That is down in large part to the gutting of Turkey’s independent press. More than 115 journalists have been imprisoned and hundreds more fired since the July 15th coup attempt, while 130 media outlets have been shuttered. That, in addition to the sacking of more than 1,000 media workers in the previous 12 months, has left crucial questions unanswered. Put simply, there is no one left – or willing – to overturn the stones on which the failed military takeover was built.
The past couple of months have been tumultuous in Turkey. In short order, an ill-conceived military coup was followed by popular mass protest, the quick return of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to power, and a wave of repression ranging from military and judicial purges, to state restrictions on a panoply of basic human rights protections, to allegations of “widespread human rights abuses” by state actors.
The Education Ministry distributed “Attempt to invade Turkey with coup” brochures at all state schools across Turkey. Some 19 million students also watched a video of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reciting the Turkish national anthem along with footage from the night of July 15, when an abortive coup took place in Turkey.
The CHP’s inability to seize the moment and strongly condemn the arbitrary extent and nature of the purges from the start was a critical failure, and one that serves to undermine its integrity and sustainability as an opposition force. Despite tentative but welcome signs from the CHP towards highlighting the exponential injustices of Turkey’s ongoing purge, it still seems like a classic case of acting too little, too late.
It’s precisely opposition journalists who have been criticized by colleagues who until recently worked for the newspapers of U.S.-based Fethullah Gulen. These colleagues accuse the opposition journalists of betraying freedom of expression. One of them is Sevgi Akarcesme who was editor-in-chief of the Turkish English-language daily Today’s Zaman. There is a great deal of truth in Akarcesme’s claims. But who today would dare defend journalists identified with Gulen?
In 2006, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Turkish citizen Osman Murat Ulke, who refused to perform compulsory military service as an act of civil disobedience, had been subjected to “civil death” due to the numerous prosecutions he faced after his original jail sentence. Ulke’s expulsion from his profession and the prospect of an interminable series of convictions, which forced him into hiding, constituted a “disproportionate” punishment, the court said.
Two months after responding to a coup attempt by declaring a state of emergency, the Turkish government continues to target journalists, pluralism and freedom of information. RSF is today publishing a reportthat details the many abuses and urges the government to return to democratic principles.
Members of the European Parliament (EP) discussed developments following the July 15 failed coup attempt in Turkey at a session on Tuesday and stressed the need for the fair trial of suspects who have been arrested on coup charges.
A 28-year-old man of Turkish origin has been handed down a prison sentence of eight months and a fine of 23,000 euros by a French court after he attacked several institutions affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement in the country.
According to a video posted by Mehmet Cerit, the editor of Zaman Vandaag, an overseas subsidiary of the government-seized Turkish daily Zaman, a man is seen turning away the people whom he considered Hizmet members, just before the Friday prayer in a mosque in Germany.
Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher has leveled sharp criticism against Turkey over ongoing purges that have followed a failed coup attempt in July and said arrests and firings over alleged links to the Gülen movement have now turned into a wide-ranging witch-hunt. He said arrest and detentions, which are based on no evidence, are bound to inflict damage to the notions of rule of law and freedom of expression.
Erdoğan’s government is by no means the first to compel Turkish citizens to hide their preferences and beliefs. Under the secular governments that ruled Turkey from the 1920s to 1950, and to some extent until 2002, pious Turks seeking advancement in government, the military, and even commerce had to downplay their religiosity and avoid signaling approval of political Islam.