UN rapporteur says reedom of expression in Turkey is grim

November 18, 2016 10:30 pm

David Kaye, the special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, speaks about the situation on freedom of expression in , in Ankara, on November 18, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

A independent expert on human rights has censured the Turkish government for its widespread crackdown on dissent following the failed coup of July 15.
“The conclusions I would say are fairly grim and reflect what I think is a deep sense of restriction on freedom of opinion and expression throughout the country,” David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said on Friday.
Kaye, who was speaking to reporters in Ankara after a weeklong visit, said he appreciated Ankara’s need to take counter-measures against threats to the nation. However, he said Ankara was not free to take arbitrary measures against its opponents.
“That does not mean that the government has a blank check to do whatever it wants,” he said.
Turkey has arrested over 37,000 people and dismissed or suspended more than 100,000 within the judiciary, media, military and civil service in the wake of the failed coup.
Kaye warned Ankara over the long-term impact of the pressure on academics, hundreds of whom have been dismissed for alleged links to coup plotters or Kurdish rebels.
“If it (the purge) continues, people will leave … The more academics leave, the less you have educators in the country for the next generation,” he said.
Among those arrested are International Criminal Court judge Aydin Sefa Akay, some 155 journalists and staff from the Cumhuriyet daily and the co-leaders of the second biggest opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party, also known as the HDP.
Kaye called on Turkish authorities to immediately release all journalists arrested during the purge.
The independent legal expert is tasked by the UN Human Rights Council to report on Turkey’s human rights status. He will present a formal report in spring.

This combo image shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered authorities to eradicate all elements involved in the coup attempt.
Erdogan claims that US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen was behind the coup.
Gulen has denied any role in the coup attempt. He says Erdogan orchestrated the coup as a pretext to purge all his opponents and pave the way for his undisputed leadership.
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