Hulya Sen; she was working as a family doctor in Istanbul before April 16, presidental referendum of Turkey, but after April 16, she resigned from her office and began a march to Ankara, the capital city of Turkey for the annulment of the referendum.
Dr. Hulya Sen has said about the start of the march from Istanbul to Ankara:
“The results of the referendum were announced at same night in April 16, I was in Kadıkoy square. There were tens of thousands of people at there, and none of them was seemed in a state to go back homes already. There was a rejection, there was nonacceptance; because, the referendum was shady, there were the ballots without an authenticating stamp to count. People walked rightward to leftward in Kadıkoy. They entered the streets, then they went out. The rain started and everyone went home. We woke to a day with “yes”. I did not have anything to go and study. I also do not believe that the state is the same state which I started to work 25 years ago. ‘I need to separate my road,’ said to myself. I resigned and decided to go for a march. It was kind of desperation. Because, this is a situation which neither the people can seat nor can sleep; also can not work. Walking was helping for me, that was what came to mind. I’ve started a person, but I am no longer single person. I know we’re a huge crowd.”
The result of referendum that Dr. Hulya Sen mentioned, has been announced as “the yes vote is about 51.4% and, 48.6% for the no vote” for a new presidental sytem of Turkey.
According to the result of the referendum, the map of Turkey has been shaped as follows.
The area’s size which belongs to higher “yes” votes, so colourised with white color seems bigger than the area’s size which belongs to higher “no” votes, so colorised with orange color. However, the population of “No” votes area is higher than the “Yes” votes area in Turkey. Especially at the west cities, more than half of population of including Istanbul, Izmir, also Ankara the capital, and total 17 metropol cities’ population gave “no” vote against the new presidental system of Turkey. (In Turkey there are 30 metropol cities)
Of course, the cities with more “No” votes are the cities of higher populations and the cities with more “yes” votes are the lower population cities, do not indicate that “no” will be the dominant result. It can be said that the situation can be balanced between the lower population cities where “yes” votes reaches to 70% or 80% and two major populations of Turkey such as Istanbul and Ankara where the 51% “no” votes outcome. For example, in Istanbul about 11 million voters number is equal with almost 15 middle cities’ voters number in Anatolia. If these 15 middle cities gave the “yes” votes in high percent, so let’s say average is about 75%, this can be balanced the Istanbul 51% “no” votes. But it is still very difficult question to answer: How can be possible this result, while about 49 million people live in these 17 metropol plus 16 other cities where the “no” votes are higher? Turkey population according to last datas, is about 80 million. In this regard at the population of the cities where the “yes” votes are higher, is about 31 million people.
Before Dr. Hulya Sen started to her march, the question mark about the ballots without an authenticating stamp to count, has been confusing for many people, as she stated.
What is the issue about the ballots without an authenticating stamp?
The day 16 of April, at referendum day,
Before the referandum, High Electoral Board of Turkey, YSK, had been announced also made a video about how referendum will be made for the voters and the parties’ officials who will work on the ballot boxes. According to rules of referendum the ballots and the envelopes which ballots will put in, had to be officially stamped. However, while voting was underway, even half an hour before the end of voting in western cities and half an hour after voting in eastern cities is over -(in Turkey west cities’ voting process is finishing in 5 pm, east cities in 4 pm)- High Electoral Board of Turkey announced the ballots’ envelopes that had not been officially stamped, will be accepted.
“Both the opposition and the OSCE focused on a decision taken on Sunday by the High Electoral Board…he OSCE said the decision broke Turksh election law. The board “issued instructions late in the day that significantly changed the ballot validity criteria, undermining an important safeguard and contradicting the law,” the OSCE said…Opposition parties said that 1.5 million unstamped ballots had been illegally counted – enough to swing an election that had been decided by about 1.38 million votes, according to state news agency figures.” -quotes from the news of telegraph.co.uk
Another woman, Meral Aksener who seperated her political road from Turkish Nationalist Party MHP, like the other opponents was trying to reach to tv channels for hearing her voice, she was saying that, “Don’t leave the ballot boxes, there is huge manipulation from state news agency figures which were broadcasted on tv channels right now.”
Same night the people were on the streets in many city of Turkey, the women at the forefront, the people made the protest agaist the result of referandum and High Electoral Board of Turkey, YSK.
April 17-18, after referendum, Dr. Hulya Sen was on the roads towards to Ankara. She was making the statement to the local newspaper and she was saying that:
“High Electoral Board, YSK did not accept any objections, but we were expecting a different decision, you are seeing that the people gathering and saying they do not accept it. They want to walk with me, but I do not think it’s possible to walk together in the conditions of the OHAL (acronym of the state of emergency in Turkish). In fact, I think that it is not possible to propose a constitution under the conditions of OHAL. We are confronted with the imposition of a constitution without the internalization of the material, unless OHAL is removed and people have not discussed the constitutional amendment. Moreover, the election results are questionable.”
This has been subject to the OSCE report of referendum of Turkey:
“A failed coup attempt on 15 July 2016 left at least 241 people dead and 2,194 injured. In response to the attempted coup, as well as a wave of terror attacks that shook the country in 2016, the government declared a state of emergency on 21 July and extended it twice since, most recently for another 90 days starting on 19 January. Mass arrests and the prosecution under emergency decrees of over100,000 and continued detention of over 40,000 individuals, as well as dismissals of over 150,000 civil servants, followed. The state of emergency that restricted fundamental freedoms, as well as the ongoing security operations in the southeast that resulted in several hundred thousand people fleeing their homes, led to questions as to whether conditions were in place to permit a democratic referendum. In its opinion on the amendments to the Constitution, the Venice Commission noted that “the current state of emergency does not provide for the due democratic setting for a constitutional referendum.”
