Asli Aydintasbas writes: The speed of Turkey’s decline is mind-boggling, even when you live through its the day-to-day machinations.
This week started with the Turkish government announcing plans to reintroduce the death penalty at the urging of the country’s strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in order to garner the support of ultra-nationalists in his bid to expand the powers of his presidency. Later in the week came the arrests of the editor-in-chief and columnists of Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s oldest paper and a symbol of its fast-eroding secularism, on trumped-up charges of terrorism. And finally, Thursday night brought the detentions of Selahattin Demirtas, the charismatic leader of the country’s pro-Kurdish party, and Figen Yuksekdag, the co-leader of the party. Ten other elected Kurdish deputies were also arrested.
As I write these lines, citizens cannot communicate to organize demonstrations — Twitter is down in Turkey, Facebook is unreachable, and social media applications such as WhatsApp remain blocked. The social media crackdown is an entirely unnecessary measure; who would go out and risk arrest when there is an emergency rule and a formal ban on protests? Protests happen in free and semi-free societies — or when people have the feeling that they have a chance to make an impact. There was a time when mass urban protests shook the country and pushed the government to announce a series of reforms. Today’s Turkey is a shell of itself. No such optimism remains [Continue reading…]