Speaking with the Cumhuriyet daily about his last visit to journalists in Silivri Prison in İstanbul, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul deputy Mehmet Bekaroğlu said that journalists, including Bulaç, were insulted by police officers during their questioning.
At least 25 leading international rights groups in various fields, human rights and media, have called for an end to certain measures of emergency rule in Turkey, warning against gross human rights violations and endangering the basic tenets of democracy and the rule of law.
On September 1, the American Booksellers Association joined American publishers, authors, and librarians in a letter urging President Obama to protest the widespread suppression of free speech in Turkey during his September 4 meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan in China.
The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has prohibited individuals in Silivri Prison who are currently under arrest over their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement from communicating with the outside world during an ongoing state of emergency, the Sözcü daily reported on Monday.
The human rights body of the Council of Europe, the Commission against Racism and Intolerance, issued a report on Wednesday about the increasing use of hate speech, even by senior state officials. While President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the Gülen sympathizers “viruses,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım labeled them microbes. The movement is the main target of a massive purge and witch-hunt in Turkey.
As a law-abiding citizen, I knew I had done nothing wrong to be stopped at the border. But in Turkey being a journalist from Zaman media group was enough for me to be considered an “enemy of the state.” And I was the editor-in-chief of Today’s Zaman which had been brutally taken over a few days earlier, earning me a suspended jail sentence for my tweets criticizing then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
The purge was in the making well before the attempted coup, but took a massive shape, unprecedented in entire history of the Turkish Republic. The scale and nature of post-coup purge gives legitimate suspicion for critics that President Erdogan is not solely after coup plotters, but for anyone he deems non-loyalist. As the coup plot was falling apart, Erdogan described the putsch as a “gift from God” to cleanse the army.
A Turkish professor who was my father’s colleague and frequently visited our house is now incapable of counting right amount of money to pay for a bottle of water at a prison canteen. He is traumatized as a result of days of harsh treatment during the interrogation. He is sharing a prison cell with my father, longtime friends, in western Turkey.
The faces of people held in a Manisa prison have become unrecognizable due to heavy torture, Seda Tanrıkulu, a lawyer representing some of the prisoners, told the Turkish media. “When I met with prisoners, there were bruises on the face of D.K., made by the boots of officials,” Tanrıkulu said.
Journalists have been in Mr. Erdogan’s crosshairs, and his campaign is pushing into the digital universe, too. Turkey is pressing Twitter to silence journalists, and Twitter must resist more vigorously. Twitter is a powerful force for free expression. “The tweets must flow,” the company likes to say. But they don’t always flow, as freedom of speech and democracy are in retreat around the globe.
President Erdogan says the state of emergency might be needed for another year to crush the “terrorist” threat. More than 130 media outlets have been shut down, the pro-Kurdish IMC TV the latest victim. The authorities have started releasing 38,000 prisoners, to make way for the new arrests.
The government is yet to renovate that place, preserving the area for foreign delegations as a showcase for the savagery of putschist soldiers. Ankara makes sure that every visiting foreign official is making their pilgrimage to the site, through dust and scattered rocks, so that they see firsthand how the mutineering soldiers attacked the Turkish democracy.