— The Erimtan Angle —

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Last summer’s Coup-that-was-no-Coup in Turkey has given Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (aka the Prez) and his henchmen (aka members and supporters of the Justice and Development Party or AKP) a golden opportunity to fast-track their plan-of-action, slowly yet quickly transforming the one-time nation state of Turkey into an Anatolian Federation of Muslim Peoples . . . a place where the nouns Turk and (Sunni) Muslim are synomimous and where the implementation of Shariah Law is but a stone’s throw away.[1] Journalists and critical thinkers are thus shunned and duly punished: “Media crackdowns are nothing new in Turkey, but the most recent wave of repression has reached a fever pitch following this summer’s failed coup attempt. Since the coup, the Turkish government has arrested more than 100 journalists; thousands more have lost their jobs and/or press credentials”, as written by Ian Bremmer (@ianbremmer) in TIME magazine.[2]

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“According to a story by independent journalism organization Platform 24 (P24) the total number of journalists who are imprisoned in Turkey reached 130 on Oct. 18 after the owner and two employees of Radyo Karacadağ, a Kurdish radio station shut down by government decree on Sept. 30, were placed under arrest . . . The 130 people in prison include those charged and arrested and several others who have been convicted for their journalistic activities. It does not include people who are being held in police custody with no charges, nor does it include those individuals who might have been arrested under the state of emergency without the news of their arrest being published in the media”.[3] And on 25 October 2016, the European Parliament published its JOINT MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION: the European Parliament calls “on the Turkish authorities to release those journalists and media workers being held without compelling evidence of criminal activity, including well-known journalists such as as Nazli Ilicak, Sahin Alpay, Asli Erdogan, Murat Aksoy, Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan; stresses that the journalists should not be detained on the basis of the content of their journalism or alleged affiliations, including in cases where charges are brought against them, and underlines the need to ensure that pre-trial detention remains an exception”.[4]

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And putting the cherry on top of his cake of infamy, the Prez had his henchmen do some more dirty deeds two days before Halloween, as reported by the news agency Reuters: “Turkey said it had dismissed a further 10,000 civil servants and closed 15 more media outlets over suspected links with terrorist organizations and U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for orchestrating a failed coup in July. More than 100,000 people had already been sacked or suspended and 37,000 arrested since the abortive putsch in an unprecedented crackdown President Tayyip Erdogan says is crucial for wiping out the network of Gulen from the state apparatus. Thousands more academics, teachers, health workers, prison guards and forensics experts were among the latest to be removed from their posts through two new executive decrees published on the Official Gazette late on Saturday [, 29 October 2016]. Opposition parties described the move as a coup in itself. The continued crackdown has also raised concerns over the functioning of the state”.[5]

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The news agency continues that the “extent of the crackdown has worried rights groups and many of Turkey’s Western allies, who fear Erdogan is using the emergency rule to eradicate dissent. The government says the actions are justified given the threat to the state posed by the coup attempt, in which more than 240 people died. The executive decrees have ordered the closure of 15 more newspapers, wires and magazines, which report from the largely Kurdish southeast, bringing the total number of media outlets and publishers closed since July to nearly 160. Universities have also been stripped of their ability to elect their own rectors according to the decrees. Erdogan will from now on directly appoint the rectors from the candidates nominated by the High Educational Board (YÖK) . . . The government extended the state of emergency imposed after the coup attempt for three months until mid-January. Erdogan said the authorities needed more time to wipe out the threat posed by Gulen’s network as well as Kurdish militants who have waged a 32-year insurgency. Ankara wants the United States to detain and extradite Gulen so that he can be prosecuted in Turkey on a charge that he masterminded the attempt to overthrow the government. Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies any involvement. Speaking to reporters at a reception marking Republic Day on Saturday [. 29 October 2016], Erdogan said the nation wanted the reinstatement of the death penalty, a debate which has emerged following the coup attempt, and added that delaying it would not be right”.[6]

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[1] C. Erimtan, “The Failed Coup Attempt – or the Dawning of Sharia Law in Turkey?” The Duran (18 July 2016). http://theduran.com/author/can-erimtan/.

[2] Ian Bremmer, “These 5 Facts Explain the (Dire) State of Press Freedom Globally” TIME (13 Oct 2016). http://time.com/4530322/press-freedom-journalism-censorship/.

[3] “Platform 24: Total number of arrested journalists in Turkey rises to 130” Turkish Minute (20 Oct 2016). https://www.turkishminute.com/2016/10/20/platform-24-total-number-arrested-journalists-rises-130/.

[4] “JOINT MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION” European Parliament (25 Oct 2016).

[5] Humeyra Pamuk, “Turkey sacks 10,000 more civil servants, shuts media in latest crackdown” Reuters (30 Oct 2016). http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-dismissals-idUSKBN12U04L?il=0.

[6] Humeyra Pamuk, “Turkey sacks 10,000 more civil servants, shuts media in latest crackdown”.

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