Turkey continues its plunge into authoritarianism under President Tayyip Erdogan. So as to leave no doubt about his tyrannical aspirations, our close ally Erdogan is seeking to change the definition of a terrorist to include anyone he deems to be “supporters” of opponents or listed groups, including members of parliament, civil liberties activists and of course journalists. In in a televised speech this week he declared “democracy,, freedom, and the rule of law have absolutely no value any longer.”
We have followed the rapid decline of civil liberties under the authoritarian rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the past few years as well as his empowering of Islamic parties in the once secular state. This trend was evident recently with the rounding up of dozens of professors for simply signing a petition denouncing military operations against Kurds in the south-east of the country. Recently, his government has announced that it will seek life sentences for two journalists who reported on the gun smuggling operations of Turkey to Syria.
It is not clear if he is saying democracy is dead due to his opponents or just acknowledging his systemic destructions of any semblance of democracy in Turkey. However, he notably added “Those who stand on our side in the fight against terrorism are our friend. Those on the opposite side, are our enemy.”
His priority appears to be to criminalize political opposition, particularly the opposition HDP, which opposes the war against the Kurds. He insisted “I no longer see as legitimate political actors the members of a party which is operating as a branch of the terrorist organization.” Erdogan wants Parliament to assist him in targeting opposition MPs from the Kurdish-dominated southeast. Of course, this is the same man who swore that, while he was tearing down the secular traditions of the country to introduce Islamic parties and values, he would scrupulously honor civil liberties and free speech.
Once again, the United States continues to support Turkey and assist the Erdogan regime in beefing up its military.