More than three months after the abortive military coup against Turkish President Erdogan failed miserably, my prediction that "It's going to get nasty in Turkey" has panned out in very unfortunate ways.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken advantage of the failed coup attempt in July to carry out a coup of his own.
In the past three months, more than 110,000 people have been purged and nearly 40,000 have been imprisoned in Turkey, a NATO member and close Western ally. The increasingly authoritarian President Erdogan is implementing a slow-motion coup, restructuring the government and civil society through a mass purge of the political opposition.
People from all sectors of society have been targeted — those working in the government, military, courts, media and academia. Over the weekend, more than 10,000 civil servants were fired en masse. Among the purged were health workers and at least 1,200 academics. New government decrees granted Erdogan the power to appoint university officials, while simultaneously stripping lawyer-client confidentiality rights from those detained.
Opposition figures like Sezgin Tanrikulu, a member of parliament from the left-leaning, secular Republican People’s Party, are alarmed. “What the government and Erdogan are doing right now is a direct coup against the rule of law and democracy,” Tanrikulu warned on a Periscope broadcast.
Independent, critical journalism is on the verge of extinction. Outlets that oppose Erdogan’s right-wing, Islamist and neoliberal Justice and Development Party, known by the acronym AKP, have faced raids and arrests.
Erdogan is rolling up anyone suspected of helping the coup attempt, and that includes pretty much everyone who isn't Erdogan. The press, opposition leaders, public intellectuals, lawyers, university professors, civil servants, all are under attack.
But nobody is suffering more than Turkey's Kurdish minority.
The permanent "state of emergency" play is pretty standard in the MENA dictator book, and Erdogan is having a grand time of it. And please remember this is a full-fledged NATO ally here doing this while the EU and US are decidedly busy with larger issues like Syria, Brexit, the US presidential election and Yemen, and Erdogan knows he can pretty much get away with anything right now.
Elected mayors and local councils have been fired and replaced with unelected administrators in 27 municipalities in the largely Kurdish southeast, according to Human Rights Watch.
At least 30 elected Turkish mayors are being held in pretrial detention, Human Rights Watch reported. Even more are under criminal investigation on suspicion of supposed terrorism offenses.
On Sunday, the government detained the two elected co-mayors of the predominately Kurdish city of Diyarbakir. Human Rights Watch said they were jailed on “trumped up terrorism charges.”
Two days later, authorities appointed an unelected administrator to run the city. Police also separately detained 30 officials from the left-wing opposition Democratic Regions Party in the area.
In the month of October , the Turkish government jailed 98 officials from the leftist Democratic Regions’ Party, an allied organization of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, a leftist, feminist, pro-Kurdish party that has become the third largest faction in parliament.
And he is, and he will continue to do so.