Amnesty report reveals sharp deterioration in freedom of speech in Turkey in 2016
AP photoThe state of freedom of expression in Turkey has deteriorated sharply over the past year, particularly since the state of emergency declared after the failed July 2016 coup attempt, Amnesty International’s Annual Report stated on Feb. 22.
Amnesty presented a timeline of events damaging freedom of speech in Turkey including the appointment of trustees to the taken-over Zaman media group, the conviction of daily Cumhuriyet’s former editor-in-chief Can Dündar and its Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül, the shutting down of daily Özgür Gündem and scores of other outlets, and the detention of many academics.
“Freedom of expression deteriorated sharply during the year. After the declaration of a state of emergency, 118 journalists were remanded in pre-trial detention and 184 media outlets were arbitrarily and permanently closed down under executive decrees, leaving opposition media severely restricted,” said the 408-page report on rights abuses in 159 countries.
“People expressing dissent, especially in relation to the Kurdish issue, were subjected to threats of violence and criminal prosecution. Internet censorship increased. At least 375 NGOs, including women’s rights groups, lawyers’ associations and humanitarian organizations, were shut by executive decree in November,” it added.
The report noted that there has been an increase in cases of torture and other ill-treatment in curfew areas, while impunity for abuses committed by the security forces remained.
The report also touched on the heavy refugee burden in Turkey, which hosts up to 3 million Syrian refugees. It noted that the majority of Syrian refugees still have no access to regular education or lawful employment.