I’ve grown tired of typing the phrase, the situation in Turkey continues to deteriorate, but there’s really no other way to describe it. Ever since the aborted coup this summer, Turkish President (and aspiring dictator) Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been sacking workers across multiple business sectors and locking up his perceived “enemies” by the tens of thousands. The latest group to be added to the latter list is composed of journalists from one of the country’s only remaining independent newspapers which has been critical of some of Erdogan’s policies. (BBC)
Nine journalists from Turkey’s pro-opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet have been arrested and remanded in custody by a court in Istanbul.
The newspaper’s editor, a well-known cartoonist, and an anti-government columnist were among those arrested.
They are the latest in a series of charges laid against critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
On Friday, nine politicians, including the leaders of the country’s pro-Kurdish HDP party, were also jailed.
A further nine officials from the HDP, including regional heads from the south-eastern province of Adana, were detained on Saturday.
The use of the word “detained” here is interesting because recent history shows us that “disappeared” might be a better verb. The journalists and the politicians from the opposition party have been tossed into cells somewhere and, as the BBC notes, there is no date set for a trial on whatever trumped up charges they face. Nor do some local observers expect there to be one. These people have simply vanished because they dared to speak out against the tyrant.
If such events unfolded in a more democratic society we would expect to be hearing about it from alternative news sources and social media, but we probably shouldn’t look for much of that out of Turkey in the near future. Erdogan has already clamped down on Twitter, Facebook and other such outlets. (TurkeyBlocks)
The TurkeyBlocks monitoring network has detected restrictions on access to multiple social media services Facebook, Twitter and YouTube throughout Turkey beginning Friday Nov 04 2016 1:20AM local time, ongoing through into Friday afternoon.
Restrictions on messaging services WhatsApp, Skype and Instagram have also now been detected, validating widespread user complaints about WhatsApp service failure in Turkey – the first time nationwide restrictions have been detected on the popular messaging apps in recent years.
The incident is believed to be related to the detention of multiple leaders of opposition political party HDP, accompanied by raids of the HDP headquarters in Ankara.
The response from the United States government thus far has ranged between “muted” and nothing at all. A couple of strongly worded letters from John Kerry have amazingly failed to dissuade Erdogan from his path to what amounts to little more than a dictatorship. As one interesting side note, the President of Turkey seems to know which side his bread is buttered on when it comes to the American elections. One Wikileaks missive showed that Erdogan’s proxies have been trying to make donations to the Democrats and in at least one case, the Clinton team decided to take the money anyway even after being warned of the influence peddling connotations. (Free Beacon)
Top Hillary Clinton campaign officials were warned last summer that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would make contributions to the campaign through American proxies to gain favor, but chose to take money from one of the people they were warned about nonetheless.
The warning came last August in an email to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Michael Werz, an expert on Turkey who used to work for Podesta’s Center for American Progress, told Podesta that the “Erdogan faction” was making investments in Democratic candidates such as Clinton.
“Am told that the Erdogan crew also tries to make inroads via donations to Democratic candidates, including yours,” Werz told Podesta. “Two names that you should be aware of are Mehmet Celebi and Ali Cinar.”
The Obama administration has essentially given Recep Tayyip Erdogan a free pass to act like a third world strongman and Turkey seems to be counting on similar treatment from Hillary Clinton if she’s elected. Should he expect to see those results? Erdogan has already been hurling insults at Clinton, calling her a “novice” on foreign policy, so he clearly doesn’t seem to be too afraid of her. For her part, Clinton has done little aside from expressing her support for “the democratically elected government of Turkey” shortly after the coup. If Secretary Clinton takes the baton from Obama, Erdogan looks to be in for smooth sailing as he continues to turn his nation into a totalitarian prison state.