An Attack On Journalists
On July 15, 2016, half of the Turkish military army, as well as many civilians, attempted to overthrow the established government of which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policies are enforced. The President of Turkey, Erdogan, was first elected as Prime Minister of Turkey in 2003. He is currently the most powerful and influential ruler of Turkey. President Erdogan runs a democratic country, however, during his fourth term in office, he has been attempting to return Turkey to an Islamic authoritative power.
Many Turks respected former Prime Minister Erdogan in the beginning as he made Turkey quite prosperous. He tripled the economy, implemented schools, and established well-facilitated hospitals, all within a decade. Quite impressive? But then, in 2014 he began jailing journalists who criticized him, or accused him of corruption.
Today social media platforms, such as Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype, and Instagram, are critically restricted. In July 2001 Turkish people began to come to terms with just how powerful he had become. President Erdogan monitors and controls the internet obsessively in Turkey. Sites like Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook are routinely unavailable in the country and in major cities like Ankara, the capital, and Istanbul.
Coups have tried to protest multiple times with the intention to overthrow his position. In July 2016, Erdogan jailed 120 journalists who oppose him, thus inciting even more protests from the people. It has become extremely hard to be an opinionated journalist in Istanbul today. Unfortunately, they have jailed more journalists than China in 2016 alone. Many people are upset that their voices are not being heard and that the government is not only taking advantage of them, but also feeding them incorrect information. The president overtly publishes news that he oversees while not receding from confrontation.
One most notable example is from Miss Turkey, Merve Buyuksarac. She released many public statements against President Erdogan and has used her Instagram account to voice her opinions. This has led her to many court trials, and even a 14- month suspended sentence for using social media in Turkey. She continues today to voice her opinion, even though it is incredibly risky for her to do so. Can we say girl power?
It is no secret that the Turkish government monitors Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Skype, Whatsapp and other social media platforms to restrain its citizens from wayward posting against the current President.
Even more threatening is publishing something in support for the Kurdish Nationalist Party, which is a group blatantly against the current President. The government has already shut down 15 pro-Kurdish news outlets leaving 10,000 civilian journalists without a job. As well, the editor of Cumhiryet, the only newspaper in Turkey that is still resisting the government’s limits of free speech, has been detained this year sparking small protests throughout the country.
According to the New York Times, over 100,000 members of media, police, journalists, judicial, and professors have been detained because the government believes they are opposing them and inciting radicalism.
So how is the Turkish government justifying this?
President Erdogan and his government are using press laws and intimidation against journalists in Turkey, and against anyone who posts negatively against the government. Even though Turkey is supposed to be democratic, President Erdogan is 330 votes short of completely changing the constitution of Turkey to an Islamic authoritative government.
This would drastically change Turkey’s position in the world if President Erdogan got his way.
At the current time of writing, Turkey is a member of NATO, and works with the EU to help facilitate refugees and cooperate with the US ally. If it became an Islamic government, they would most likely lose their role in NATO and lose valuable global alliances as a consequence. But apart from that, democracy is freedom for the people. Taking away their social media rights deems itself to be a violation in and of it’s self. In todays world, freedom of expression via Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Skype and Twitter should be individually managed without fear. Let’s all hope 2017 is a year of progression.
This article was written by Brittney Pilarcik.