While the conventions and other domestic news have consumed the country, it was only ten days ago that we were talking about the failed coup in Turkey and how rapidly President Erdogan was moving to execute a massive purge. Thousands of police officers, members of the military and local political leaders were disappearing in widespread arrests and detentions. Things haven’t slowed down since then either, as Erdogan continues his moves to put the country on lockdown and eradicate his perceived enemies. Now, in one of the classic signs of a dictator establishing total control over his subjects, the strongman has shut down a vast swath of the nation’s media, with hundreds of news outlets being seized and closed. (Fox News)
Turkey’s government has decided to close down dozens of media outlets, including 45 newspapers and 16 television stations in the wake of a failed military coup, the country’s state-run news agency reported Wednesday.
CNN Turk reported that 130 media organizations had been shuttered in a widening crackdown by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. The list also inlcuded 23 radio stations, three news agencies and 15 magazines. Many of those targeted were regional media outlets as well as several organizations that had already been seized by the state over alleged links to Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric accused of being behind the failed uprising.
Television and radio stations. Newspapers. Magazines. News collection agencies. Individual reporters and news anchors have been detained. And that’s on top of an addition 1,700 military officers and an unknown number of additional police who have disappeared. One of the most reliable tools of dictators over the course of human history has been the ability to shut down the flow of information. Keeping the people in the dark and strangling their ability to gather information and effectively communicate with each other is a powerful insurance policy against mass uprisings. Allowing only opinions favorable to the government to be heard can discourage dissidents and keep the peasants in line. It’s how North Korea has managed to keep their starving and downtrodden population toeing the party line for generations on end, and now we’re seeing blatant signs of the same thing happening right before our eyes in Turkey.
Bear in mind that in the hours following the attempted coup, our President, the Secretary of State and Hillary Clinton all came out and called for calm and a respect for “the democratically elected government” in Turkey as the situation played out. John Kerry was a tad bit more critical in issuing cautions to Erdogan, but those words clearly fell on deaf ears. Is this the face of an ally that the United States should be in bed with? Business Insider has a list of even more people caught up in Erdogan’s move to crush dissent and control the minds of the population.
15,200 education ministry officials
3,000 members of the judiciary
1,577 university deans
492 clerics, preachers and religious teachers
100 intelligence officers
The list goes on. We are watching one of the most powerful and important states in the region fall under the iron grip of a despot. And because of Erdogan’s key role in an already unstable region, we continue to refer to him as an ally and do nothing.