Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Academic freedom, freedom of press, and freedom of speech about to disappear in Turkey

After several investigations by public prosecutors that target academics who signed a petition asking for peace, several takeovers of media outlets, and arrests of three signatories of the petition for peace, more severe legal measures are on their way in Turkey. According to Reuters, a legal expert in AKP, the ruling party of Turkey, stated that the government aims to "broaden the extent" of the anti-terror law.

Earlier this week, right after the latest terrorist attack in Ankara, which claimed the lives of 37 people on Monday, Erdoğan, adopting Bush's speech in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, declared: "They are either on our side, or on the side of the terrorists." Erdoğan was targeting freedom of speech directly: "This is not a matter of freedom of thought, freedom of press, or freedom of organization. This is a matter of ability to more effectively fight the scoundrels who intend to harm the life of our nation." 

The day after this speech, on Tuesday, Esra Mungan, Muzaffer Kaya, and Kıvanç Ersoy, three academics who affirmed their stance behind the Petition for Peace at a press conference on March 10, were arrested (this press conference came after 464 investigations had been launched against the academics who signed the Petition). The same day, Chris Stephenson, a British lecturer in Computer Science at Bilgi University in Istanbul, was detained because of the invitations to a Kurdish new year celebration found in his bag. Stephenson has been deported from Turkey Wednesday evening.