Is Turkey Still A Democracy?

“This is the end of democracy for Turkey, I’m very sorry. Yesterday was a shameful day for Turkish democracy, for the rule of law, for freedom of expression. In the last month President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been trying to silence all the critical media in Turkey. A couple of months before, firstly the government confiscated newspapers and TV channels of Ipek media group [Koza Ipek Holding], another prominent media group in Turkey. Then some of the other critical TV channels were dropped out from satellite. And yesterday at the end the nation’s best circulating newspaper Zaman daily was seized by the Turkish government” – Interview with Zaman journalist, Russia Today

“If there was any doubt about why the government of President Erdogan seized the newspaper Zaman last week, consider this: Within 48 hours after the takeover, the paper began publishing pro-Erdogan propaganda. It is unsettling that the United States and Europe have responded so meekly to Mr. Erdogan’s trampling of a free press… They may well be muting their criticism in hopes of persuading Turkey to help contain the refugee crisis that is roiling Europe. On Monday, Mr. Erdogan offered a harder stance, setting new demands for his cooperation, including billions more in aid and earlier membership in the European Union for Turkey. That’s not the approach of an ally, and Mr. Erdogan’s turn toward authoritarianism will not strengthen Turkey, NATO or the European Union” – Editorial Board, The New York Times

“The Turkish government has insisted that it was not involved in the court ruling, and the prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, has called the paper’s confiscation a “legal procedure”, adding that it was “not political”… The newspaper is closely associated with the movement of Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Islamic cleric… Erdoğan has repeatedly accused Gülen of having established a “parallel structure” within the state by placing his followers in institutions such as the judiciary and the police, and of exerting strong influence through his media empire. Turkish authorities have labelled the movement, known as “Hizmet” among its millions of followers worldwide, a “terrorist organisation”, known in Turkey under the acronym FETÖ”- Constanze Letsch, The Guardian

“Turkey’s assault on press freedom is the act of a dictatorship, not a democracy… Last year, Can Dündar, the editor­-in­-chief of the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, and his Ankara bureau chief, Gül, were arrested and charged with spying and terrorism for publishing evidence of arms deliveries by the Turkish intelligence services to Islamist groups in Syria. Others have been charged with ‘insulting the President’ – a crime that can land you up to four years in jail. Last week, it was revealed that almost 2,000 people had been prosecuted for presidential insults since Erdogan took office in 2014… This needs to stop. A free press is, as Nelson Mandela termed it, the ‘lifeblood’ of democracy – without it, democracy is simply a façade” – Jodie Ginsberg, The Spectator

“Never has it been so hard to find an article in support of the Turkish government’s actions the other day. The takeover of the Zaman newspaper is unjustifiable and the Turkish prime minister’s attempts to explain the assault on Zaman as a ‘legal procedure’ simply amount to lies. This is the end of a free press in Turkey; the country is no longer a functioning democracy since opposition views are entirely oppressed in the public domain. The EU’s response to this has been unbelievablhy weak, because the Turkish government has it over a barrel on the issue of migrants. We cannot allow ourselves to be blackmailed by this dictatorship: introduce Australia’s strict migration policy with regards to the refugee boats and don’t even consider granting Turkey EU membership with this government in place” – Crystal News Opinion

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