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Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish government’s ‘Global Purge’ targeted opponents in at least 46 countries

Turkish government has pursued an aggressive policy to silence its perceived enemies in at least 46 countries across four continents, as part of its post-coup crackdown, a Foreign Affairs article noted Monday. The Turkish government has been hunting its opponents abroad, particularly the supporters of the Gulen movement since before and after the failed putsch on July 15, 2016, the article said adding that government’s alleged enemies were targeted at least in 46 countries.

Elaborating on the purge abroad, the magazine said: “Ankara has revoked thousands of passports, and achieved the arrest, deportation, or rendition of hundreds of Turkish citizens from at least 16 countries, including many who were under UN protection as asylum seekers. It has successfully pressured at least 20 countries to close or transfer to new owners dozens, perhaps hundreds, of Gulen movement schools.”

Turkish government accuses the movement of masterminding the 2016 failed coup while the latter denies involvement. More than 150,000 has passed through police custody while over a one-third of those were remanded in prison over Gulen links in Turkey. More than 3,000 schools, dormitories, and universities were shuttered while over 1,000 companies were seized at home.

While the article presents an in-depth insight into the chronological relations between the movement and Turkey’s governments in the recent history, it says the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government labeled the group as a terrorist organization before waging an all-out war against it.

Deportations

“Since the failed coup attempt, Turkey has exerted diplomatic pressure on various governments to arrest or deport hundreds of individuals from around the world. By my count, 15 countries have arrested or deported various representatives of the movement, ranging from supposed financiers to schoolteachers. Those countries include Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Georgia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Turkmenistan. …In at least three cases—Kazakhstan, Myanmar, and Sudan—individuals appear to have been turned over to Turkey without judicial proceedings, perhaps through the operation of a special National Intelligence Organization unit that Turkey’s state news agency says was established to track down “high-value” Gulenists. There have also been multiple cases in which those deported were apparently seeking asylum and thus had protected status at the time they were sent to Turkey: news reports say this was the case in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Malaysia, and Pakistan. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov admitted that the August 2016 deportation of a software engineer who had applied for asylum before the coup attempt was “on the edge of the law.” In other cases, like in Angola, Pakistan, and Qatar, there were mass deportations following the closure of Gulen schools.”

Also, pro-government commentators, such as Cem Kucuk, have talked casually about how MIT should kill members of the Gulen movement abroad, the magazine reported.

Closure of schools abroad

“The movement’s schools are under extreme pressure in the global purge,” the article highlighted before detailing the pressure on Gulenists’ overseas facilities: “Since its falling-out with the Gulenist movement in 2013, the government has been pressing other countries to shutter the schools. The Gambia closed its Gulen schools in April 2014. Turkey’s close ally Azerbaijan followed soon thereafter and Tajikistan shut down its Gulen schools in 2015. But elsewhere in the world, these schools largely remained open until the coup attempt of July 2016, after which Turkey increased the pressure. The results were quick. Schools were almost immediately closed in Jordan, Libya, and Somalia. Angola, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Morocco, and Tanzania followed suit in early 2017. Before the year was out, Afghanistan, Chad, Georgia, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, and Tunisia had all closed or transferred schools.

Pressure extends beyond Gulenists

Not only the supporters of the movement have been targeted, the article said, adding that all alleged government enemies within and outside Turkey were affected.

“In fact, 31 percent of all those arrested in government operations under the state of emergency, which has been in place since October 2016, were associated with Kurdish or leftist groups, according to official figures compiled by iHop, a Turkish human rights monitoring group. Nearly 400 academics who signed a petition before the coup attempt calling for peace between the state and the PKK in January 2016 have also been fired, and some have left Turkey or remained abroad. Others who have been convicted or charged while outside the country now fear traveling because of the threat of detention due to Interpol notices.”

“The global purge has also touched Interpol. In December, the AP reported that Interpol representatives were examining up to 40,000 extradition requests, some perhaps from Turkey, for possible political abuse. The report came after a number of high-profile cases involving Turks abroad, including Dogan Akhanli, a left-wing writer with dual German and Turkish citizenship who was arrested and forced to remain in Spain for two months while Spanish authorities assessed Turkey’s extradition request.”

