Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Turkey Imprisioning Dissidents While Bidding For EU Membership




Turkey: Imprisoning Dissidents while Bidding for EU Membership



  • Erdogan did not hide the fact that his statements promising "freedom of faith, freedom of thought and freedom of opinion" were part of his "preparations for the 2019 local elections." The Turkish president did, however, hide the fact that his words were completely false.

  • On December 19, Prof. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV), was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for being one of 2,212 signatories to an "Academics for Peace" petition in 2016. The petition called on the Turkish government to cease its violence against the Kurds in southeastern Turkey. Fincancı is one of 429 academics who, as of December 19, have stood on trial since December 5.

  • Erdoğan was not telling the truth when he declared that everyone in Turkey would enjoy "freedom of faith, freedom of thought and freedom of opinion." In fact, Turkish jails and prisons are so packed with people imprisoned for expressing their beliefs, that the government just announced it will be building 228 more prisons over the next five years to accommodate the overflow.

  • Simultaneously, Turkey is stepping up its decades-long bid to become a member of the European Union. As part of this bid, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul announced on December 11 that he would be unveiling a new strategy for judicial reform. Under no circumstances should the EU allow itself to be duped by such a transparently deceptive and deceitful move.



As of December 14, at least 169 members of the media remained in Turkish prisons, either in pre-trial detention or serving sentences, according to a reportby the Platform for Independent Journalists. Many of these were arrested for articles and social media posts deemed "insulting" to Erdoğan. Berivan Bila, a journalism student at Karadeniz Technical University, for instance, was detained on December 6 -- after police raided her home and seized her computer, mobile phone, newspapers and books -- over an op-ed she had penned in 2017, titled: "School of Journalism -- Lesson one: Journalism is not a Crime."


Simultaneously, Turkey is stepping up its decades-long bid to become a member of the European Union. As part of this bid, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul announced on December 11 that he would be unveiling a new strategy for judicial reform. Under no circumstances should the EU allow itself to be duped by such a transparently deceptive and deceitful move.






Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute and currently based in Washington D.C.




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