Recently a messenger came to Colorado with dark warnings from a troubled land: Abdulhamit Bilici, the former editor-in-chief of Zaman, Turkey’s go-to newspaper before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s brutal crackdown. You don’t often meet people like Abdulhamit Bilici in the United States. You almost can’t believe that someone with his backstory sits before you.
For a year, Calgary imam Davud Hanci has spent most of his days in solitary confinement in Turkey, accused of being a terrorist linked to failed 2016 coup attempt. “They’re just holding him there and they don’t want to release him because they don’t have any real evidence,” said Malik Muradov, executive director of Calgary’s Intercultural Dialogue Institute and a friend of Hanci.
Human rights advocate Renée Vaugeois wrote a letter asking Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to expedite the Edmonton man’s residency application. She thinks that this is a targeted war on a specific group of people in Turkey and to her that speaks to genocide.
“If they ask me what my final wish is,” Gulen added, “I would say the person who caused all this suffering and oppressed thousands of innocents, I want to spit in his face.” When asked if he was referring to Erdogan, he replied: “It can’t be anyone else. He is the oppressor.”
The practice of fasting in religions other than Islam was explored June 17 during a Ramadan Iftar held at the township Community/Senior Center in the Municipal Complex. Speakers representing Judaism and Christianity spoke about fasting in their faith traditions during the event, which was sponsored by the Peace Islands Institute.
Normally, the Oklahoma City Thunder would be trying to find a replacement for Kevin Durant, or figure out how to get past the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs or Houston Rockets. They probably didn’t expect they’d have to struggle to keep their center Enes Kanter from being jailed and possibly executed in Turkey by an increasingly authoritarian leader.
Mr. Erdogan, the Turkish president who was the target of a failed coup last July, has since carried out a wave of arbitrary punishments and imprisonments of thousands of journalists, academics, bureaucrats, lawyers and human rights defenders he suspects of affiliation with Mr. Gulen and his movement. This cruel frenzy is just the latest step in Mr. Erdogan’s march toward authoritarianism.
It’s an old story with dictators. If unopposed, they become ever more brazen in their aggression. Case in point: Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. On May 16, during a state visit to Washington, Erdoğan’s bodyguards beat up peaceful protesters, many of them American citizens, in front of the Turkish embassy. At least 11 protesters were injured.
Haldun and his wife, Funda, fled Turkey about two years ago with their three daughters and are now seeking political asylum in the United States because if they go back to Turkey they face arrest and likely torture. Once a successful manufacturer of washing machine products, Haldun, Funda and their children are now a family without a country; their factory turned over to a government trustee, their passports taken away, and their property and belongings nationalized.
Turkey’s ability to stop Kanter from living in the U.S. or playing in the NBA is basically non-existent. The U.S. won’t allow Turkey to extradite him. But Erdoğan’s government has an ulterior motive in attempting to intimidate Kanter. “The point of this exercise is to let Turks around the world know that none of them are safe, that they should not speak out against the government,” Joshua Landis said.
“I play in the NBA; that’s why people know my story,” Kanter said. “My dad is only one. There are thousands of kids out there who have no mom or dad because of what’s going on in Turkey. I have to speak and let people know what’s going on. I want the whole world to know what’s going on, because they try to hid it.”