Turkish politics are growing more concerned with intrusions of privacy by the state as an intense debate unfolds on the possible monitoring of mixed-gender student houses across Turkey.
That same day, government speaker and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said that no such statement was made in the closed meeting. However, one day later, Erdoğan himself admitted that he had made the remarks on mixed-gender student houses, and added that it is his responsibility to intervene in the situation because parents entrust their children to the government. Given the frequent accusations that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government wants to intervene in lifestyles that differ from its conservative stance, and that it has been pursuing what some believe to be a secret agenda since the party’s first day in power, these explicit statements on the living situation of students are considered a further move in trying to interfere with the privacy of citizens.
Andrew Duff, liberal member of the European Parliament and spokesman on constitutional affairs for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), told Sunday’s Zaman, “As his Christmas present, I will send Tayyip a copy of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, of which Article 7 says the private and family lives of people should be respected.” He added that he believes Erdoğan is becoming odder and odder. see more