It was a narrow victory and one which will not please President Erdogan ,who was hoping for a decisive one. Instead he won by a whisker with an estimated 51.4% of the vote, despite controlling the media and conducting the ‘Yes’ campaign under a state of emergency, (extended for a further three months on 17 April) which limited the ability of opponents to openly campaign for a ‘No’ vote and meant that essential fundamental campaigning freedoms were denied.
After a 6 year ordeal an Istanbul court on 12 April ordered the acquittal of 13 suspects, including journalists and writers, charged with membership of the Ergenekon organisation in the OdaTV case. Among those acquitted is journalist Muyesser Yildiz who was adopted in a solidarity move by the NUJ in 2012. According to press reports the court unanimously acquitted the suspects including journalists Ahmet Şık, Nedim Şener, Soner Yalçın, Yalçın Küçük and former police chief Hanefi Avcı, based on their pleas, expert reports, witness statements and ‘the wider context of the file’.
The weekend before before the SPOT (Solidarity with the People of Turkey) delegation arrived in Istanbul, the city was in the grip of freezing temperatures and the heaviest snow-falls for 20 years with over 2 feet (65 cm) of snow paralysing the city. A few days later when we arrived on 11 January, much of the snow and ice had thawed, but it was obvious that the country’s democracy was still in the grip of a deep freeze and the temperature was plunging.