Turkish Gov’t Detained 845 People To Date Over Critical Stance On Afrin Offensive

Turkey’s Interior Ministry on Monday announced that 845 people have been detained on terror charges due to their protests or posts on social media critical of a Turkish military incursion in the northern Syrian town of Afrin, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Meanwhile, two construction workers who went to İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport on Feb. 23 to fly to their hometown of Diyarbakır were detained by police after officers seized their mobile phones and checked their social media accounts, the Evrensel daily reported on Monday.

The workers, Nazım Toplu and Ahmet Polat, were stopped by the police after they arrived at the airport on the grounds that they looked suspicious. They underwent criminal record checks (GBT), and the police found that they were not the subject of any investigation.

Yet, the police officers asked the workers to open their Facebook accounts when the workers were about to board their plane. The workers refused and said it was illegal for them to ask this. Then, the police officers seized the workers’ mobile phones and entered their social media accounts from the phones.

The police officers detained the workers due to their social media accounts. It was not clear what messages the workers had posted, but nowadays the detention of individuals due to their critical messages on social media about the government or Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is very common.

The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The despotic Turkish government and autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have reacted strongly to people who oppose the operation, and prosecutor’s offices have initiated investigations into those who share social media messages critical of the operation.

President Erdoğan on Jan. 21 warned the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) not to take to the streets to protest the operation in Afrin: “You are being closely followed. If you try to take to the streets, know that our security forces will be at your neck.”

“If anyone is in the streets upon calls [from the HDP], they will pay dearly for it. This is a national fight, and whoever opposes us will be crushed,” Erdoğan added.

Kral FM radio host Ali Şentürk, known as “Afrikalı Ali,” called on security forces to kill anybody who criticizes Turkey’s operation in Afrin.

Yusuf Ozan, a presenter for the pro-government Akit TV, last Sunday targeted the Cumhuriyet daily over a story it ran on the Afrin operation in Syria, saying Cumhuriyet journalists deserve to be executed.