WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT TURKEY
Source: Amnesty International
In 2016, the Turkish government established a ‘state of emergency’. It was meant to protect the people after a bloody coup attempt - but instead, it gave the government the ability to rule the country with dangerous, unchecked power.
People in Turkey are now living in a climate of fear and intimidation, where the government that should be protecting them is violating their rights. Read our report
In Turkey today, it’s dangerous to speak your mind.
As Turkey approaches two years of a state of emergency, human rights defenders in the country are living in a constant climate of fear. They each either have been detained, prosecuted or threatened, or know many others who have been.
They are careful about what they say, write or tweet. They have small bags ready in case they get the dawn knock on their door, the police coming to take them away.
Their organizations also feel the squeeze, some have even been summarily shut down, leaving swathes of people in need of their support also voiceless.
And none of this is accidental. It’s a deliberate attempt to dismantle independent civil society.
This is why we need to talk about Turkey.
We need to talk about how a nationwide crackdown has resulted in mass arrests and dismissals, the hollowing out of the legal system and the silencing of dissenting voices through threats, harassment, prosecutions and imprisonment.
Osman İşçi, human rights defender
THE AIM IS TO MAINTAIN THE CLIMATE OF FEAR … WHEN YOU ARE IN POLICE DETENTION, YOU ARE VERY SCARED FOR YOUR FAMILY. WE ARE ALL SCARED.
A climate of fear and intimidation
Since the July 2016 failed coup attempt, more than 100,000 people have faced criminal investigations and possible prosecution, and more than 50,000 people have been imprisoned pending trial. Turkey is also the biggest jailer of journalists, with more than 120 finding themselves behind bars, simply for doing their job.
Those who continue to speak out and stand up for human rights in Turkey are paying a heavy price.
Being exposed to smear campaigns on social media and in pro-government media is often just the beginning. At any moment they might be arrested and find themselves in prison for months on baseless charges. This climate of fear leads to self-censorship. Activists start hesitating to raise their voices, knowing they could be thrown in jail for what they say.
As human rights lawyer Eren Keskin told Amnesty: “I try to express my views freely but I am also acutely aware of thinking twice before speaking or writing.”
She is currently facing over 140 separate prosecutions for articles published when she was symbolic editor-in-chief of the newspaper