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Presidential decree creates 10,000 more ‘neighborhood watchman’ positions

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A new decree issued in Turkey on Monday created 10,000 more positions for “neighborhood watchmen” (bekçi in Turkish) upon the request of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The decree, published in the Official Gazette, created the positions under the Ministry of Interior’s Directorate of Security (EGM).

Erdoğan said in a speech that he wanted to hear the whistle of the neighborhood watchmen when he goes to sleep at night. Erdoğan further said he wanted residents to know that somebody is watching out for their security on the street while they are asleep.

However, many are concerned about possible intelligence collection and invasion of privacy with the reinstitution of the system in Turkey.

The neighborhood watchman system existed several decades ago but was eliminated in 1990.

In 2017, an initial 7,000 neighborhood watchmen were employed by the government, with Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu saying he considered Erdoğan’s remarks an instruction.

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