OSCE is continuing it’s report about campaigning of the parties:
“The campaign was characterized by the lack of a level playing field. The significantly more visible ‘Yes’ campaign, led by the governing AKP and to some extent the MHP, was supported by several leading national officials and many lower level public officials, including the prime minister and thepresident, who under the constitution is required to remain non-partisan and perform his duties without bias. These instances blurred the line between party and state… Supporters of the ‘No’ campaign faced a number of undue limitations on their freedom to campaign. Many ‘No’ campaigners suffered physical attacks. A high number were arrested, most often on charges of organizing unlawful public events or insulting the president. Some ‘No’ campaigners faced difficulties renting premises for events or had their events cancelled by the authorities or venue proprietors, often on short notice.”
Already another woman, Zeynep Altinok, who is Izmir deputy of main opponent party CHP had announced the balance of aggressive attitude over “No” supporters before the referendum.
According to Zeynep Altinok’s study, before referendum into two months, 213 people who were “no” campaigners and supporters were taken into custody; except the many knife attacks and injuries were made by “yes” supporters.
Also, some lines from her study,
“Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, accused the people who say “No” to support terrorism…
It was also forbidden to distribute brochure to the “No” supporters in the Istanbul subway, but at the same time the electricity of the stand of the “yes” supporters, was given by the subway…
The police could not tolerate the ‘No’ written on snow by Artvin-Cerattepe people. Police erased the “NO” writing on snow by intervening…”
The physical injuries that Zeynep Altinok mentioned in her study, continued on the day of the referendum according to the news;
“..when the objection to a ‘Yes’ vote was made with the reason it’s void by Melisa Yetin in Istanbul, it come to light that that both her and another woman offical Fatma Yilmaz was attacked and wounded. It has been suggested that the aggressor group was a member of AKP Kartal Esenlik Youth Branches….After they come out of hospital, they stated that “We were in charge for the Republic. The republic gave the freedom to women. If next sunday would be the election again, we are ready to work over…”
An another woman who is CHP deputy, after the referendum day, was struggling with that,
CHP Manisa deputy Tur Yildiz Bicer asked about ‘the unstamped votes’ decision of YSK. She explained that she wanted a decision on the acceptance of the unstamped votes from YSK but she could not get a response. Tur Yildiz Bicer shared this message in a statement made on Twitter: “Today I applied to the YSK and asked the decision and circular letter about the acceptance of the unstamped votes; there is no decision, no circular letter and no answer!”
While these happened, an another woman, Burcu Celik who is HDP deputy was taken into custody.
According to news, Burcu Celik was arrested after she uncovered the doubts of the referendum results of Mus city, has also attracted attention.
And Dr. Hulya Sen has been walking, and the 4th day of her march, she gave this statement on another city’s local newspaper.
“I feel myself as millions on this road which I started alone. I’m not tired. This action is an objection, a rebellion. The public and I are calling the High Electoral Board, YSK members to resign. Because no law can be imposed by compulsion despite public. The laws and the constitutions are made by society. You also need to draw the boundaries of the people you authorized, so that you can be called a legal text. If it gives you unlimited authority, this is not a legal text anyway. So this is not a constitution. This is a project to enforce the legal framework of unconstitutional governance. The Turkish people are not the nation to accept to such a compulsion. I have not been able to find out who wrote this draft constitution already. We know that we can find the official records of who wrote all the constitutions written up to now, including the Rescript of Gulhane.(1839)”
She countinued to her statement in another city,
“Now, even either YSK says “yes” or “no”, it has no judgement anymore. After that the decision of that authority, I think there is no judgement. I think YSK is invalid. In a place where the president doesn’t acknowledge the constitution, I do not acknowledge YSK.”
Thousands of people, like herself, were in the streets to signify that they did not accept YSK’s decision. YSK has not accepted to any objection for the referendum result, and many reputable legal experts of Turkey, indicated that YSK has to accept to objections. And according to them, YSK made a silent coup against the constitutional system.
The days and nights of last week, YSK is taking own share from the people’s refusal. Women are still on the front. For example, that old woman joined the daytime protests in front of the YSK, and says the following against YSK.
Translating her words in English shortly,
“They’re shamless. They are not embarrassed. Would that be so? I can not find anything to say. God da*n you, da*n you! You are reptiles, thieves, who get illegally. We want our votes, we do not want anything else! You can have the money that you have stolen, but you give us our votes! God da*n you! They’re relentless! They could not finish the country by eating! Fill your eyes with soil!
While Dr. Hulya Sen is on her march, the women of Anatolia are everywhere on the streets and they are resisting. They are writing an another page of history of Turkey. And it seems that the new page is on the begining yet. The women have been already expressing this on the streets with the slogan “this is just the beginning” with huge crowd last one week. There are still so many road they will take, also they are aware of it. They don’t seem to leave this road. Also as far as I know the women of Anatolia, they don’t withdraw under any conditions. Those who do not take the women reactions into account will certainly be doomed to absolute failure. On the other side, the women of Anatolia know better than anyone, Ataturk and his revolution has given the best rights for women, before many other countries in the world. Dr. Hulya Sen also stated she will finish her march tomorrow, April 23 National Sovereignty and Children’s Day, at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
While she was on this road, I respect to her and the other honorable women of this planet. Besides, it should not be forgotten that, like Nazim Hikmet said: “A brave woman’s head is heavy on a coward man’s shoulder.”