President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued his domestic and foreign war on his opposition by closing the newspaper Zaman this week. Police raided Zaman’s Istanbul offices hours after a court ruling allowing for state control of the newspaper. Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protesters gathered in front of the newspaper’s headquarters. Erdogan justified his actions by once again linking his opposition to terrorist groups and organizations. Last year two other newspapers and TV channels were also placed under state administration for similar reasons.
The state control of this paper is another attack on the fundamental rights of the Turkish people. This attack on the freedom of speech comes after a string of unbridled attack on journalists and academics, across Turkey, critical of the Erdogan regime. This year, 12 academics from Kocaeli University (from 1,100 other academics worldwide) that signed declarations denouncing the war on Turkish Kurds were arrested along with countless journalists. Turkey currently ranks at 149th place (out of 180 countries) in the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index.
Erdogan’s attack on press freedom is another step in the continuation of his agenda to build a closed Islamic society in Turkey. These attacks on fundamental human rights and freedom will lay the foundations of, and will culminate to, Erdogan reaching his goal of changing the Turkish constitution in the next election (requiring a 2/3 parliamentary majority) in order to inaugurate himself as the Turkish supreme leader. As the supreme leader he will have the power to make sweeping changes to the Turkish secular laws in the Turkish constitution. The relentless bombing of the Kurds inside and outside Turkish borders, and the penchant for prosecuting journalists and academics, without due process or any judicial fairness, will create the groundworks for Erdogan’s Islamic state of Turkey.
Without a doubt the Erdogan regime is taking lessons from the neighbouring country: the Islamic regime of Iran. This is a state that has quashed every modicum of fundamental human rights and freedoms, especially the rights of Iranian women, and continues its rule by draconian methods of mass torture and executions. All constitutional rights that protect women’s rights and freedoms, even as paper proclamations, will become absent in Erdogan’s hegemonic control of Turkey.
Erdogan continues to suppress the freedom of speech and the voices of his opposition by linking them to terrorist organizations while duplicitously supporting ISIS. Simultaneously Erdogan is filling his prisons with political prisoners while bombing the Kurds that have built an international reputation for leading the war against ISIS. With these actions, Erdogan’s regime has joined the likes of state terrorist such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
At the crux of this matter is also the European Union and the current refugee crisis. Currently Turkey is housing over two million refugees in its borders. The flow of refugees fleeing the wars in the Middle East and North Africa have created an insurmountable political crisis in Europe. The European Union, which is still grappling from the economic and political waves of global capitalism crisis no longer has the political capital it once had to control Turkish domestic policies. In addition, every government and elections in Europe is oscillating on the fulcrum of the refugee crisis. Europe needs Turkey to absorb the waves of refugees and this has given Erdogan the ammunition he needs to assault the fundamental rights and freedom of the Turkish people without a significant consequence. The Turkey that had penchant to join the European Union is no longer prominent and is fading.
Capitalism, a system founded on economic exploitation, and Islamic governments such as those in Iran and Turkey, can only survive through the suppression of voices, media blindness and draconian prosecution of the opposition. On the polar opposite is a transparent society, an open society where the diversity of human voice is protected and the fundamental human rights and freedoms are not negotiable. This is a society where human dignity is not redefined in every election. With his domestic and foreign policy, Erdogan is continuing to close the doors on the Turkish society. He wants to remove every modicum of transparency from society to create a total opaque Islamic state. If successful, he will trap and enslave the Turkish people in a regime that may take decades to topple.
By Chia Barsen
2014 © Chia Barsen. All Rights Reserved.