Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Blurring Boundaries between Freedom of Expression and Support for Terrorism in Turkey

The Blurring Boundaries between Freedom of Expression and Support for Terrorism in Turkey

There is a growing international awareness and criticism about the Justice and Development Party for pursuing practices that undermine the democratic credentials of Turkey. Patrick Cockburn of the Independent asks whether the increasing autocratic practices in Turkey threatening the government's credibility and undermining its political and economic performance. Cockburn writes : "Often journalists are held for more than a year without knowing the charges against them, and an editor can be jailed for any article appearing in his paper critical of government policy. In one case a Kurdish editor was sentenced to 166 years in prison, later reduced to 20 years by the High Court, for such a piece. Osman Kovala of Anadolu Kultur, a human rights organisation in Istanbul, says there is "still no clear distinction between expression of an opinion and membership of a terrorist organization." To read the rest of the article, please visit:

The Human Rights Watch also calls the government to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the recent lethal strike by Turkish air force jets that killed 34 Kurdish villagers and bring those who are responsible to justice. HRW also expressed concern over the government's jailing its critics for extended terms "while they stand trial for alleged terrorism offenses on the basis of flimsy evidence" and calls the government to end its clampdown on journalists, Kurdish activists and government critiques. According to Emma Sinclair-Webb of HRW, the Turkish government's credibility as an advocate of democracy in the Middle East is only credible if it advocates human rights at home. Both articles emphasize the blurring boundaries between freedom of expression and support for terrorism in Turkey and the increasing tendency of the government to use the latter as a reason to restrict the former.

In its World Report 2012, HRW reports that "since winning a third term with a strong showing of 50 percent of the vote in the June 12 general election, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) government has taken increasing steps to abridge rights at home." To read more, please visit:

For a more detailed report on Turkey's jailing its journalists, please also visit here.