Sources:
https://turkeypurge.com/report-turkish-governments-global-purge-targeted-opponents-least-46-countries
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/turkey/2018-01-29/remarkable-scale-turkeys-global-purge?cid=int-fls&pgtype=hpg

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The Freedom House concludes Turkey is no more a free country. What is next?

The Freedom House concludes Turkey is no more a free country. What is next?

A new report released by the independent, non-profit and non-partisan watchdog organization Freedom House concluded that democratic principles such as election integrity and freedom of the press, political and civil rights have severely downgraded in Turkey that is no longer ‘a free country.’ The study added that Turkey’s status declined from Partly Free to Not Free due to a deeply flawed constitutional referendum that centralized power in the presidency, the mass replacement of elected mayors with government appointees, arbitrary prosecutions of rights activists and other perceived enemies of the state, and continued purges of state employees, all of which have left citizens hesitant to express their views on sensitive topics.

The Freedom House has been publishing annual reports since 1973 for assessing the condition of political rights and civil liberties around the world.

It has been a great source for scholars and academics since then. Their methodology is very strong and reliable. Their ranking provides a snapshot of the world and political circumstances in each state. It has always been interpreted seriously by international organizations and financial institutions as well.

The report noted that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan broadened and intensified the crackdown on his perceived opponents that began after a failed 2016 coup attempt. In addition to its dire consequences for detained Turkish citizens, shuttered media outlets, and seized businesses, the chaotic purge has become intertwined with an offensive against the Kurdish minority, which in turn has fueled Turkey’s diplomatic and military interventions in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

According to Freedom House, which analyzed data from 195 countries over the 2017 calendar year, Turkey’s passage over the threshold from Partly Free to Not Free is the culmination of a long and accelerating slide in Freedom in the World.

‘The country’s score has been in free fall since 2014 due to an escalating series of assaults on the press, social media users, protesters, political parties, the judiciary, and the electoral system, as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fights to impose personalized control over the state and society in a deteriorating domestic and regional security environment. Erdoğan has pushed out his rivals and former allies within the ruling party, reshaped media ownership to fit his needs, and rammed through an unpopular constitutional referendum to create a “super-presidential” system without meaningful checks and balances.’

The study also noted that President Erdogan’s response to the July 2016 coup attempt has become a sprawling witch hunt, resulting in the arrest of some 60,000 people, the closure of over 160 media outlets, and the imprisonment of over 150 journalists. The leaders of the third-largest party in the parliament are in prison, and nearly 100 mayors across the country have been replaced through emergency measures or political pressure from the president. The government has even pressed its crackdown beyond. Turkey’s borders, triggering a flood of Interpol “red notice” requests to detain critics abroad, among other effects.

How will the report affect the Asylum seekers?

Since the controversial coup attempt, thousands of military officials, government officials, academics, and civilians have been detained, arrested or fired from their positions. The purge has led to a large number of these individuals to flee Turkey and seek asylum elsewhere.

It is safe to analyze that The Freedom House report will have major consequences on several issues especially asylum applications of thousands of people since the report extensively provided all the necessary data about the failure of democracy in Turkey. The report which confirmed Turkey’s passage over the threshold from ‘Partly Free to Not Free’ is considered both essential and useful for the court processes of the Asylum applications.

How should NATO respond?

A core principle of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is that member states adhere to democratic values. Here is how NATO defines its core principle and the purpose of its very existence:

‘NATO’s purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. POLITICAL – NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defense and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.’

As a democratic security organization, NATO should clarify its stance and policies towards Turkey, which is openly defined as a non-democracy and not-free? Can NATO promote democratic values while one of its biggest members is already defined a dictatorship by non-partisan international organizations?

The recent study by the Freedom House which reports the decline in Turkey’s human rights record may cause some U.S. lawmakers and decision makers to question the country’s NATO membership.

ECtHR appears as a new venue

The shocking lower court rulings of the last several days rejecting the authority of Turkey’s Constitutional Court to hear individual applications has also been considered as the end of the rule of law in Turkey. This new episode in Turkish judiciary will lead the Turkish citizens who seek legal recourse to violations of their rights at European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) which still remains a proper venue that they should pursue. The recent study by The Freedom House can definitely be used as a source by the Turkish citizens to strengthen their cases at the ECtHR despite the fact that the ruling processes of the Court may take so long.


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