News reports this morning describe large scale police operations across Turkey today. The main target appears to be media associated with the influential Gulenist movement, once an important part of the AKP coalition, but, for the past year, targeted by President Erdogan as a treasonous “parallel state.”
As journalist Yesim Comert tweeted this morning, Turkey has, with the arrests this morning, regained its position as “the country with the largest number of detained journalists in the world.”
It is impossible not to see these arrests as part of a larger campaign to control media and eradicate dissent in Turkey. Earlier this week, the newspaper, Birgun, was targeted for investigation for creating a headline with the Turkish word, “thief” written in Ottoman script (a poke at discussion of making Ottoman language classes mandatory in the schools).
We’ll update information here as details come in. It is not clear how far this crackdown will go, but President’s Erdogan speech earlier this weekend suggests it will be broad: “We have gone into their lairs and we will go into them again. Whoever is beside them and behind them, we will bring down this network and bring it to account.”
Today’s arrests represent another disturbing chapter in Turkey’s rapidly deteriorating human rights environment.
St. Lawrence University